Gregory Baldridge: Teacher Outlet for Humor

Aug 30, 2016 by

Today’s Teech: Picture Day

An Interview with Gregory Baldridge: Teacher Outlet for Humor

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Greg, first of all, how long have you been teaching, what do you teach, and what first got you into teaching and education?

This year marks my ninth year teaching, and I am currently teaching first grade at a dual-language school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve always worked well with kids, but I came to teaching in a roundabout way.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico with degrees in biological anthropology and criminology, I found myself playing music at night and working retail during the day. I was grinding in a direction that I didn’t want to go. Because I had the right supports, though, I was directed towards an alternative licensure program and never looked back.

2) Apparently you have a web site or blog which contains some of your cartoons. When did you start drawing cartoons, and how many are there?

I’ve always doodled in the margins of my notebooks.  I was always inclined to read comics, cartoons, and children’s stories.  The visual aspect of storytelling has always been as important to me as the words.  I began drawing Teech almost four years ago while I was teaching middle school in New Orleans.  From my initial, unplanned doodles I have improved and watched my visual storytelling take me in directions I had never expected.

3) What is the exact title of your website- so that our readers can enjoy your humor?

My comic strip is called Teech, and it can be found at Teechcartoon. tumblr.com

4) Some teachers find teaching stressful – you apparently look for the positives and the humorn- how did this attitude come about?

There is no question that teaching is stressful. I truly believe, however, that I owe my students that best that I can give to them. The day that I stop having fun as a teacher will be the last day that I teach. I make sure to enjoy the humor, stories, and challenges that this profession provides.

5) Can anyone submit a cartoon to you or a story for your consideration for posting?

Absolutely! Anyone can submit a story or an anecdote.  Although, I can’t promise I can draw them all. Some stories just don’t seem to fit the visual narrative well, but I’m always happy to try.  As of right now about 20 Teech comics have come from current teachers and former teachers from all over the US.

6) Exactly how many cartoons do you have, and have you modeled your work after anyone ( for example, Scott Adams and Dilbert?)

As of today, I am just shy of 500 cartoons with about 250 of them posted on my blog.  I still read a lot of Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbs), Gary Larson (The Far Side), Jim Davis (Garfield), and Charles Shultz (Peanuts).  Their visual storytelling is incredible, but I try to capture the wonder and joy of childhood as well as Maurice Sendak did in Where the Wild Things Are.

7) What’s on the horizon? Jokes, stories, or more cartoons?

When the kids are done saying silly things then I suppose I’m out of cartoon ideas, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.  Eventually Teech will be bound into a book with lots of extras, including some of the stories behind the cartoons.

8) I think it was Art Linkletter who used to say “Kids say the darndest things”…..What about pupils? Can you give us an example of one of your students saying something atrocious?

Kids will sometimes repeat the most shocking things that they hear at home.  In a science lesson, we were discussing hibernation and one little girl raised her hand.  She then informed the entire class that she knew about hibernation because her older sister would hibernate so she wouldn’t have to take care of her kids.

Sometimes you can’t help but laugh out loud and other times you are a little more taken aback.  Another day a particularly cute first grader came up and asked if she could ask a question.  I told her she could and she promptly asked when I was going to die.

9) Often people say “Humor is the best medicine” How does that come out in your work?

For me humor is the best medicine.  With Teech, I can look back and laugh about stories, remember sweet moments, and reflect on the difficult ones.  Creating comics is also a wonderful quiet time, which is so very different from the time spent with the students.  When you’re in the classroom you have hundreds of things to consider at any given moment; when I pull the pen across paper, the ink is my only concern.

10) What have I neglected to ask?

As much as I want the humor to come across in Teech, I also want to capture the difficulties that these tiny people go through.  Children have very little control in regards to the decisions made about education and yet are the recipients of everything that happens.  Many of the stories I tell can be heart breaking, but these are the issues that our students have to deal with on a daily basis.

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