Thanksgiving break is over and it went way too fast, as expected. Surprisingly/Thankfully, the kids came back ready to learn and so this week has been pretty awesome so far! Only 13.5 more school days until Christmas Break - how crazy is that?! We have our first field trip on Monday, and I'm pretty excited. I have a love/hate relationship with field trips because they're usually pretty stressful (I can hardly get my students to listen in the confined space of a classroom on a normal day, how the heck am I supposed to do it on the wide open fields of Yorktown on field trip day?!), but they're also always fun. The information the students gain from seeing "colonial life" is so beneficial and such a wonderful opportunity for future teaching and learning because they actually have a concrete knowledge base to build upon. As I was working through all the logistics of the field trip (lunch counts, busses, permission slips, chaperones, etc), I felt a lot like a secretary. This got me started thinking about all of the different "hats" teachers wear on a daily basis. In fact, I think one of my favorite parts of being a teacher is the ability to experience EVERY profession at some point or another... Everyone can always think of the typical/most important ones (educator, counselor, mediator, nurse, scientist/historian/author), but I thought I'd take an opportunity to share some stories to demonstrate some of the other roles I (or elementary teachers in general) play in a typical day.
Fashion Police/Guru: Yesterday at recess, I was talking to my co-worker when a student walked up to ask a question. As she was talking, we both noticed that she was wearing a brightly colored, striped bra underneath of a very light colored, thin sweater. Since no other students were around, my co-worker asked (it was her student) point blank if that was her bra showing through. The girl nodded. My co-worker explained that in the future, she needed to make sure to wear a tank top or shirt under this particular sweater. The girl nodded again. Then, very loudly and nonchalantly said, "My mom makes me wear 'em." Now, for those of you who are far removed from 4th grade, let me explain that this is the stage of life where puberty makes it's grand appearance and kids are changing/growing like crazy. By 4th grade, we're usually past the point of mom's forcing her to wear a bra because all the other girls are doing it (as was definitely the case with this girl). Needless to say, my co-worker was quick to clarify that she was NOT telling her not to wear a bra and reiterated that she just wanted the girl to wear a tank top with this sweater. Unfortunately, these instances are not as rare as we would like. Whether it's telling boys to pull their pants up, or telling girls to pull their skirts down, or sending girls to the nurse to get a t-shirt instead of a skin-tight spaghetti strap belly shirt... we've seen it all.... in 4th grade... and once again I'm thankful that I don't teach middle or high school because I'm sure it only gets worse. :)
Copy Machine Technician: Not too much to say about this one, except that I'm AMAZING at unjamming copy machines now. Seriously, I think I might add it to my resume. For whatever reason, our copier decided to freak out after only 4 years, instead of the 5 that would allow it to be replaced. Since we work in the most strangely money-managed school district ever, they continue to send out a repair man every week (at who knows how much money per hour), instead of just buying a new one.... And since the repair man is not on call 24/7, I just had to take matters into my own hand and figure out what exactly it means when it says "clear the jam in areas 2,3,4" or "replace fuser cartridge." All in a day's work. :)
Artist/Performer: One of my favorite parts about teaching elementary students is their strange idolization of their teachers. :) Not to sound big-headed or anything, but I'm pretty sure my students think I'm the coolest/most talented/smartest person to ever walk this planet (or at least most of them; the rest of them think I was born yesterday and honestly think they can trick me with stupid 4th grade tricks.). So, why do I say this? Well, because they tell/show me everyday. Haha. If they're not laughing at my jokes, they're making me cards that say "I love you" or "You're my role model" (well, actually it said "roll motel", but it's the thought that counts!). If they're not telling me how pretty my hair looks today, they're listening intently as I read them a story or tell them a random fact about who knows what! My favorite times, though, are when I become Leonardo DaWacek... Anyone who knows me, can probably tell you that I inherited the Wacek drawing ability, which is NONE. Literally any animal I draw looks like a combination of a horse and a cat, and every person I draw is a stick person. However, if you were ever to listen to the way the students talk about my drawings, you'd think they were being shipped to the Louvre. Seriously, multiple times I've heard my students say "Wow, Ms. Wacek. YOU should be the art teacher! That drawing is SO good!!" Ok, really? Because I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a boat, but it looks like a pumpkin... or something of the sort. Haha. I also inherited the Wacek singing ability (which again, is NONE... they're a very smart family and don't need the artsy stuff apparently). My students were not as lenient when I tried singing a Virginia Studies song to the tune of 3 Blind Mice, but after laughing with me at my voice cracking once, they were chiming right in and didn't want me to stop singing. (I would just like to point out to anyone who hasn't heard that song in a while that it gets EXTREMELY high pitched and moves SUPER fast through the verses. NOT a good one to rewrite.) All of their encouragement just makes it that much more fun to really get into my act and give them a show. I've only been teaching 1.5 years, but I've already learned that the bigger fool I make of myself, the more my students learn/respect me. Haha. Go figure.
Hairstylist: On Monday, one of my girls walked into my classroom with tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me her ponytail was too tight. I looked at it and saw that it was an extension and realized that I had NO idea what to do with it. I told her to go down the hall to one of the black reading interventionists because she has two daughters and would be able to help. My student was too shy, so I offered to walk down there with her. The reading interventionist said she didn't know anything about weave, so we went to check with the nurse. The nurse said she wasn't allowed to mess with anybody's hair because too many momma's have been in the school wondering who messed up their daughter's 3 hour, $50 hairdo. We headed back to class and my student was still in pain. She went to call mom to see what to do and mom said either take it out or deal with it. The student came to me and said she wanted to take it out, but didn't know how. I looked at it briefly and thought it was just rubberbanded in, so started trying to take it out. Literally 10 seconds later, I was standing with a large mass of long, fake hair in my hand and the girl looking at me with only a tiny little ponytail poking out from the top of her head. We looked at each other for about 30 seconds before I handed her the hair and told her to have a seat and get to work. Haha. She put her hood on for a few minutes to hide her lack-of hairdo, but then before I knew it, the long, fake ponytail was back in and she said it didn't hurt anymore. Haha. Once again, all in a day's work. :)