Saturday, May 26, 2018

Kim Frencken: All teachers are not created equal

Let's face it, we may belong to a group of humans that teach, but we are not all the same. Take for example the primary teacher. Soft singsongy voice. Smiling. Motherly. Cute. Everything is cute. Next to a high school or middle school teacher they look so innocent and ... well... cute. Speaking of middle school teachers, you can see the sarcasm written all over their faces. Or rather, their smirks. Everything and anything (and I do mean anything) can be reduced to a swift sarcastic comeback. High school teachers crank it up a notch. They are more 'adult' in their casual dismissal of teenage angst. Oh, and let's not forget elementary teachers. They are the middle child of the education family. They do a little cute, a little sarcasm, and a participate in a little adult competition. Granted it isn't intentional competition, but there is a sense of the finish line push in the bulletin board race.

There is no way in this world that I could have spent my teaching career in a primary classroom. No way. I'm not soft. I don't sing. I'm as far from motherly as you can get. And, cute? That would really be a stretch of the imagination. Almost every word I utter is tinged with sarcasm. I've perfected the 'look' and the eye roll. And the blank face... almost. Nope primary is not my thing. I mean the kids are cute, but they are little germ bundles just waiting to wipe their snotty hands on you. I almost gag thinking about it. If I could just listen to their kindergarten drama all day and laugh, it might work. But to try and teach them something?! No way. I just don't have the patience.

Teaching high school would not have been a happy career for me either. The first couple to tell me of their undying love that will stand the test of all time would put me over the edge. The first kid who tried to tell me that he knew more than any adult and had the world in the palm of his hand would soon realize that I had already jumped over the edge. The world of status would leave me gagging. I really don't care who your daddy is or what he owns. And that new little sports car that he bought for you does not evoke any feelings of envy. I'm just thinking what an idiot would buy a new little sports car for a teen-age driver. I was one. Once. And I did have to learn a few lessons the dented-fender-ticket way, but thank heavens my parents had the sense to put me in a used tank.

Elementary. Now that could have been a temptation. They are old enough to blow their own noses. They can still be disciplined (to a degree). I mean, let's face it, recess is the life-line of every 9 year old. And, no one likes to have mom called. On the other hand, they tattle. About everything. Every look. Every thought. Everything. You can see them coming a mile away. They have a determined look on their face. They have a mission. To tell the teacher. Well, this teacher doesn't want to be told that someone looked at them wrong so I head it off at the pass. "If you're not bleeding or vomiting, I don't want to hear it. If you are not hurt and no one can get hurt, don't tell me." Harsh? Well, you try listening to a dozen or more "he looked at me mean" or "she said my backpack was ugly" and then judge.

I know God put me right where He wanted me. I wasn't perfect (who is?), but I loved the ups and downs of life with teen-agers. Occasionally, I'd have the urge to run from the building screaming, but for the most part it was fun. Please don't ask my students if it was fun. They'll tell you how much work I made them do and how strict I was. Don't ask administers about my classroom management. They'll refer to me as the little general. But ask them if they learned and they will say yes. That was my goal. To teach them to learn and keep learning. To not quit or give up or give in. To be strong and independent. To think for themselves and not believe everything they heard or read. I have regrets. Sure, who doesn't? But if I had it all to do over again, I would go right back to middle school.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

No comments: