Saturday, April 5, 2014

Things I Love about Teaching

With the arrival of spring, making it to the end of the school year now feels more like an 800 meter run and less like a treacherous marathon.  I feel hopeful about it and am finally starting to distinguish the things about teaching that I really love.

For instance, going an entire work day without yawning. At previous office jobs, I would fight yawns and lethargy from being a stationary blob most hours of the day. Caffeine became a clutch to focus and/or trick my brain into thinking that completing all the “To Do” list tasks was a fun game. (Pro tip: it’s not.)

Now I find myself alert at 5 AM—on really happening mornings—doing sporty spice gym stuff and taking on the day with zero amounts of caffeine. It’s pretty remarkable how the intensity of the work day forces you to be more productive if you want to find time for yourself.  With the demands of long school days, you are ON majority of those 8 ½ hours and really have no choice not to be. I don’t know how one could stand in a room full of lively children and not feel a surge of natural energy when trying to captivate the crowd and teach them all the things. It’s demanding, but I like it. If you’re going to spend that many hours doing something, it might as well be something engaging and active.

And by active, I mean someone get this girl a Fit Bit because the amount of steps I take walking around “circulating” my classroom is off the charts. I also like that I have such a large classroom to romp around in. After coming from a cubicle, having an entire room to create as your own space is exciting.

Jumping around doing weird claps in this large room is also really exciting. That’s another great thing about this job, you can do so many funny things and the children either get into it or they get embarrassed—both of which are pretty awesome. I.E. the time I had my entire class of low 7th grade readers singing in opera voices about the “GREEN BOOK HOLDERS!” that we use in the library. Or yesterday when I started doing a clapping countdown and I got a horrified look from a 6th grader who said, ”MS OH MY GOD PLEASE STOP DOING THAT YOU LOOK SO DUMB!” Naturally I continued and he put his hands over his eyes—too mortified to watch any longer. Amazing, I was dying [laughing].

Just being around so many mini people and personalities all day can be awesome in itself. Every class period is a new challenge and the uncertainty of what the children are going to do each day is terrifying at first. But once you accept that these are in fact children and realize child psychology methods work on them, it becomes a great test of creativity. What can you do or say today to get the preteens on your team?

Many days cracking the Da Vinci code for the roughest ones is a challenge. But the days when your tactics align with the kid brain—now those are such beautiful, peaceful moments. It makes you feel like a magician and the classroom becomes your oyster.

As a teacher, you really can do what you want in your oyster. Well, sort of. You have content that needs to be taught, but the way in which you deliver that content is completely up to you. There is so much room for creativity in everything from classroom procedures to jobs (aka giving kids’ roles to run the class like a business) to presentation and activity planning. I would argue that the classroom is absolutely a place for the creative mind to flourish.

Which is ironic for me, as I opted to study advertising over education in college because I wanted to do something creative in life.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be,”—John Lennon.


*A note on perspective: The writing of this post happened on a half-day Friday when everything about 30 minute class periods and leaving at 1:30 pm for the weekend felt blissful and beautiful.

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