Driving down a street in Summerside, P.E.I. today, I realized that the way you drive says a lot about who you are and what you do. For instance, I was idling behind a vehicle driven by a woman who I could just tell was a teacher. We were both lined up at a crosswalk, and there was a little girl waiting to cross the road with her bike. And this little biker-lady was not budging. While she stood there holding up traffic, precious seconds and minutes ticking by on the clock, I began to imagine what all those drivers waiting for her to make a move secretly were wondering. Were they, like me, wondering what was taking her so long to just ‘cross the road, already’!? It almost became a game. Would she stay? Would she go? Would she bolt into oncoming traffic?
So the ‘teacher’ in front of me did what any proper teacher would do. She laid on the horn. Essentially saying this, “Listen Susie, I haven’t got all day, and if you’re not going to move,… why then I’m going to give you a little motivational pep talk in the form of my blaring horn.”
She was a true teacher. And I know so because she used a manipulative in the form of her horn to teach little Susie what happens when little girls wait too long to cross the street: they get to hear what is (hopefully not) their swan song.
People don’t really understand teachers. I think the public vacillate between thinking teachers have the patience of Job and the evil heart of the Grinch. A little truth in both of those inferences. Teachers, at the end of the day, are essentially just people. When you catch us on a good day, which I hope is by far the norm, I think one would find that teachers do have an extraordinary measure of patience. Even the horn-blowing gal of which I referred to already. I truly think she was just experiencing the Friday Fun-day jitters. That is, the nervy feeling teachers get just before ‘end of day routines’ and bus arrivals on Friday afternoons.
You’ve got to have taught at least one full week to know what I’m talking about.
But you have to have patience- it is part of the job requirements. One poor fellow teacher told me today at a workshop that he asked for a transfer out of Grade 2 after having put twenty-eight snowsuits on little bodies all one winter. He was winded just bringing back the memory of those days spent in the early elementary setting, eyes glazing over with thoughts of all that jumble of winter attire.
And I just love hearing what kids think about our after-school hour activities. One of my students happened to meet up at the grocery store with an EA who works in my classroom. As she realized that Ms. So-and-So was shopping for groceries, the look of utter surprise that come over her face was enough to peel an onion back. “You shop here!!” she cried.
No, darlin’. She sleeps inside my top drawer, waking only when I drop by on the weekends to see if she needs any more granola bars.
I love how kids will tell you anything. A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G So, you have all been duly warned. One mother told me that she once wrote a note to her child’s Grade 1 teacher and premised it with this thought: “Please note: the thoughts and ideas that this child will discuss with you, may or may not be representative of what truly goes on at home.” Point well taken. One of my students once told me that her father was unable to read, causing me to feel a great deal of empathy for both her and her family. Along with a great deal of admiration for the father for admitting this fact to his five-year old daughter. Come to find out, she had actually gotten this fact quite wrong. About three weeks later, out of the blue she says to me, “Oh yeah, Mrs. Gard. My Dad actually DOES know how to read.”
Teaching is a demanding profession, requiring an unusual bladder capacity in most potential candidates, seeing as we have to hold it for rather long periods of time. Particularly on duty days. But I wouldn’t trade it for another career. Teaching children to learn and discover the world around them is a true joy. And I am privileged to be one of these lucky ones.