My mother always told me I should be a teacher. ‘Great holidays,’ she said. ‘Off for the summer AND you get paid.’ No, I said. No bloody way. Luckily for the children of this world, I was pulled towards a much more selfish and unfulfilling media role.
I do however have a lot of teacher friends and acquaintances – most who were born for the role. Patient, kind, authoritative. Ok, bossy. Some didn’t set out to be teachers – they took long and meandering roads in other careers before finally taking the plunge, studying and coming out the other end, cert in hand, a graduate teacher.
From speaking to them I have come to absolutely agree that all teachers deserve the whole summer off. Here’s why.
[The following stories are all true anecdotes told to me]
1. Crazy parents.
Parents be crazy. Don’t deny it. We are involved. We know best. And we wreck the teacher’s heads! My favourite stories so far include:
–A mother calling the school to find out how her daughter did in the test that day. The test ended at 2.10. She called at 2.20.Patience!
–A father asking the teacher to photocopy, page by page, a 200 page book that his child liked. It was the last day of the school. The teacher told him to buy it. Good comeback.
–A mother calling the teacher to complain that it rained on the school tour
–A mother calling the teacher to complain the teacher didn’t give her child enough stickers. (Now if this was gold stars, I’d understand. All children NEED gold stars).
–A friend of mine was tasked with teaching the children all about their bodies. It was sex education, but the children were quite young and needed to learn the proper names for parts of our bodies. They are taught to use the word ‘vulva’ for ladybits. After getting the children to chant, ‘vulva,’ ‘vulva’ vulva’ over and over again, she asked them later to repeat what they’d learned. The whole class, in unison chanted…
VOLVO, VOLVO, VOLVO. Hilarious!
-One teacher I’ve heard of was drafted in to the class next door, after a male teacher reported the child had a question only a female teacher could answer. The question: “If you shave the hair on your, em… vagina… does it make your period come quicker?” Cue red faces all round. Teachers really do need the summer off to recover.
3. The Insults
Children are so honest. It’s beautiful. It’s innocent. It’s insulting.
-One friend reports: I was working with a special needs child on colours. I pointed to my hair and said ‘I have brown hair.’ (It’s highlighted). ‘No you don’t,’ he said. ‘You have brown, blond, orange and grey hair.’ Thanks, thanks a bunch. But you’re right.
4. The love notes
As children learn to write, they discover a whole new communication method. One can get their point across without even speaking. Here’s a note a teacher showed me from her class this year.
5. The hard work
I don’t know about you but I find days at home with baby very long and very tiring. Can you imagine spending your day with 30 of these tiny growing up creatures? (No, and it’s exactly the reason why I didn’t become a teacher. Creche workers also, I salute you). Sometimes teachers don’t have the resources they need to do the job properly. A close relative of mine reports:
When I first arrived I was thrown into a classroom with a bunch of eight year olds having had no time to prepare a class and without any book or supplies to help me. One child kept taking his shoes and socks off in the middle of class and propping them up on the table to the amusement of the others, but not me. One of the children was hyperactive and spent the class standing on his chair, screeching or lying on the floor and literally trying to climb the walls. It was a tiny box room with no toys or games to keep the children entertained. I was sweating.
Sweating? I’d have been swearing. And gone; see you later alligators. The truth is peoples, if we all wanted the paid summer holidays, the 3pm finish and the mid-term breaks, we’d all have gone to college and studied, just like our teacher friends. But the truth is that the profession is a vocation, a calling, a tough job at the least of times.
Teachers, I hail you. While you can take the summer off and enjoy your holidays and do up the house or just do nothing if you feel like it, September is always only around the corner. And waiting, will be a fresh batch of brats, all ready for you. You, the teacher. Mwuh haha haha haha, mwuh ha ha ha ha ha ha.
I’d love to hear your own stories from the classroom. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.