I haven’t written anything in a while because I haven’t had the time. I recently took a big risk and quit my job to stay home and homeschool my elder son, who is very intelligent and also prone to behavior issues in certain settings. It turned out that one of those settings was homeschool classes. Good grief, he was not having it.
With him happily in pre-K and the little one staying with family during the day, I was able to take a job at a local elementary school teaching special education again. I am loving it. This comes as a shock to me and many who have known me for a long time because I have a tendency to be cynical and sarcastic with a super-dark sense of humor; I am not exactly the archetypal elementary school teacher.
Interestingly enough, being here has shown me that my preconceived notions about elementary school teachers were somewhat incorrect. I have found some sarcastic kindred spirits and I had completely forgotten about the Ms. Frizzles of the world. How great are they, right? Anyway, I decided to compile a list of things I’ve learned since I started my elementary school teaching career:
1. If it doesn’t move, it should be monogrammed. This goes for the students, too. Perhaps this is simply a southern lady thing, but wow. So many embroidery machines, so little time.
2. Everything is colorful. I LOVE this element of elementary school. I can’t stand to be in a boring looking space while I’m trying to be creative. I know that goes for children as well. I like to see their senses stimulated by the lovely colors on the walls and posters.
3. Matilda Jane is a thing. It is a thing with ruffles. It confuses and scares me. I find ruffles… unsettling on anyone over the age of 30. They’re so precious and cutesy that it makes my face hurt and causes me to want to cut myself just so I can feel. (I am not actually cutting myself, no worries).
4. For the most part, the majority of my day is spent smiling and calling children, “Sweetheart.” Seriously. After my time teaching in middle school and military school, I thought everyone faced an uphill battle every hour of their work day. Turns out, that’s optional. I’m good with that. And apparently smiling releases happy hormones, so that’s helping me out quite a bit, too.
5. Elementary children are leaky. From one end or another. Sometimes they eat what comes out of them. Thankfully I am not shaken by this because I have my own children.
6. Elementary children actually want to be at school every day. They are excited to see you. They give you hugs that don’t make you feel uncomfortable. They tell you that they love you. It’s kind of amazing.
7. Elementary children still bring their teacher “gifts.” Sometimes these are formal gifts, like a box of Valentine’s Day chocolate (I got a few), and other times they’re informal, like a rock or stick they saw and liked. Fortunately, unlike with cats, I have not (yet) received half an animal. If I do, I’m calling the counselor.
8. Most everyone is so damned earnest that it hurts. It’s like a folk concert or an art show. I’m starting to become like this as well, and it’s making me feel a way I haven’t felt since my teen years.
9. Elementary parents are (frequently but not always) very happy to be of support or help. I’m not used to this. It rocks.
10. Elementary classes still have parties for special days! They even make up days, like the 100th day of school, in order to have these parties. I have been missing out all these years in middle school!
Anyway, all that is to say, I am really loving this new adventure, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up rockin’ the monogrammed hoodie and some Matilda Ruffle pants, wearing my earnest face, and kicking back listening to Radiohead to keep from losing my mind one day. I gotta keep a little of my edge. As for now, I’m simply enjoying the ride.