Since teachers, in my neck of the woods, must report back to school tomorrow, I thought I would write a post about the, often misunderstood, life of a teacher. As I typed “must report back”, I had a pretty hearty chuckle. Every teacher I know has been to school off and on all summer. There is no such thing as a true break for teachers. So, while we must report back, we aren’t really “coming back”, we are just arriving at a certain time, sans ratty sweats and stained work shirts, to join the rest of the staff for getting to know you games and (hopefully) donuts. I can only be so lucky.
During lunch today, my friend, Alyssa and I were talking about our respective blogs. I was expressing my worry that I would fall behind on my posts once lesson plans and assessments become more of a pressing matter. I was also lamenting that I would have to arrive to school early if I wanted good pickings, in regards to the laminator and copiers. She found it quite amusing that part of the stress involved with being a teacher revolves around getting to the copier before someone else. Oh, honey, let me tell you.
She suggested I write a little ditty about the wild world of teaching for her, and others who really have no clue what it is really like.
Instead of writing some serious diatribe about what I do, I thought I would use humor to make it clear to any lay person what teaching is really like. I get too wound up and sweaty when I get riled up on the topic of misconceptions in teaching, so humor it is. I mean, if you don’t laugh, you will cry, and drink an entire bottle of wine. And no one wants that (well, maybe I want the wine).
Any night, before any day, whereby you will be teaching, laying in bed:
Did I add that one thing to my “to-do this week” list? I don’t think I did. Shit. Get phone and email reminder. Quick add a reminder to “alerts” in the calendar, just in case computer at work doesn’t want to work (this happens at least once a week). While emailing reminder, remember that you were going to try to find a video on ecosystems. After an hour of scouring YouTube, TeacherTube, Google, and Pinterest, you think you have found one that works. It is now 11:05 PM. You wanted to be asleep by 9 PM. Why even try to sleep anymore?
Sometime in the middle of the night:
Wake up in a cold sweat, realizing that what you forgot was to call one of your student’s parents. I am going to email them now. No. What if the “ping” wakes them up? If I wait to call them tomorrow, I will forget again. I guess I will add to my 20 reminders for tomorrow. Again, why do I even try to sleep?
Are you effing kidding me? It was JUST 3 AM. I am going to hit snooze. I don’t need to look decent for a pack of 8 year-olds. They won’t notice my baggy eyes and greasy hair (FYI: They WILL notice these things, and quiet verbally).
Driving to school, after spilling coffee twice, and forgetting school keys:
My eye is ALREADY twitching. Coffee. More effing coffee. Drives straight to Starbucks.
In the drive-thru at Starbucks:
Would it be in poor taste to yell out my window that if Joe Blow doesn’t hurry up and decide, I will miss out on my chance for the laminator? Yes. That was in poor taste.
Pulling into parking lot:
Now, which spot has afternoon shade, again? I really don’t want to drive home with my elbows again.
Getting from car, to classroom, with a carload of crap and a hot coffee:
If I put my lunch, the Clorox wipes, my Nalgene bottle, and the 3-hole punch in my purse, I can put my teacher bag in my new turquoise Tupperware bin, I didn’t need, and I can carry my coffee in my teeth. More than one trip is for sissies, and teachers ain’t got time for that. When am I ever going to invest in one of those rolly-cart things??
Walking, trudging along rather, to classroom:
OK, if I can make it to the workroom to turn the laminator on, that will save me a wasted trip. I will also try to make it to the teacher’s lounge, to check my box. Abort mission! Abort mission! I cannot carry a Starbucks with my teeth for that long!!! Cannot lose coffee. Cannot.
Upon entering classroom:
Fabulous! The AC is off again, and no one vacuumed! Why do bad things happen to good people??
Formulating a game plan:
Do I have everything that needs to be copied? Check! Everything that needs to be laminated? Check! Guided reading books to be returned to the library? Check! Field trip money to add to class account? Check! So and so’s colored Sharpies to be returned? Check! Library-lounge-office-so and so’s room-work room, in that order. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Upon seeing someone on the laminator, the laminator YOU turned on:
Are you effing kidding me?? Really? “Good morning! I am fabulous! How are you??”
While copying what you thought was everything:
Are you effing kidding me? I forgot to grab the weekly vocabulary sheet!!! Grabs random piece of paper laying on the floor and quickly writes out the vocabulary homework page, because that is quicker than going back to classroom to search for it and coming back.
Exactly 10 minutes before first bell:
OK, I have the morning message on. I have Fred’s behavior chart ready. All copies for the day are ready and waiting. I have all pages up: Flocabulary, YouTube, etc. I have their guided reading books sorted and ready. I have their tests graded, and handed back. I looked up if the Vikings really had horns on their hats. No. I have the CCD word picture card ready. THE CCD CHART. I forgot that.
Precisely 2 minutes before the bell:
OF COURSE I spelled “definition” wrong. OF FREAKING COURSE. I am sweating and my hair is just a ball of frizz. Do I have time to go to the bathroom? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Sometime during the morning, before lunch:
Why do kid farts always smell the same? I think that smell will forever be branded into my nostrils. While being bombarded with relentless farts, requests to use the restroom are ongoing and severe. Lost pencils, missing whiteboards, and bickering are a daily strife. Teaching, engaging, monitoring, along with thousands of decisions, second-guessing and worrying occurs all morning with no sign of break.
Lunch recess bell rings, sweet release:
Needing to use the restroom, but Johnny needs help. Alert goes off to call Susie’s parent. Wash hands, heat up lunch, all with child in tow who is explaining why they did not feel the need to work at all, all morning.
I have helped everyone. I have done everything. Now, it is my time. I look forward to this 10 minutes every day. Pure heaven.
Sometime during the afternoon:
What is that ungodly smell? “OK, who has their shoes off?” Embarrassingly, it is you. You are what smells.
Guided Reading time:
While overseeing and monitoring students reading, you must also see all points of the room. The kid just chilling behind the bookshelf, picking his nose. LouLou who does a really good job looking like she is busy, but you know better. Timmy who has gone to the bathroom exactly 23 times. ALL behaviors corrected with one, all powerful look. The teacher look. With one finger pointed to a student’s starting point, an ear pointed at a reader, and eyes on the rest, there is order and peace.
Pack Up time:
What happened to my sweet, darling, well-behaved students? Oh, I know. They already checked out. 2 more minutes. We can do this! We can do this! We must do this, or we wet our pants! I don’t think I have peed all day…
Hours leading up to bedtime:
To-do lists, parent phone calls, correcting, planning, copying, stressing about assessments, questioning career path, pride at student improvement, second-guessing all choices, feeling content that you are making a difference, even if it means gray hairs, an ulcer, and little sleep.
This is just a humorous account of what might be going through my mind on any given day. I have not even gotten into the heart of what we do, what teachers do, every single day to make the lives of their students brighter, and more promising. Yes, teaching involves enduring really smelly farts, annoyances involving disappearing pencils, and 8 year-old drama, but it also involves witnessing the “ah hahs” and being a part of a classroom family that consists of laughs, triumphs, and love.
I humorously complain, but there really is nothing more in the world I would rather do than teach our future. Teachers are not respected enough among the general public, but that’s OK, Imma keep doing what I do best. Haters gonna hate.