A typical day at work includes putting out several fires. I work with fifth graders. If you have worked with, or been the parent of a fifth grader, you know exactly what I am talking about. Hormones are raging, tempers are flaring, emotions are soaring. We tend to relate these things to the girls, but the truth is that boys are equally “terrible” in their own way.
This year, my classroom has consisted of 33 students. I have 14 girls and 19 boys. It’s been an adventurous year!! In addition to the classroom, I have also been attending school full time to complete my master’s degree (I’m done!), am on various “teams” and committees, and am the Administrative Assistant. Administrative Assistant is the fancy way of saying, “We don’t have enough money in our budget to hire an assistant principal although we recognize that we need one. Instead, we will pay a teacher a small stipend to take on the roll of ‘administrative assistant’.” Of course, they are always able to find someone willing.
This week, I have taken off my teacher hat and stepped completely into the principal role due to an illness. Whenever you cover for someone else, you find yourself in a position of knowing minimal history and trying to base decisions on what you know. For example, has this student been in a fight before or is this the first time? Is this a trustworthy student/parent or should I listen with caution?
This is not the first time that I have stepped into the role, but this is perhaps the most difficult time. It is nearing the end of the year, the weather is in the 90s and beautiful, kids are tired of each other, tired of the system, and ready to move on to the next year. This week, instead of in addition to the normal fires that I put out, I am finding myself battling forrest fires. I am trying to tame fires without knowing exactly how or where they began, a very difficult task.
Tonight, as I was unwinding, I found myself wondering if I had committed to attend any games this weekend and realized that I was smiling. You see, whenever a student invites me to attend one of his/her games, I makes sure that I attend at least one a season. The truth is that I am lousy at watching. I usually get caught up in talking and when a shot is made or the ball is hit, I find myself scrambling to catch up to what just happened. I’m good with paying attention during action packed games, but the reality is that my students are still learning basic skills. Few of their games are action packed.
Years down the road, when my students look back to the fifth grade, I hope that they will remember me in a positive manner. I am willing to bet that the “athletes” will not remember that I taught them math, science or writing, they will remember that on Saturday, I came and watched their game. They will remember that;
“My teacher saw me make my first touch down!”
“You saw me pitch for the first time!”
“Did you see that triple home runner that I hit?!?!?!”
They will remember that I sat in the bleachers and cheered them on and we talked about it for the rest of their time at the school. They will know that I care, not because I have to, but because I really do. They will know simply because, “You really came to my game!”
This simple thing is what makes all of the fires worth it.