When I began working in the schools, a principal once told me that I held a glamorous job. The stare that I gave him should have turned him to stone. He continued to say that I could leave my room and go to the restroom whenever I wanted. I conceded that I had more flexibility than classroom teachers, but glamorous…Come ON!
Later in my career, I had a student who had been picking her nose in front of me while denying that she was picking her nose. I sent her to the restroom to wash her hands. She returned to tell me about the Zombies in the restroom. Glamour. No Way.
How do others see us?
My talented sister-in-law once remarked that she could teach any child in a one-on-one learning environment. At that moment, I realized that working with children in a small group setting put my teaching strategies at an advantage over the classroom teacher. Perhaps what I was observing in my little cubby of a room was not the reality of the classroom. Once I realized that I had an advantage, I began to listen to the teacher’s concerns in a more profound manner.
How our knowledge can help others
The Potty Problem. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? There was a school year in which I became the wise old sage about potty etiquette for girls and boys. I held uncomfortable conversations about restroom rules. It became fascinating to know the rules that men and women have regarding using a public restroom. Our students may become prey to those who would have nefarious thoughts when a parent of one gender sends a child of another to a restroom. Many of our students simply don’t know the rules of the restroom. When we understand, we can help assuage parent’s deepest worries. Our knowledge, as varied as it can be, can help others.
Our knowledge, a double-edged sword?
Early in my career, I was confident in my knowledge. However, I didn’t understand that not everyone in the building has the same level of understanding. Once I figured out how to get rid of jargon, I could help other professionals. And they valued my opinion!
When you have a great commodity, it can be challenging to recognize when and how to share that information. There may be times that you don’t know how to help. Others may expect you to delve into the situation and determine an outcome under less than ideal circumstances. People may become frustrated with your attempt or feel that you don’t care since you usually have a keen understanding of children’s challenges.
Be honest. Be clear. Let people know what you are able and willing to do and give a timeline. Follow up with the timeline. Then you can feel that you have done your part.
Oh, and the Paperwork
When you carry a caseload of over 60 students, you have to manage the organization or drown in the paperwork flow. If you finally get organized, it can be frustrating to wait for the remaining people to complete their parts. You may need to take notice and give them even more time or more frequent reminders. Not everyone will be as up to speed as you are.
If paperwork procedures make you want to quit your job, please visit our blog on Taming the Paper Dragon.
Children, Kids and, Wooly Worms
Kids are a mess. They just are, but that’s what makes our job fun and interesting. I had a four-year-old student pull a wooly worm out of his billfold. How many four-year-olds carry billfolds, anyway? How the caterpillar survived, I will never know. But I will remember the little boy for a long time.
Enjoy the chaos! Embrace it and Prepare for it!
Remember. You have a glamorous job!