Sunday, May 17, 2015

You Know You're an Elementary School Teacher When...

It started with my sister.  Five years younger than me, she also chose a life in arts education, though hers has looked a bit different than mine.  While I've always been devoted to working with elementary school students, she's taken her K-12 music certification quite literally and has taught all 13 grades in some capacity or another (and even taught on the college level at one point).  Until this year she'd worked with middle school and high school band students, but this year she entered the world of elementary school.  She regularly comments on just how different she finds this world to be.

Yesterday was no different.  I logged into facebook to find she'd posted the following comment:

You know you're an elementary teacher when you suddenly realize after a public performance that you've been wearing a plastic purple necklace with a music note made by a second grader. That's classy.

I laughed, then started thinking:

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you get more hugs in one day than most people get in a month.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when your dance class is regularly interrupted by an adult who asks, "do you have a pair of pants in the dance closet that would fit _____?  He/she had an accident."

You know you're an elementary school teacher when another adult tells you a piece of gossip and you automatically reply with, "are you telling me this to be helpful or hurtful?"

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you've perfected the art of looking at a child and assessing whether they really need to go to the bathroom or they just want to leave class.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when at least once a week a student accidentally calls you "Mom".  You know it's always a compliment.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you realize you just bellowed to a student "it's time to come out of the closet" and no one in class laughed, they just agreed that playing in the closet wasn't helping rehearse the dance.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when a child has handed you a dandelion bouquet they picked for you during recess.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when a student asks you about "that guy MCHammer", pronouncing it like he's an item on the McDonald's menu.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you have to have a discussion before showing any dance video in which a man isn't wearing a shirt ("Do boys wear shirts at the beach?  Sometimes men don't wear shirts when they dance.  It's no big deal"), knowing they'll still burst into giggles as soon as they see him ("He isn't wearing a  SHIRT").

You know you're an elementary school teacher when a simple trip to the grocery store is really an experiment in self-control as you struggle not to step in and help with every child's temper tantrum. 

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you've got a bladder of steel and use the restroom on a set schedule, even on your days off.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when your students come to you with every concern, from "I wanted to sit beside Mary but Joe sat beside Mary and now I can't" to "tomorrow I'm going to the doctor for a shot and I'm scared" and "I'm sad because my mother was yelling all the time at my sister this morning".  Whereas others would be annoyed, you're honored that they trust you with their troubles.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you know what it means when your 4th and 5th grade girls suddenly start carrying purses and know better than to ask about it.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when Field Day is still THE.MOST.IMPORTANT.DAY.EVER in the eyes of your students.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you regularly explain to your students and their parents that no, you haven't given birth to any children but you do have 500 children - all of the children at this school (or thousands, if you count all of the children you've taught).  

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you regularly have to explain to your students that there is no spanking or kissing at school.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when your immediate response to whining is "use your BIG voice."

You know you're an elementary school teacher when every time there's a class change you have to remind children not to run in the hallway.  By the time they reach high school they're moving so slowly that you have to remind them that they really do need to get to their next class before the bell rings.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you can identify in your class exactly who is best friends with who and know that it will change tomorrow.  Likewise, you cringe when you hear the words "you're not my friend anymore."

You know you're an elementary school teacher when there's a list of names you'd never be able to name your child (it's been 10 years, but I still wouldn't even consider the name Austin).

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you've had a Kindergarten Cop style fire drill experience (mine was the first fire drill after 9/11 and kindergartners went EVERYWHERE).

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you daily have to break up an argument about who should stand where in line. It typically starts with you asking, "Who is the line leader?" and "Do we have a door holder?" while always forgetting that there might be an "Energy Saver."  

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you've had another adult explain you that they could teacher your class because they "were in 1st grade once." Likewise, you know you're an elementary school dance teacher when you've had a homeroom teacher tell you that they can teach your class because "I used to dance at a studio - I mean, you're just teaching ballet, tap and jazz, right?" Wrong.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when it doesn't matter what subject you teach, you're still required by the state to regularly participate in staff development addressing reading instruction.

You know you'e an elementary school teacher when you've had a student climb into your lap and fall asleep.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you're fully aware that this child before you will someday become an amazingly accomplished adult who will credit their high school teacher with being the person who inspired their greatness, yet you'll smile knowing you planted the seed.

You know you're an elementary school teacher when you know your job is tough, unpredictable and exhausting, but you wouldn't trade it for the world.

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