Having the courage, patience, endurance, and fortitude for this profession can be a gift and a curse. Not many people see a crisis situation and head towards it. Few people have the patience to manage crises daily without taking it personally. It takes fortitude to wake up in the morning knowing that today you may face a horrible day. Even fewer have the endurance to last years knowing that every day can be a battlefield and that sometimes you will have more failures than successes. However there is joy to be found in the some of the more quirky events you encounter in the classroom.
One of my really strong teachers once reviewed the steps for going out to the playground with one of her students. The final step for going out to recess was “no peeing on the playground”. A close friend of mine worked with a boy who had a tendency to be very vulgar towards his female peers. He taught the boy how to properly ask girls out on dates, because as it turned out he liked girls very much, but didn’t know how to talk to them. He watched a lot television at home and thought that was how he was supposed to talk to girls to get them to like you. I had to give another student cue cards with replacement “nice words” because he swore often and didn’t realize that his superlatives were offensive to others. (“Sorry, that’s f’n awesome is not exactly appropriate in school”)
A student once said to me, “I love you Mr. Z…” He could have just said that and all would have been fine with me, but he had to add “in a cool kind of way”. I remember having a really good laugh over that comment. It just struck me so odd yet so fitting. We had worked with each other for a couple years. We had walked down a long road with many ups and downs. I’m not his dad or even a distant relative, but we had a moment in which we recognized the mutual admiration, respect, and significance for each other. We followed it up with a fist bump.
There are many situations you would not think you would find yourself teaching in a classroom. It’s easy to take most of what we learn naturally for granted. But the bizarre can easily become the norm when teaching social emotional development. It’s okay to take joy in addressing topics that you never thought needed to be addressed. Your students will appreciate it, even though they may not realize it until much later.