Sunday, May 17, 2015

Knock, Knock.

There's a silly list flying around social media comparing teachers' school lives vs. their personal lives.  Things like, "you can eat at a five star restaurant OR scarf down a healthy lunchbox in 12 minutes, with one eye on two tables of fourth graders."

Teaching high school offers fewer opportunities for kids to be shocked when they discover something personal about their teachers.  I'm always amused when I'm with my elementary teacher friends who are seen by a student out in public.  Basically, there are two reactions:

1.  The kids stare, in total disbelief, at this unusual sighting.  (Do they think we actually DO live at the school, and are never in a grocery store or at the mall?  Apparently....,yes)

2.  The kids (elementary) RUN with such force to hug the afore-sighted teacher that they nearly knock her down.

Teaching in a small town, there are some of us who know many kids in another capacity.  Heck, at least two of my students also called me "Mom," which made for interesting classes.  (Both kids claimed I was harder on them than anyone else in the class, which is probably true.)  Others call me by my first name in the neighborhood or at church, and catch themselves halfway through Suzzzzz.....Mrs. Heydt. 

The reality for me is that my persona in the classroom is darned close to the persona that is my life.  Sure, I measure the words I use in the classroom -- (except that one time talking about Holden Caulfield, when I shocked the heck out of a brand new class on the first day.  I still defend the context, okay?) 

When I first started teaching, I needed a quick way to get Gifted kids to stop and listen.  Somewhere along the line I discovered "Knock, Knock."  

Yup, it seems like all the "One, two, three, eyes on me" sorts of phrases resulted in absolutely nothing.  But yell the first line of a joke, and everyone stopped dead in their tracks, echoing back with "Who's there?"

Now here's the difference.  Gifted kids are okay with not knowing the answer, nor do they push beyond that, demanding a joke.  They focus, they respond, and we're back on track.

Until I did it on a school bus, in front of parent chaperones, on a  field trip.  Apparently parents are not as willing to let it go, and move on.

Do I wear my heart on my sleeve?  You bet.  I get emotional.  I let them see me get emotional -- most of the time.  Are there days when I replay the day in the car on the way home, answering the most ridiculous questions out loud with the uncensored response I really wanted to use?  Well, actually, no.  But I have a good friend who uses that technique as his own deescalation technique.

There are a few things that I refrain from saying these days.  Most of them cycle in my head like this:

1.  How can you walk with your pants around your upper thighs?
2. Leggings are not pants.  Yoga pants are for yoga.  You are not currently doing yoga, you're hanging out in a hallway.
3. I wish I could get away with saying, "I don't want to see Bs.  Boobs, Bellies or Backsides."  

Something tells me that would be frowned upon, but it would make for a dresscode that people would remember.  Even if they chose to ignore it.