It’s no secret that I truly enjoy my career and in addition to crime fighting, I also give the occasional presentation about forensics. This past Tuesday I spoke to a group of twenty adults who were in the last few weeks of Citizen Academy where local individuals go through a “police academy-like” training in order to get a better working knowledge of our county’s police department. That presentation went smoothly and I really enjoyed myself.
I was also asked to speak to an 8th grade forensics class today. I like educating others about forensics and what my job entails, so I honestly looked forward to this presentation. I expected a room full of bright young students, eager to learn and be full of insightful questions.
As I walked through the halls on the way to the class I heard the buzz of students as I passed the cafeteria. Some boy was teasing a girl nearby and I just shook my head… middle school. Maybe someday I’ll be a teacher. Wouldn’t that be cool? At least I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain in the ass night shift, like I do now. I continued walking down the brightly decorated halls trying to picture what it would be like to teach young minds and have a real influence on their lives.
I was all set up and my PowerPoint was ready to go. Side note: How cool are those projectors that allow you to touch the screen with a stylus pen in order to move to the next slide? It’s called a Smart Board or something like that. Now I’m wondering if I was completely antiquated to have shown a PowerPoint. Anyway, in addition to my presentation I brought a few things to pass around as examples. Nothing too crazy since most of our more interesting equipment is large and bulky. Everything started off well, but within the first few minutes I noticed a couple students had their heads down on their desk. Quite a few others seemed glassy eyed. Suffice to say this group was not impressed.
This was a significantly different response than my previous presentation a mere 4 days ago. I started to feel warm under my collar and could instantly tell I was talking with my hands, a lot. It was like I was flailing them around and couldn’t stop. A sign-language interpreter was standing next to me in order to translate my presentation for a deaf student in the class. I hadn’t really noticed her before but then a thought crossed my mind. Does she sign every time I say “Umm”? All of a sudden I was very aware of how I described things and I struggled to find the correct word for what felt like minutes. The interpreter was throwing me off my game a bit. The kids, while quiet and respectful, seemed genuinely disinterested.
Could it be that they were tired since the lecture was right after lunch? I know I used to have heavy eyelids after I ate Paté Chinois (ahem, Shepard’s Pie for you non-Acadians) for lunch in middle school. Then I realized that I had no clue when they had lunch and I was quite confident they don’t serve Paté Chinois in Maryland. Hmm, maybe my presentation needs more photos… or better yet…. clip-art! Oooh! Or maybe those cool slide transitions where the title zig-zags in from the top of the slide. That would surely impress 8th graders, right?
After my presentation, I asked the class if there were any questions and I think I might have got one question… and it was from the teacher. Awesome. I almost called on a kid who was scratching his forehead, I was so eager. Nothing. The teacher thanked me for speaking to the class and I think four kids clapped… sort of. It was awkward. Most of them were wiping drool off the sides of their mouths. I think they probably would’ve preferred a test.
The teacher told me she enjoyed my presentation and she felt validated because she had already taught them everything that I talked about! No wonder they were bored! The teacher had even used some of the same photos that were in my presentation. These 8th graders had an entire semester of Forensics, so my very basic PowerPoint just didn’t do the trick. My teacher dreams are shattered and I don’t think I inspired any kids to think about a career in law enforcement. Oh well!
Lesson learned: Next time just introduce yourself and show an episode of CSI.