I had a post pretty much ready to go yesterday, but I’ve decided to write something brand-spanking-new and publish it one day later than normal because it was my last day working at one of the schools I teach at. I’ve been there for six months exactly and I have met some of the most incredible kids, the best colleagues and possibly the most awesome boss I’ve ever had in my varied employment history.
I had the go ahead from management that I could effectively have a Friday Fun-day, and the kids have been begging me for weeks about making our own slime (gak in the US, flubber in the UK, generally rubbery slimy gooey clean fun!). So I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the supermarket on Thursday looking for the appropriate chemical ingredient in certain washing detergents. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought I was just ultra-picky about what I wash my clothes in! I was googling ferociously and looking up alternatives to Borax and whether Clorox would have the correct chemical properties to form the bond (incidentally, it doesn’t).
Anyway, when I arrived in the classroom, I had a collection of handmade cards and presents waiting for me on my little table. I had all the kids swarm around telling me which one was theirs and which ones to open first. I got given a really cute little necklace from one of my girls and a tub of pistachios which I shared with the class. I pulled the three bottles of glitter glue and liquid starch out of my bag to an amazing collective shriek of delight. I sent the kids off to change into their old clothes so their uniform wouldn’t get messy as I contemplated opening the cards and messages without tearing up in front of my 8-year-olds.
As a teacher, you shouldn’t have favourites, but as a friend of mine said to me not so long ago, as a person, you like and get on with some people straight away, and it takes time with others. So when I received this message from one of my most adorable little monsters, it really made me feel awesome and upset all at the same time.
Dear Teacher Deena,
I love you Teacher because when I don’t understand you teach me to understand.
Kids are truly incredible. They say it how it is and haven’t yet fathomed how to hide their emotions which makes them both a joy and a pain to teach. In the few short months I have spent with these awesome little humans, we’ve learned about superheroes and villains, we’ve had birthday cake fights, drawing competitions, spelling tests, and poetry classes. I’ve taught them about the four seasons and floating and sinking, parts of a plant and Greek mythology and Fairy Stories. We’ve done Art projects using chalk, salt dough, pipecleaners (yes, I found pipecleaners in Siem Reap!). We’ve learned and tried to do a Zorba the Greek dance, looked at music from all over the world and decided that One Direction is everyone’s favourite pop group!
But I think I’ve learned more than all the kids put together. I’ve learned that I have the patience, the enthusiasm and inclination to educate others, but the extra time that needs to be put in for planning, gathering appropriate resources from the vast information sources online, the time required to grade papers, to set homework and maintain who has and hasn’t completed it [on time], the parent-teacher conferences, report cards and the relentless questions and kids vying for attention has put me off. It takes a better person than me to do this full-time. If you asked me last week, I would have said that I will never teach a whole class again. This morning though? I don’t know. Is it worth it? For messages like these? Knowing that you made a difference? I don’t know; I’m completely undecided.