When I think of being a teacher, I think back to when I was in high school. I can remember my English teacher with her black stilettos smoking in the faculty lounge. The door was always open and smoke was always billowing out. How weird I thought it was back then….until I became a teacher.
No, we don’t smoke in our teacher’s lounge. And I definitely do not wear stilettos…a cute pair of boots, yes, but uncomfortable shoes that I wedge my feet in? Hell, no.
But the mystery is still there. Students think of us in one way and then when they aren’t around, we turn back into our regular selves. I smile sometimes thinking of the jokes we make during our planning period, the odd things we talk about during lunch or even at the bus ramp. Do not get me wrong..we spend plenty of time working, but sometimes you just have to joke about life or you will not get through the day or the week or the school year as a sane person. Laugh it off and you will survive.
This week, my work BFF (yes, I call him that and yes, sadly, I am almost 40 and I say that..do not judge me) and I were joking about how to start off the school year in a way that students will not act up later on. There are some students that just take the “talking back” or the “tough guy” act too far so we were joking that the only way to stop those behaviors is to totally confuse the students. For example, have a life size teddy bear in the room and during the first week of school, in the middle of instruction, turn to the bear and yell “I TOLD YOU NOT TO TALK TO ME WHILE I AM TEACHING! I TOLD YOU NOT TO TALK!” Then smile and look around, continuing with instruction. Those students would never talk back to a crazy teacher..never. Now, of course, we would never do that, but the thought of doing it made me laugh so much that my eyes were watering and my laugh sounded like it echoed across the room.
Before I was a teacher, I majored in Criminal Justice. My internship was with a local probation office. Now they also are the kind of professionals that can laugh off their job at an extreme level. I think I will spare you those stories because you might not find the humor in them if you have not been in or around the profession. Sometimes my thoughts or sarcasm can be taken the opposite. The trick is to not take me too seriously. Anyways, they taught me that you can find humor in almost any situation…even when the person on probation for a sex crime stares at you way too much, never breaking eye contact during the entire visit or when you accidentally wear the same type of clothes to a prison tour that the inmates are wearing (yep those really happened and yep they were completely awkward).
I love being a teacher though. It is the only job that has been able to “tame” me. I used to quit jobs every year or two, change residences every year or two..I just have such a hard time with boredom so I would just up and quit or move as soon as the thought struck me. However, with teaching, nothing is the same (except for the stress). Every year is different. Every day is different. Every student is different. But like any job, you cannot survive without letting yourself be true behind those closed doors; you cannot survive without laughing off those crazy moments that we all have.