Teachers in the Trenches

When I’m at work and another adult asks me how my kids are doing, I always have to clarify, “My kids at home or my kids here?” This is what students are to teachers. They are our kids. Some tend to burrow into our hearts a little more than others, but for 10 months the children in our classroom, are our kids.

This is why when I think about the future of teaching and the slippery slope on which those of us in public education find ourselves, I can’t imagine not doing it. There are days when 19 more years in the classroom gives me heart palpitations–but I’m assuming that is the case with any career. 19 years is 19 years–it’s A LONG TIME. Imagining 19 more years of managing over 100 fourteen-year-olds every day…yeah, it’s daunting. BUT, the thought of not doing it and working in the private sector seems as foreign to me as working in another country. I mean, could I even function if I had to interact with adults all day?

I’m so conditioned to working on a bell schedule, that my brain is used to transitioning to something completely new every 42 minutes, while working in managed chaos within those 42 minutes. How in the world would I be able to work in a business office with that type of hyperactive personality? “Um, Shannon? Why are you standing outside your cubicle?” “Oh, just watching the hallways for three minutes. Do you mind if I high-five people and sing some Katy Perry really loudly also?” “Hey,I’m going to take my two-minute bathroom sprint. Can you watch my cubicle for a minute if I’m not back in three minutes?” “Shannon! Stop asking us for bathroom passes! We are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever we want!” “TURN DOWN THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC. I understand it is the day before a vacation, but you may not watch movies today!”

When I have these fleeting moments of wondering what life would be outside of the classroom, I’m always left with the question of what can I possibly have to offer any business after spending the last eleven years in a classroom with freshmen? I know virtually everything about pop culture, Twitter, sock buns, the difference between a messy pony and a top-knot, cutting weight for wrestling, hunting season (bow and shotgun), and Drake. I know virtually nothing about conference calls and sales meetings, end of quarter strategies, ROI, or intermarket sector spread. I would be a disaster. It would be entertaining, but disastrous.

…on that note, although I know nothing about the business world, I do know kids. I know how to motivate them. I know how to show them their potential. I know how to make them laugh, and I know how to put them in their place when warranted. I know how to make dry material exciting. I know how to show kids that there is more to life than the school or town where they live and there is more to life than the subject that I’m teaching. I know how to teach manners and empathy. I know how to interact with teenagers when they are at their most influential age and I don’t take that lightly–it’s my job to make these teenagers into real people and send them out into the world to work with you.

teacher

Teachers, we are a special breed. We were made for working with kids. We are patient, creative, entertaining, empathetic, stern, flexible, kind, motivating, overwhelmed, and completely crazy individuals who actually chose to spend our adult lives working with more than we can handle. Working with noise and chaos, juggling 25 or more different personalities, needs, and abilities at once. We chose to enter into a career where we take the blame for most, but credit for little. We chose this. We did.

Even though 19 years seems like forever, I’m glad I’m in the trenches. It’s where I belong.

*Side note: I do, however, think that the major positive in working in the private sector would be smell. Classrooms are not large spaces. These not large spaces are filled with teenagers. Teenagers who happen to sweat and fart. It makes for a lethal combination and the assault on my sense of smell is brutal. We had a particularly hot spring last year and my classroom is on the second floor–the non-air conditioned second floor. I cannot even put into words the scent that was emanating from some of these children. It gets pretty ripe. However, I’m guessing (hoping?) that the business world is full of freshly showered and groomed adults who do not make it a point to yell, “Yo! I just beefed one and crop dusted all over this room, man!” (If you happen to work with an adult like this, I empathize. I get it, brothers and sisters. I so get it.)

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Thank you 🙂

About Mrs Momblog

Mom of 3, wife of 1, teacher of 103. Sarcastic always.
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5 Responses to Teachers in the Trenches

  1. Love your blog – I started teaching later in life but have always worked in education. For the last 6 years, I have taught eighth and ninth graders. I really enjoy your sense of humor, but lately I do think I could leave; mostly just tired of the all blame, no credit thing. Happy Monday.

  2. I am so glad I found your blog! I left teaching three years ago to stay home with my children, but am contemplating returning to the classroom next fall. I teach elementary grades and my break could not have been better timed, as I was feeling incredibly burned out by the public lashing teachers were/are getting. I miss it, but feel like I need to have a plan to better sustain myself when I return to the trenches.

  3. Sarah says:

    Yep, the smell is one of the reasons I don’t teach above 4th grade…but the rest is all true. What would I do if i wasn’t teaching? A kid asks me that every year and my answer is all the same: no idea, I never wanted to do anything else! Even in elementary school I made my siblings be my students. I guess I’m just naturally bossy 🙂

  4. Megan says:

    I too, am a mom and a teacher. I am a mom to one five year old boy and an ELA teacher to 55 fifth and sixth graders in a small rural school in upstate NY. (And spending my days with fifth and sixth graders, just adds a whole other dimension to my job…middle school hormones.) I remembered reading your common core post a while ago, when it went viral. It was impressive. I also remembered seeing your Arne Duncan post shared on FB, and it too was impressive. So, I began by “liking” your page on FB. After reading your status updates for a few weeks, I turned to your blog – yesterday morning in fact, during a two hour delay, while enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee (which is a rarity.) And that is when I became an addict! I had to pry myself off the couch and get in the shower so I could get to work on time. Today, I found myself home all day, after catching one of the various bugs making its way through the school. Therefore, I spent much of my day, interrupted many a time by my five year old, reading your blog entries. I laughed along with you as a teacher and a mom and it made me feel a little better.

    I’m sure many have said this to you, but I feel a sort of kinship with you! It has been rough lately in my classroom, in my district, and this sometimes brings rough into my home. Some days I feel so alone, like I cannot ever put into words what I am feeling. So, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your honesty, for your integrity, for being REAL. It is that honesty and realness (is that a word?) that made me feel that connection. I found myself nodding my head while reading your posts. I realize that having one child doesn’t even come close to the chaos of three, but there were many things that you spoke of that I did identify with. And there are other things that a singleton brings, that don’t come into play in bigger families…like the fact that I am the ONLY option for playmate most days, especially since my husband works six days a week! So when I choose to put him off so that I can get one of the million things on my to-do list done, I feel even more guilty then most – especially when I hear, “But MOM! I have NOBODY to play with!

    I have spent much of my life riddled with guilt and anxiety. Which makes things like teaching and being a mom difficult, to say the least! I have spent the last three years trying to find ways to combat these feelings that can become debilitating. I have found peace in weekly yoga sessions, new exercise classes, and my trusted circle of girlfriends…I have also made connections with many new people and have worked hard at changing my thought processes. I try not to let my thoughts consume me anymore and have become noticeably less anxious! One thing that I have been wanting to do for a while now, is start writing. I also think I’d like to begin my own blog. I have so many things in my head at any given time, I know writing/blogging will help clear out some of that clutter. Thanks for the inspiration…not only yours but other blogs that you follow and recommend.

    And if you don’t mind me saying, you totally sound like a girl who’d be great to hang out with…girls night out…good food, good drinks and plenty of silliness! 🙂

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      Oh my goodness you have no idea how much this means to me! Sometimes I think there is no point writing but this just made my day. I’m glad you can relate to many of my posts–and I totally agree with the stress of only having one child. You are it all the time–the main playmate.

      Thanks again for your comment, you really have no idea how much it means to me. (And I do love a good girls night!)
      -Shannon

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