a teacher’s life, redux (part 1)

It’s true – I’ve taught schoolchildren for real money. Several times, actually. Granted, the pay wasn’t all that great since I was merely responsible for educating the future of America, but I proudly wore the teacher’s mantle. Now that I crunch the numbers I see my first year’s students have crested thirty, voted in a number of elections, and likely have families of their own.

Holy crap, I’m old.

I’ve found that you never really lose that teacher voice, though, and it’s come in handy in my second (third? fourth?) career as a frequent flyer volunteer in the elementary school. But as for today’s post, let’s start looking at those teacher adventures, shall we?

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How Teacher Appreciation Week Nearly Killed Me Last Year (and How I Plan to Survive This One)

Teachers are da bomb, y’all.  Da. Bomb.

They show up – every single day – no matter what.  Budget cuts, political upheaval, poor working conditions.  Kids from single parent homes, military homes, families living below the poverty line, families who’ve never caught sight of the poverty line.  Kids with no support at home, either because the parents place a minimal value on education or they’re working two or three jobs to pay the bills.

Teachers show up for all of our babies, and they lay it on the line.  Because that’s the only way to reach so many different kids in one classroom.  Because no one goes into teaching for the salary and prestige.

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Easy as 1-2-3? Not quite.

Parenting is one long teaching gig.  We’re tasked with raising up the little people until they’re self-sufficient human beings who will go forth and make a difference in the world.  So it’s kind of a big deal.

Except the people can’t go forth and do that do-gooder thing until they’ve gained the necessary skills.  Now at the risk of sounding immodest, I’ve always considered myself an intelligent woman as well as an adept teacher.  It’s not that I didn’t think we’d hit a few snags here and there, but I have to say I’ve been surprised by some of the skills that have been challenging to teach.

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assistant principals, fifth grade, and The Talk

Do you know what’s coming up?!

No, what’s coming up?

The fifth grade class on bodies and stuff!

“Bodies and stuff”?  So you’re gonna talk about bodies and…sports?  Hobbies?  Star Wars?

NO!  Like, BODIES.  They separate the boys and the girls, and the boys have to go with Mr. H. [the assistant principal] and he’s gonna talk to us about…[dramatic pause] like, penises and stuff.

Really?  You say that like you might burst into flame or something.

Ah, the dreaded fifth grade talk.  Is there anything more tragic for an eleven year old than sitting in a room with his or her classmates, listening to an adult they know talk about puberty? Not according to my kids.  T-man survived his and he’s already priming Bear for the dreadful day when she’ll be herded off with the girls to discuss womanly things.

Oh, the horror.

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real world science for everyday use

Now don’t get me wrong, school’s cool and all.  Chemistry teaches our kids about elements, chemicals, and the periodic table.  Earth science teaches them geology, oceanography, and meteorology.  Biology covers the study of life and living organisms.  That’s a whole lot of science knowledge right there.

But there’s something lacking.  I think a certain level of education in the Laws of the Universe would do kids good before they head out into the big bad world.  Now all we need is a strong curriculum proposal.

[Disclaimer: The scientific data contained herein are my own estimations and should not be considered hard and fast facts.  Ever.  As in, if you quote them to an actual scientist or statistician, they’ll most likely fall down laughing.  You’ve been warned.]

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teach all the little children

They’ll need much more than just the ABCs.

” ‘Be Nice’ is one of the most common phrases we say to our kids, especially our young ones…Girls, especially, are given a heavy dose of its close cousin: ‘be sweet.’  Now, what does this mean?  It usually means this

‘stuff your feelings, swallow them hard and just smile even though you want to scream.’ “

Instead of Teaching Your Kids To “Be Nice,” Teach Them This… – Dr. Shefali

in a perfect world

My kids go back to school tomorrow.  We met their teachers last week – people who’ve spent their summer strengthening their skills for a new group of students, or researching material for a new grade level.  Incredibly hard working folks, one and all, and I’ve stumbled across a post that sums up my feelings perfectly.

“I imagine the day when teachers step into the spotlight to become part of the elitist group that comes with being a celebrity.  When teachers are the rich and famous.  When teachers are the ones who own summer and winter houses.  When teachers sail in luxurious yachts bringing back experiences and knowledge to enhance understanding in their classroom.  I dream of the day when sports cards aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.  When every kid wants their teacher’s “Teacher Cards”.  When a teacher’s rookie card is worth more than a tanker ship filled to the gills with crude oil.”

I Imagine A Day | All In A Dad’s Work

Words Crush Wednesday – food for thought

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.”

– Lily Tomlin

One of the things I loved most about the kids’ preschool was its emphasis on the value of learning through play.  Sure, they had circle time and calendar time, but their primary focus was hands on activities that engaged every child.  A morning filled with active learning that was so exciting the kids never felt like they were being schooled.

Kindergarden was a rude awakening for us – nonstop schedule from day’s start to final bell, nightly homework – even their snacks were eaten while working.  I thought that was sad, but then I met someone whose preschool child was sitting at a desk and bringing home worksheets. Preschool!

The best teachers inspire.  Motivate.  Light the spark of curiosity that drives a child to look further, discover more.  That doesn’t typically involve worksheets; then again, the best teachers already know that.

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