It all kicked off in 2013 when I first got my feet wet teaching at Trbovlje Technical and Vocational High School – I signed on the dotted line as a teacher of the nuts and bolts of computer science. When September 1st rolled around, I took the bull by the horns, teaching a whopping 101 boys and one girl.
Back in my salad days, I’d often be on tenterhooks about the nickname the students would christen me with. Would it be on the up and up? What would it be tied to? Would I ever catch wind of the undercover alias the students had up their sleeves for me? I remember all the handles we had for our professors and teachers. Most were already the stuff of legends, handed down from the old guard.
What kind of handle would they hang on me?
I remember the day my brother blew into town and said, “Uroš, do you have a clue what the students are calling you behind your back?” My gut reaction was – the cat’s out of the bag. “They’ve pegged you as Uki,” he spilled the beans. The nickname struck a chord, chiefly because it was my cloak and dagger nickname from my high school heydays. Just to set the record straight – I was never a partisan, notwithstanding the nickname – I only lived in Yugoslavia for a short stint of four and a half years. 🙂
During the 2014/2015 school year, I decided to rock the boat in my teaching by injecting project-based collaborative work into my lessons. Teams were cobbled together, leaders stepped up to the plate, and each crew had to pick a moniker. One group went by “UKI’s Angels.” Up until that juncture, I had brushed under the carpet the truth about the informal name the students used when I wasn’t within earshot. This turn of events was a wake-up call. The group was the cream of the crop – so I didn’t view the group name as a shot across the bow, but rather a feather in my cap. The project itself was a breath of fresh air and, judging by their final run of the score, the group was head and shoulders above the rest – without me pulling the strings. 🙂 This certainly is a trip down memory lane, recalling Mateja, Amon, Aleš, Andraž, and Miha.
Meet Dr. UKI
The previous school year (2015/2016) saw me wrapping up my first tour of duty as a class teacher. The students tipped their hats to me in a big way at the end of the school year – I was gifted a personalized chocolate bar and a lab coat emblazoned with Dr. UKI, adorned with the John Hancocks of all the students. How out of the box and considerate! The lab coat has a place of honor in my display. I also keep a snapshot of it in the office as a rainy day reminder of my maiden voyage as a class teacher and the intriguing nickname, which will now be the headliner of a category on my site. This category will be a melting pot for a whole host of topics that pique my interest or curiosity. Seeing as the students were no slouches in coming up with the nickname, I need to step up to the plate with my articles. And so, I earned my stripes as Dr. UKI.