There are so many things I love about working in an elementary school. Even though at the moment I'm aide-ing instead of teaching, it's still my absolute ideal place to work. Most days, even though it's always a wrench to get up in the morning, I'm genuinely happy to walk into school. I have amazing coworkers, and my school has a fantastic, upbeat atmosphere.
My days are usually full of energetic kids, challenging situations, lessons to be taught, shoes to be tied, and reminders and supports to be offered.
And every so often (read: every.single.day.) something unexpected happens. Something that reminds me that the title "teacher" covers so much more than instructing in arithmetic and reading.
Here are a few things that may or may not happen during the course of my day, serving students from ages 5 to 11, and working with the various staff members required to keep a school functioning:
Remind students to go the bathroom. And wash their hands. Three times a day. Every day. Every.single.day.
Jump, with cat-like reflexes, away from sneezes, coughs, and flying boogers. (Yes, they fly.)
Wash my own hands four million times a day.
Discuss the merits of bringing oxen vs. mules on your imaginary ship to your new pretend colony. Inform the students that oxen weigh more and eat more, but are stronger and good for pulling plows, but mules are more nimble and smaller. Wonder why you retained this random piece of information from Little House on the Prairie.
Receive anywhere from 2 to 20 hugs from 1st graders.
Make copies, cut things out, laminate the things, and then cut them out again...all while staying out of the office administrator's way because her to-do list is fourteen times as long as mine (or so she says).
Be offered a chocolate bar the week after Valentine's Day. Eat it anyway, because chocolate.
Switch gears from kindergarten morning meeting to third grade math (holy word problems, Batman) in the blink of an eye and frustrate countless students by needing to actually read the problem before offering solutions.
Be ignored by the lunch ladies (I will kill them with kindness, dammit).
Unclog sinks, toilets, and water fountains.
Wipe boogey noses, apply band-aids, feel foreheads, and solve most "medical" crises with either wet paper towels, hand washing, or a drink of water.
Tie four thousand shoelaces.
March down the hallway singing the ABC's and leading kindergarteners in rhyming word patterns.
Laugh, smile, and be reminded every single day that this is, without a doubt, the best job in the world and you wouldn't trade it for a million dollars.
Which is good, because you'll never make a million dollars. And you'll never care, because this is the best job ever.