It’s Sunday and I’m sitting here in my classroom at work. Just making sure I have what I need all ready, I brought my 5 cans of soup and 5 things of yogurt for my lunches and breakfasttes for the week so I don’t have to struggle up the walk with those and my briefcase thing and my gym bag (shampoo freezes when left in the car) tomorrow morning where who knows what version of Hoth weather we’ll be having. I have a little college work to do for the start of my final class of my ESL endorsement and then the Slice thing. I’m procrastinating the rest and Slicing it up. It’s not my weekend to have the kids and I don’t go out partying really or date or travel or whatever and I’m in this contest at my gym once again (I’m sure I’ll write a specific thing on that whole deal) so in order to keep the buzz of busy going when I don’t have them every other weekend I’ve taken to doing two a days at the gym and on Sundays popping in to work in between sweat sessions just to be a little more prepared. My Monday schedule rocks for a Monday as i don’t actually teach a full class until 10:30 due to schedules but it is good to have everything ready so I can use that time more efficiently.
That long winded intro brings me to I guess what would be the point of this Slice – I am also sitting here waiting to hear from the kids’ mom whether or not middle guy has strep. Further, whether or not part of my time here today will be cobbling together sub plans. For literally my best schedule day of teaching due to all the aforementioned down time specifically in my morning schedule. Tuesdays and Thursday I get zero breaks and on Thursday I have outside duty during recess. And I actually hate getting subs because I like my students. I miss them on weekends and especially on breaks. Honestly. Now, I understand the importance of the teacher mental health day. (Did I just break the educator’s fourth wall? Oops) I have taken a couple of those total since I’ve started teaching. I just took a positive educator’s course that stressed the importance of self care. I have been in here sick as a dog working. Exhausted, mentally, physically. Coughing, sore, etc – just like all of you have. But I do understand that sweet spot where you know all the kids in your classes are in a good social/emotional/mental state and the plans you have the next day are going to be super easy for even the least qualified last minute sub, which to be honest is a thing, and you really need to get something done outside of the building or for whatever reason – so you grab the opportunity. I get that. I’m not poo pooing that at all. I just don’t like getting a sub unless it is in that rare case, and it’s needed, or it’s otherwise totally unavoidable.
Students need stability and we provide that. It’s hard not to see my taking off when healthy on a Monday to take care of middle guy as saying one kids is more important than 52 other kids. The initial and normal reaction would be “yeah, but he is more special, he’s yours!” They all are mine. All of them. With this job comes the acceptance of that. But then when I think about it I realize that throughout the school year, throughout the school day, I am constantly giving small and large portions of my day to just one student. When they’re dealing with something and decide you are the person to open up to. When you are the one to actually notice something is off and no one at home or anywhere else noticed. When you come in in the morning after spending hours sleepless the night before trying to figure out how to help that awkward outsider trying to find their place in the world and you actually come up with a huge idea and can’t wait to spend time with that little weirdo and lay the whole plan on them. Plus, in this case, yes, he is mine in the biological sense. And I realize maybe sometimes, at least at this age, maybe it is hard for my guys to know (and they know) that I also love all these other kids. So of course, if I have to tomorrow, I will take care of my one kid with the strep throat and the busted shoulder. And I will be very happy to see my other 52 on Tuesday, with no breaks or anything.
Yes, our job is demanding and has some of the lowest and saddest lows possible. And we get paid very little. As a 42 year old single father of 3 I cannot begin to explain how broke I am financially. (Probably also a topic for another Slice) But, and I almost definitely said this last year, I have said it on every interview I’ve been on, and to probably every friend and family member I have ever talked to on the topic but I’ll say it again – I always heard people talk about how they loved their jobs and thought they were horrible dirty liars. But it exists. I love it so much. All of it. Every single second. For me to even consider it a bummer to have a rational excuse to take a day off while healthy because I love what I do so much is just another testament to how awesome our profession is. I don’t have tenure where I work yet but because the building is in the hometown I love so much, on the street I grew up on no less, I hope I stick for the duration. But if not I will still be a teacher. This is what I have chosen for my life and I worked so hard to get here and I work double hard to stay here and I love it. So if it means no partying anymore or dating or double days at the gym to keep busy and classroom time on Sundays so be it. I am so lucky to have found something so worth it.