The first question we usually get is, "What is a game cafe?" Here is my answer: It's a place to eat and/or play board games, participate in our escape room, use our video game library, live an alternative life in Dungeons & Dragons, play Magic the Gathering, or take part in one of our tournaments. But mostly is a place to gather and become a community.
The second question is, "Are you going to quit teaching?" Here is my answer: As of now, no.
The third question is, "Are you mad?!?!?!" Here is my answer: Yes!
When the cafe was in it's planning stages, I would daydream about not teaching anymore. It was all too easy to focus on all the negatives associated with teaching and we all know there are a lot of negatives. I figured that once the cafe opened I would become even more pessimistic about teaching. We've been open a little over two weeks now and this strange thing happened....I'm happy. I'm happy everywhere. I'm happy at the cafe, I'm happy at home, and I happy at school.
All the things I ever wanted as a teacher are starting to happen at the cafe.
- My students visit and I feel that I've earned a great deal of respect for this undertaking. I'm getting to know the students better and have time to have real conversations with them without being rushed by a bell or a curriculum that needs to be covered.
- My creative side was being suffocated at school. I felt pressure from multiple sources to teach to the state test, and that my games and activities were nonsense and a waste of the student's time. But at the cafe I have the freedom to create the escape room, which board and card games to include in my library, to design and test my own games, and to work with the other owners on whatever we want.
- We are all aware that SOME students see us as the enemy because we are the teacher. I knew that, but I wasn't as aware of it until the cafe opened. A few students came in that I have in class and really don't have a relationship with, because they don't open up to me (am I the enemy to them?). Since visiting the cafe and seeing me as a person rather than their teacher, I have a new relationship with them and I physically felt the 'enemy' title lift off me when I saw them at school.
- We tell our students all the time to follow their dreams, chase after their passions, and there I sat not following my own advice. Now I can speak from experience when I give this advice. Hopefully I cut a new path for another person to follow.
I don't have any plans to leave the teaching profession anytime soon. I'll see where the wind blows me, for now I'm happy where I am.
Here's what I love about the cafe. I'm doing what I love, I'm surrounded by people who want to be there, we're building a community in our small town, I get to be as creative as I want, my ideas are heard, the customers are awesome, the food is delicious (I eat there almost every day, even on my days off), I'm working with my family, I'm getting to know my step-daughter better, my teaching skills are still being used to match customers with games and teach them, and I accomplished something amazing (okay crazy).
Check us out:
Facebook: Jokers Game Cafe