First graders...

November 08, 2007

(these are kindergartners, not as exhausting but somewhat tiring-teacher just as admirable)
are exhausting. Every couple of weeks I go in and teach them for a couple of hours. As soon as the teacher I relieve sees me she grabs her coat and flees the room with a haunted expression on her face calling encouragement over her shoulder, unable to conceal the pity in her eyes.
The class I teach has a lot of issues. Supposedly it's a mainstream class, but in it we have Aspbergers, ADD, ADHD, ODD, boy in a wheelchair,diabetic, the class hypochondriac, class whiner, class tattler, nose picker, thumb sucker, kids who cannot write their name, kids who can write pages of coherent well thought out sentences, and the usual hyper, spastic stuff that comes along with a bunch of 6 year olds pent up in one room with an inadequate oxygen supply for far too long.
It never ceases to amaze me that children come out of school knowinganything under these circumstances, and truly,I think teachers must be superhuman. Just the crowd control is about all I can handle. And I have four kids, I'm not a stranger to managing a bunch of people at the same time. But there's a bunch..and then there's a bunch. Nothing extraordinary is required of me, other then to teach them Maths (which is really the biggest irony on the planet), but it's not like I'm doing any heavy lifting or physically chasing anyone down. It's not pre-school. And it's not the act of teaching in general, as I do that quite regularly to other varied audiences with no ill effects.
The only logical explanation is that for some reason or another I always get a terrible night's sleep before I teach. It's quite uncanny but it happens without fail. But I often don't go for a run on those mornings because I need to get more done at home before I spend the afternoon at the school, so one would think that I would be all rested up.
However, the bad night of sleep combined with the rigours of taking on the 6 year olds, has me practically staggering to my car at the end of the day. I am more physically spent after 2 hours of teaching these kids then I am after 2 hours of all out running. It's completely pathetic. I can barely construct a sentence to my own children as we are driving home, and heaven forbid one of them do not comply, but immediately with my commands because I do not have the energy to re-issue them after having repeated every word I have uttered 23 times in the 2 hours prior.
I have felt more energy after 24 hours of labour, delivering a baby, haemorraging nigh unto death and then staying awake 24/7 for a week after, nursing that baby, then I do at 3:30pm on the days I teach the 1st graders. For real.
Once home, my blood sugar takes about 3 hours of being tenderly plied with peanut butter sandwiches and hot chocolate to recover from that fasting, shakey, hypoglycemic feeling. I seriously do not get how I can feel so completely and utterly spent  doing nothing more strenous then standing around for 2 hours saying, "boys and girl....BOYS and GIRLS....clap clap clap...BOYS AND GIRLS" and trying to explain how "10 more" is the same thing as "plus 10" and how turning to face the right direction in your desk, is a good way to avoid seeing the person behind you sticking their tongue out at you, and why picking your nose and eating it is just nasty and there is the hand sanitiser, please use two squirts.
But every time I leave there with the haunted expression etched on my own face, I am forever grateful for those that have whatever freakish superhuman energy it takes to be a full time elementary school teacher. A lot about our public school system is really, really messed up but those teachers,seriously, they are amazing.
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