It's my fifth year of teaching. And I'm still learning things. In fact, I think that when I'm old and gray, I'll still be learning things about this profession I have chosen for myself. Honestly, that's what I like most about my job. Everyday is different; you just never know what's around the next corner. These kids keep me guessing everyday. Of course I love teaching them, but the adventure is half of the fun.
Here is my list. A list of fifteen things that they should've taught us in college. In fact, they should have a whole entire 3-credit class on these kind of things.
1. Don't, I repeat do NOT, ever forget your lunch at home.
It's inevitable. You will forget your lunch at some point, and when you do it will be the WORST school lunch day ever. My school doesn't have a cafeteria, so the salad bar isn't an option. Instead I'm stuck with options like Shepard's Pie or Chicken Pot Pie. Seriously. Those are the two days I have forgotten my lunch. This year I forgot it on an "order McAlister's day" but honestly, I would have rather eaten grass. Oh and to my friends that have actual lunch breaks at other jobs, please stop posting instagram pics of your deliciousness. My daily salad just doesn't compare.
2. Halloween parties will make you curse the person who invented Halloween.
I love school parties. They are the best, seriously! But I don't know what it is about the dreaded Halloween Party. Perhaps it's because this is the first party of the year. You never know if you're going to have THAT class. You know the class who you whip into shape, only to find that when parents are in the classroom they act like a circus and it makes the parents wonder what you do with them 5 days a week? Throw in that possibility, mix in costumes, and add a layer of candy. What does that equal? Chaos.
3. The two best words you will ever hear: JEAN DAY.
I used to take advantage of the fact that I could wear whatever I wanted in college. I should have worn jeans everyday to make up for the fact that now I only get to wear jeans one day a week. When I heard the glorious words during my third year of teaching that every Friday would be jean day, I said a little prayer. And whenever admin changes, I cross my fingers hoping they will feel the same. It's the best. Got a new sweater and it doesn't match any of your "teacher pants"? Save it for jean day. Got a new school shirt and you're not the type to rock a t-shirt with dress pants? Save it for jean day. But come on people, jean jackets do not go with jeans. Save that for Monday-Thursday.
4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Everything.
Nobody's perfect and I hope that the parents of my students realize that. But after a few friends suffered from parent complaints my first year of teaching, I have learned to proofread everything I do. I try to always draft e-mails and then read them again when I have a moment to myself. And I always ask for some teacher advice before I respond to any upset e-mails. I should pay my next-door teacher extra money for her proofreading skills.
5. You'll spend more money than you could ever imagine on Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts treats.
Two words- thin mints. Ten more words- every girl in your class will be a Girl Scout. Do you understand what I'm saying? You'll sit down with an order sheet and pick out three boxes of your favorite cookies. Only to have another student come in the next day with another Girl Scout order form. I mean, you can't say yes to one and not the other, right? And don't even get me started on the Boy Scouts. Great organization, I love the group. My dad and brother were big into it. But I spent $25 dollars on a regular sized bag of popcorn. I just keep telling my self (and my negative bank account) that it's for a good cause...
6. Some Friday nights will be spent on the couch watching Netflix, and you'll be okay with it.
My first year of teaching was great. I was 22 (okay I turned 23, but we'll just pretend I'm Taylor Swift-style 22 for a moment), I had a great group of friends from work, and we went out EVERY Friday. I didn't even have to bother making plans. I just knew what I was going to be doing every Friday night. Then I got old. I'm not even sure when it happened. It started with a "I'm just going to take a quick nap before I go out" to a full fledged "I'm already in my PJs at 7pm and I'm not going anywhere." I was ashamed for a moment, but now I kinda sorta look forward to those nights.
7. You'll encounter some people who just shouldn't be teachers.
I've realized that not everyone is going peppy 24/7. There are just some people who do not want to say good morning to you when you say it to them at 7:05 am. I get it now. But when I hear people constantly yelling at their students, complaining about their job, and just moaning and groaning all day... I have to wonder why they wanted to become a teacher in the first place? I'm not saying you need to put on an act all day long, but a little happiness goes a long way for some kids. It will make you mad, but you just gotta keep doing what you're doing and MYOB (mind your own business).
8. Field Trip nightmares are a real thing.
You don't know night terrors until you wake up at 2am on the night before your first field trip screaming "WHERE'S SAM?" You'll dream of forgetting kids at school, leaving lunches behind, kids getting lost, buses breaking down, the bus driver getting lost, forgetting an epi-pen, losing a parent's important information, and countless other things. But you'll be fine. Unless one of your chaperones (who may also be a principal at your school) loses your student who is the daughter of another teacher at your school. Not that this has happened or anything...
9. Your students will remind you of your clicking biological clock.
Marriage, babies? Come on teacher, give us something to look forward to. When I was single, my students asked me e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y when I thought I would get married. Then I met Mr. R and the students asked me when they thought he would pop the big question. Then I got engaged and they need a daily reminder of when the wedding is and where it will be located (note to self- security guard to make sure I don't have student wedding crashers). And now that I'm 7 months away, babies are on the brain. My students think babies just automatically come to married people and they want to know when mine will show up. Thank goodness that's what they think.
10. You can't even begin to imagine the happiness that comes when your struggling student finally gets that hard concept.
I have a student or two each year who just absolutely take my breath away when they finally get it. You've worked hard, they've worked even harder, and if you're blessed with good parents, then they've been working too. And when that light bulb goes on, it's magical. The best feeling you'll ever feel as a teacher. I'm waiting on a few light bulbs this year, and I can't wait for that amazing moment.
11. Snow days are the best thing ever... until you have to make them up.
January and February...bring on the snow! There is nothing better than seeing that online notification that school has been canceled because of snow. You can spend all day in your pjs, drinking hot chocolate, and (in my case) playing with the dogs outside. But then the dreaded thought crosses your mind- oh lawd, the only make up days are June 5, 6, and 7th. And then the snow keeps coming down and you think- I'm gonna be in school making up these days until July 12th.
12. August is like one long Sunday night that lasts 31 days.
Leaving school on the last day in June is wonderful. In fact, I usually hold up the peace sign as I pull out of the parking lot. A little tradition that makes me smile, no matter how crazy I look. I'm usually in a "peace out school" mode until July 31st. Then I have a "what in the world have I been doing all summer" moment when I start to hate myself for not getting anything ready. Then August starts... oh August. You're the worst. Besides football starting (and my bestie's birthday), there is nothing good about August. You know that feeling you have on a Sunday night when you're feeling a mix of "gosh I don't wanna go to work tomorrow" and "man I feel like I'm forgetting to do something"??? That's how the whole month of August feels for a teacher. And forget having any time to yourself once you get your class roster. The next 3 weeks of your life will be spent writing new names on literally everything. A student of mine asked me about some names I had on my guided reading buckets. I realized the names were from 3 years ago. Three years. Labeling is for the birds.
13. Your entire paycheck will be spent at the Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Rack.
If I would have kept a tally of all the things I've bought from the Dollar Tree and Target (okay, I also spend loads at Hobby Lobby and Dollar General for school), I would probably have enough money to make a down payment on a house. You have no idea just how many book buckets, reading pointers, organizational tubs, file folders, sentence strips, and prize box toys you'll actually need. The kids can tell when it's the end of the month because the prize box is dry as a bone. "But I don't want a used pencil or free scholastic stickers." Sorry kid, it's November 23 and Ms. P is broke.
14. Your entire closet will look like teacher-clothes and will only consist of "sensible shoes."
A few years ago I got rid of anything too short or too revealing because I'm like a role model now and all. Plus also I'm old. My real-life friends are having babies. Nobody wants that bff who you're afraid to have your kids around because they are dressed like they're going to Club Ra (Columbia reference for my USC friends). Now my closet consists of 3/4 sleeved shirts, cardigans, boyfriend khakis, appropriate dresses, and shoes that I can wear for 8 hours without wanting to cut my feet off.
15. You will lose all sense of shame.
I remember the first fall festival at my school. I had to run a game all by myself and I was oh-so-shy. Pssh. Not anymore. Wanna be part of a flash mob? Sure. Wanna play musical chairs with fellow teachers in front of the whole school? Of course. Wanna dress like a 100 year old in curlers with baby power in your hair? I'd love to! Those days of caring how you look are over.Sweat pants, hair tied, chilling with no make-up on? If it's okay with Drake, then it's okay to run out to Target looking like that and having 5 school families see you in all of your glory. I don't even worry about it anymore. They've seen me in my best, now they've seen me in my worst.
If you're a teacher, comment on this and tell me what you think they should've taught us!