Over the years I have put in several hours of volunteer work at the elementary school. I've ridden nausea-inducing school buses for field trips, and spent a lot of time in classrooms helping kids with various class projects. I've logged countless hours in the teacher's lounge, copying papers, coloring, cutting, pasting, and wishing that I had more coffee but too afraid the principal will yell at me if I get caught drinking the teacher stuff. I've discovered a few things in that time. Parent volunteers seem to become invisible when they are in the teacher's lounge; I must develop chameleon-like skills as soon as I walk through the door and sit down.
(Just to clarify, the majority of teachers will go out of their way to say hi, but there are many who ignore you. Or maybe they only ignore me. Hmm.) Either way, this is where I have learned...things. I have overheard things said about students, and I've heard things said about assorted parents. I have heard things about people I know. Normally, when I gossip and spread rumors, I like to make sure that the people present are not friends of the people I am making fun of. It's all about class, people. Come on. It's not called backstabbing for nothing.
But I get it; we all hate our jobs sometimes, and we all have to vent. And I can't think of anyone who needs to vent more than someone who is with 25 obnoxious kids all day, every day. And not just kids...kids you can't slap. I understand. However, I feel like I have insider information on the secret society of teachers. Over the years, I've watched and listened, and I've developed a pretty solid opinion of some of them. I know which ones are good at their jobs, and I know without a doubt which ones I do not ever want my kids to have. Ever. I look at them and wonder if they went to school hoping to be that teacher that no one likes, or if it was a secret talent that developed later. We're all good at something.
The point here being that yesterday my kids got to meet the teacher they will have for next year. And we are all very happy with the outcome; they got a few of the good ones. The bribery obviously worked. So far, every year we have ended up with teachers that the kids adore. And a few have gone over and above the job, and managed to leave a lasting, positive impact on my kids. They're the ones that my kids will remember long after school is done. And that's no small feat...every teacher shows up for work, and puts in the time and the long after hours, planning curriculum and projects, grading papers, etc. But then there are the ones that do all that, AND manage to talk to the kids, not just at them. These are the teachers that make a child want to go to school; to want to learn and try harder and be better, because their teacher believes that they can. They instill self esteem where there wasn't any, they understand and listen, and they honestly care about their students. They listen when the parent has concerns, and takes them seriously; they don't whine and moan about said parent in the lounge. They understand that parents are the child's only advocate, and that we will fight for our kids and do whatever it takes to help them. They realize that for a child's experience to be positive, it takes everyone; teacher, student and parent. A teacher can make or break school for a child; and so far, every homeroom teacher (and one very, very special reading teacher) we have had has gone far above and beyond. And next year is looking pretty good, too.