I’m terribly sorry to have grossed you out with the whole lice discussion, but my honesty and bluntness is both my blessing and my curse. I made sure that I started with the shocking secrets of life behind the scenes so that I could get it out of the way so we could delve into the other, more pleasant parts of the Head of The Class series, which segues us nicely into today’s post.
Now some of you who are teachers, or who have ever loved a teacher, know that the job itself has become more and more demanding, and sometimes unreasonable in terms of what is expected by the government. You have complained about how it has changed over the many years, and for the most part, a good chunk of the day is spent making sure everything is just right and in place for whatever initiative is being launched. That’s why it’s important to remember the good things that are part of teaching that the rest of the world either doesn’t realize or doesn’t know about. It’s the good things that got me through the toughest days…
The very first thing on my list should be obvious: THE KIDS
No one gets into teaching who doesn’t like kids. Even if there are teachers whose motives were questioned, there is something deep down that got them into education, and it’s no secret that there are kids on the job. It’s kind of the biggest part. I have been a particularly blessed teacher in that I can only recall one year where my kids were so challenging that I almost just walked out on the profession all together. And it’s a good thing I didn’t, because the following year was a year that kept me surging forward for another five years. They were the group I called “my heart and soul” because I felt like they gave me reason to move on and continue in the field that I loved. They were the reason I came to work every morning, and stayed late planning every day. They made me laugh, they made me cry tears of joy when they had learning breakthroughs, and they were my little buddies, my best friends that I got to hang out with all day long! I still am close with one kid from that class, and she is determined to be in my wedding someday! I may just let her… But that’s just it, I was never that teacher that had the kids and then let them get away. I keep them. I keep them close because I care so much, again which is both my blessing and was ultimately my curse as it was pointed out to me recently, and keep in contact with many students and families from years past. I had so many groups that were like that “heart and soul” group, and I had so many kids that I woke up early to see, and stayed late to help, and I loved every second getting to know those that made a difference in my life.
I have to follow that one up with my next item: HUGS
I don’t know too many places of employment where people hug as much as kids do. It was a benefit that they don’t offer you when you sign the contract, but it’s probably the benefit that is most healing. Kids love to hug, especially when you aren’t looking or expecting it! Some just run up to you and throw their arms around you and are so excited to see you. It’s the best way to start a day, and sometimes you know that the kid who is hugging you probably never gets it at home, and needs your parental attention in that way. I know I’ve had to take myself out of the role of being a teacher, and be more of a parent, and sometimes it’s comforting for the student to know that they have you in that way. It’s the only way they calm down, and sometimes it’s the only act of affection and consideration they know. It’s hard to know that I’m going to be doing some job where people don’t hug like that. I may have to start a hugging campaign or something, but then I’ll be that weird hippy girl who likes to hug… or become a hero hugger! Either way, I’m definitely going to miss this.
Easily following that is: LAUGHTER
I don’t know any job where I’ve laughed as much, or as often, or as loudly as I did while working as a teacher. Every year, without fail, there were fits of laughter either with particular students or as a whole group, and it made the day go by quickly. I sometimes laughed so hard I cried, and often relayed stories of the silly things my kids did or said to friends and family. At one point, I even started keeping a list, which will have its own blog post in this series. When I had the younger kids, they were funny without even knowing they were being funny, and it’s that inhibition to say or do things that are zany and ridiculous that make you both shake your head and love being a part of it all at once. I couldn’t get through some days without laughter, and in the best case scenarios, I hopped into the zany activities and joined in the fun. If you can’t beat them, join them. And make sure you laugh a lot when you do.
In my classroom, you must be good at: SINGING AND DANCING
It’s a prerequisite that you either love or engage in singing and dancing to enter my class. Some kids were a little nervous at first to let their hair down, but after about a month with me, most loosened up and joined the fun. I was asked by one particular student two years ago if I had a song for everything, and as it turns out, I do. While in the middle of conversation, something they said would trigger a line from a song and I’d just bust out with it while they were still talking. Some kids would entertain the song and sing along, while others sat there wondering when we’d finish the lesson. My favorite story is when I had the sixth graders, and something prompted me to sing, “You’re as cold as ice…” and then one of my kiddos, without hesitation, finished the line: “You’re willing to sacrifice, I know!” I think that day really brought he and I closer, as we just naturally understood the other one. And what a cool kid for knowing a 70s song without missing a beat! Besides our daily (ahem, hourly) sing-alongs, sometimes we’d have mini dance parties to get the kids moving and shaking so they’d break up the monotony of the day. This year, a few classes loved the famous Taylor (Tay Tay) Swift song, Shake it off and would blast it over the SmartBoard speakers and shake! There was never a dull moment! I’m only hoping my next place of employment sees the importance of music and dance to make the day fun!
Finally, and I know this is a biggie: CAMARADERIE
I know there are many work places that have great teams and work together, but I have to say that there are many friends and work family members that I’m going to miss more than they know. You work along side someone for years and they get to know you pretty damn’ well, see your dark, your light, and all of the shades of you in between, and some just accept you for all that you are. So I’m going to give some shout outs here to some very deserving friends/work family, because it was you who made my ten years everything that it was.
P.D. – We started this thing called teaching together, and I wished we could have finished it together. I’m so glad you found your place on the teams where I was. I don’t think I would have made it without you. Your family has become my family. And any time something is “URGENT”, I will do a little dance in the street for you!
B.H. – 5 years in the hole together, deep morning discussions, doors open while we taught, tears, hugs, life transitions – there is no one I’d rather be next door to for all that happened when it did than you! I know we didn’t make it as a team till we turned 80 like we joked, but as friends, I hope we do!
S.S. – Mom #2, you still have my back, even after all of these years. Who else could read my mind like you did? No one. We just got it. Love, Daughter #2.
K.K. – How on earth did you put up with me?! Seriously? All I can say is, Thank you. You have a heart of gold, and are a friend, no matter where in the world we are. We always promised that to each other. And I hope we can visit in Glosta when I’m back east!
H.U. – I just love you. That’s it really. I can’t even find the words, because right now, it’s just all love.
WCR – Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t always believe in myself. I wish you could really know just how much your support meant, as it was the first time in a LONG time that I had that kind of reassurance. And it set me on this path and I am grateful for all that you’ve done. I’ve been changed for good…
Legend – You know who you are. Maybe it wasn’t all roses, but we really do always have each other’s backs, and I learned so much. I also don’t know who I’m going to gossip with now, so please make sure you update me, because I’ll want to know what’s going on… tick tock double lock.
R.M. – No one else is going to call me “Baby” when something’s wrong! I might need that, and thank you, for all of your support in the class and out of the class.
K.H. – My sister. My friend. My travel buddy. I may not be across the hall, or just upstairs, but I’m always with you whenever you need me. I don’t know that I’ll have another you, so we really do need to make a plan for where we are going on vacation!
E.H. – Just get a map and go. Don’t be afraid of it, just do it. Make sure you search for hidden treasure along the way, and make sure you include me in some of those adventures! Schmeckleberry and I will be waiting when you are ready to make the leap.