1. Sweatpants? Check. Ponytail? Check. Flip-flops in November? Check. Running into a former student? Absolutely, of course. Now, even though I’m being flippant here, if you live in the district where you teach, you might as well give up any idea that you can be anonymous. But, I wouldn’t trade a single “Mrs. Chandler!” hollered from across the grocery aisles. When my kiddos—because they always will be my kiddos—tell me the funny things they remember about class or how they think of me when doing a Works Cited, or how I helped them through their parents’ divorce, I come close to tears. What other job would allow you to enjoy that much a part of someone’s life? It almost feels like I’m a rock star, dodging the paparazzi.
2. We’ve all laughed at the “funny student answers” on Facebook, and I’ve even heard people say they are forged, that students would never write those answers. Trust me, due to a bunch of legal and ethical stipulations, I won’t share any of “those” answers here; but I will say that not a week goes by that I don’t laugh out loud.
I am, however, allowed to share stories about my own children—at least legally. So, for your entertainment, I’ll share a few. I love the emails from my colleagues, reporting the embarrassments that go along with having young, often literal, children. When my daughter was in kindergarten, we transitioned her from taking baths to showers during the week, allowing her to soak and play on the weekends, but frankly, rushing her on school mornings. One of her first “persuasive” pieces was “Why kids should be able to take baths,” as if we had banned personal hygiene. Being a kindergartner, her piece was mostly pictures, which clearly showed her begging for a bath and us denying her.
More recently, my son Oliver, in second grade, didn’t paint us in a very good light either. During DARE week at school, students created a booklet about alcohol and drugs. Guess who was featured prominently? Me! We usually don’t even have alcohol at home, but I had won a bottle of wine, so on a random Tuesday evening, I thought I’d treat myself. Oliver walked by, nonchalantly picking up my tumbler (I don’t even have wine glasses!) and took a big sip, thinking it was iced tea. He whirled around and literally spit it across the room--which he chronicles very well. In the same packet, he wrote about how I give him melatonin to sleep--with permission from our doctor—I might add. What does he draw? A picture of a melatonin bottle labeled “Do not give to children.” (Mother of the Year over here.) Luckily, another great aspect of being a teacher is that other teachers become co-conspirators in your child’s life! I’m just going to say it: I love having summers and school holidays off to spend time with my own children, but is that why I became a teacher?
3. Of course not, but it sure is a fabulous benefit—at least until mid-August when I’m ready to let someone else be cool, fun, motherly and educational all rolled into one, all while trying to keep house (whatever that means!), do laundry and cook. It seems to me that all I did was dishes this summer. And, for all my kids’ teachers, yes, they were hosed off in the backyard on more than one warm night. Ban the bath!
Those not in education like to point out our many days off. However, I don’t know a single teacher who “does nothing” all summer. Did I lie around eating bonbons every day? Well, sometimes, but mostly no. I also wrote lesson plans on the beach, went to conferences, hung out with other teachers, met with my principal and wrote more than usual. My brain was not mush. But, I did get to rejuvenate and relax—something I truly am grateful for.
4. Finally, the real reason we all should count ourselves lucky to be teachers is the amazing moments when we know we’ve made the difference—a well-placed compliment, a pat on the back, a smile in the morning, a nagging lecture that nudges a child to do her work, a shared laugh at our own mistakes. A knowing look, class days and dunk tanks, college applications, silly songs to remember figurative language. Tears and high-fives. The best reason to be a teacher is there is nothing quite like being in a kiddo’s tribe—being the one the student knows will listen and cheer him or her on. There’s no better place to be than on a “best-of” list of school favorites. We should be thankful that so many students are touched by us, and us by them. This synergy is what makes being a teacher great.