If you ever get the urge to find out what you are really made of, go teach in an elementary classroom a week before a holiday break. I promise you it will test your patience, your flexibility, your organzational skills, your presentation abilities, your self-control, and your sense of humor. Case in point, today marked just six days shy of the much anticipated and needed upcoming Winter Break. Even for the most experienced teacher, these days can be quite challenging.
It's not really the kids' fault. They are so excited about the prospect of two full weeks out of school, and presents, and fun that it can be very difficult to try and listen to your teacher rattle on about a "Step Inside" writing piece as a Native American or how interesting the commutative property for multiplication can be. Even the animal research project that they are all very excited about doesn't hold their attention for very long.
They arrive loud and take longer to settle down for the day. They dilly dally in the hallways and bathroom. Their shenanigans are constant. They talk and they talk and they talk. Today at lunch I even took away their normal "Friday Magic School Bus Lunch Movie" because they were misbehaving so much. As a teacher, I mean business. After announcing that there would be no lunch movie today, they became eerily quiet. For a minute. And then they began chatting and laughing and carrying on. I fought the urge to give in and play the movie just so I could have some peace and quiet at lunch. But I stayed strong.
As I wandered around at lunch, I overheard a table of girls talking about the upcoming Variety Show (a.k.a. Talent Show). They were excitedly discussing ideas of what they might do in the show.
"Mrs. Jeppson! Mrs. Jeppson!" called out one little girl waving her hands in the air.
"What? What?" I replied turning back to their table as I ate my yogurt. During these 'days before a break' teachers need to be always on high alert, thus I was eating my lunch as I walked around the room.
"Can teachers be in the variety show?" she asked.
"We ARE in the variety show," I reminded her. "Remember? We all do an act at the very end of the show." Although calling it an "act" is quite the stretch.
Teacher Act: Last Year
"Oh, yahhh..." she drawled and all the others at her table giggled.
"Way's always a good time! Remember that super act from last year?" I said. "What kind of act do you think we should do this year?"
They looked at one another, thinking about what teachers could possible do in the show.
"Gymnastics!" shouted out one little girl, smiling. "You could all do gymnastics!"
With that, I laughed out loud, picturing twenty or more teachers doing cartwheels and somersaults on stage. It was amusing.
"Well, I'm not sure that all of us would be very good at gymnastics," I told them. "And we probably don't have the right outfit. Got any other ideas?"
They shook their heads no and got back to eating as I wandered off to see why one little one was under the table and another was sitting backwards on his chair.
Soon, one of the little girls approached me again.
"We have another idea of what the teachers can do in the show," she informed me, smiling ear to ear.
"Super!" I said.
"Can you roller skate?" she asked.
"Of course I can roller skate," I answered. "And I'm sure all the other teachers can do that too. But I'm not sure we would all fit on the stage."
"You could always Tango!" she added.
"Tango!!!" At this I grabbed her hands and danced around the room a bit, trying out my best Tango while she giggled and the other lunchers watched in amusement. At this point, if you can't beat 'em, you join 'em.
Today, all of my skills were tested. Patience. Flexibility. Self-control. Sense of humor. But there was a lot of positivity in the day, as well.
This morning our principal and office secretaries made all the teachers a pancake breakfast. I received a wonderful positive note from a teacher friend. One little one grounded himself off the Netbook when he was playing a game that he shouldn't have been playing. My team is really getting our act together this year and accomplishing so much.
And, we are one day closer to the two week break.