You have mastered the art of maintaining a straight face when a student passes gas in the middle of your lesson. Think of something terrible. Don’t laugh. Get the kids back on task. Ignore what just happened and pretend you didn’t hear it, too.
Take Your Time
You know 40 minutes is an acceptable amount of time when drafting a parent email. A carefully crafted parent email is a work of art and requires the skills of a literary genius. Your emails are worked up and reworked until every last punctuation mark is used correctly to convey your message. This is not a quick process even though it may only be five sentences. Teachers, your commitment to word choice, syntax, and connotation should earn you a medal.
Mission Impossible Eyes
You have trained your instincts to be able to see ten raised hands and, without even asking, you know who has to go to the bathroom, who needs a tissue, who dropped their pencil, whose dog ran away, whose aunt is visiting from out of town, and who has the actual answer to the question you asked. With methodical precision, you weed out the “I just wanted to tell you” students. Sometimes, your Spidey-sense alerts you to call on no one; it’s just too risky. You make all the students put their hands down and call on a someone who didn’t even have their hand up. Mission accomplished.
Security Blankets are Okay
You have learned how to turn a security blanket into an acceptable fixture in your adult life; however, it’s disguised as a teacher tote bag. In your bag, you have everything you could ever need to survive. Snacks, office supplies, your favorite book, and possibly some student papers that need grading. This bag travels everywhere with you, even if you never actually take anything out of it, it goes to work with you and comes home with you. You don’t feel whole unless you have it with you.
Fluorescent paper is your lifeblood. Not just paper, though, really any paper or office supply makes you smile from ear to ear. Next time there’s a sale on Dixon Ticonderoga #2’s at your local teaching store, I want you to take a picture of your smiling face. Then, compare that picture to your smile on your wedding day. Samesies- I guarantee it.
You have lost a latte to a student passing by. Either they swung an arm, scared the be-jeezus out of you, or they were behind your desk when they shouldn’t have been, a student has caused your latte to spill all over the floor. Being the consummate professional you are, you don’t cry until after the students leave the room. It, of course, happened on a day when you just really needed caffeine.
You keep old clothing like cut off tees, scrunchies, old jerseys, suspenders, overalls, and so much more just for school spirit/theme days. You dress in the most ridiculous garb, and you don’t even wince at yourself in the mirror. It’s just a totally rational thing to do because Dr. Seuss Day is a day for Whoville hair, obviously.
Social Media Stalked
You have been stalked and found. Being the super-sluths your students are, they find your account. They try to befriend you. Not once, but twice. You know they tell all their friends they found you because you get ten more requests one minute after the first one. You crush their hopes and dreams by blocking them immediately. You pretend that profile wasn’t even yours because you “don’t have social media”. That has become your battle cry since the first day you started teaching.
With the highest level of morbid curiosity, you have checked your email over the weekend after report cards are sent home. You just know you’ll have an email from “that” parent. You just can’t look away. You need to see if “that” parent actually emailed you. You have cried yourself to sleep over a happy email. You have cried yourself to sleep over a nasty-gram from a parent. You keep reading and rereading that email. They can treat you like garbage, but you have to be restrained and professional. You cannot engage in the adult-to-adult conversation you wish you could. You wouldn’t do it if you had the chance anyway, but you can dream. Can’t you?
You know that the phrase “That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.” is not just a phrase. It’s a real plea created by teachers after being in a classroom for fifteen minutes. You have seriously contemplated changing your name each year because last year’s name was officially worn out.
You have learned survival techniques to get through each meeting. Bring chocolate, take verbatim notes so you don’t get distracted, and sit across from your work bestie so your eye rolls don’t have to travel a far distance. You secretly like meetings because, well, gossip flies at these things.
Just Ask Me
You have learned how to run a school by watching how to NOT run a school. You wish that your administration would just ask you how to do everything. You’ve been around long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. You go around and tell everyone how qualified you are to do the job of administration. This leads me to our next one.
The Principal’s Office
When you get called to the principal’s office, you cringe. She definitely heard me bad-mouthing her new math initiative; I’m getting fired. Your heart races as you walk into her office and close the door. She then thanks you for your help with the safety committee. You realize you’re a jerk and don’t want to run the school anymore because you gastrointestinal tract just can’t handle the stress. This brings me to my next one.
What’s in a Name?
You have learned all the names that make your body quiver with a mixture of anxiety, fear, and alertness. Literally, just an utterance of one of “those names” can render you in a panic in which you instinctively hide your scissors, lock the windows, and tie your hair back.
School is Cool
You just love going to school. You just love it. Learning. Sharp pencils. Blank paper. New crayons. Books. Books. And more books. School is life.
School photos are your nemesis. You’ve had over two decades of opportunities to practice for this yearly closeup, but you have yet to perfect it. Don’t worry, you’ll have about 25 more chances throughout your career.
Handwritten letters make your heart sing. Literally, on the worst day of your life, a child writes you a letter or draws you a picture and you feel instantly better. They draw a picture of you with them. You have gnarly teeth, a huge head, a plump mid-section, while they look like a princess, and you love it. It makes your heartbreak a little less. It helps you stop, breathe, and think about the beauty of life.
You learn from children. Children remind you that life isn’t so bad. Life is full of hope. Life is full of amazing things. Life is worth slowing down for. Life is worth smiling for.
You know you are teacher when, teaching is your lifestyle and not just a job.