This past Friday was our school’s 8th grade Gradventure to Universal Studios. Did you have a class trip when you were in 8th grade? Yeah, I didn’t either. These kids don’t know how good they have it. Why, in my day, we carried pagers and walked to school both ways uphill in the blazing Florida heat.
But today, kids get to leave school on a big fancy tour bus and go play at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure from 3:00 in the afternoon until 1:00 in the morning.
Which requires chaperones, as you might imagine. Highly responsible chaperones.
I’m still not sure how I became a chaperone in charge of an entire bus filled with 8th graders. But I had an awesome time, so I’m not asking any questions.
I had not been to the new Harry Potter section of Universal, Diagon Alley. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan (it is the greatest series ever written and I’ll fight you right now if you argue with me on that) and I loved the first section, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But I might, MIGHT have to admit that Diagon Alley was even better.
EVEN BETTER, I TELL YOU.
It looked just like I pictured. Complete with little shops that you could go in and explore, and Gringott’s giant bank with the fire-breathing dragon.
All of the teachers I was adventuring with had been here before, so they made sure to take me to all of the best parts. The first stop we made was in Ollivander’s Wand Shop. They take you back into this amazing little wand shop and in the back room there is the Grand Master Wizard or something like that and he does this whole little routine about how the wizard doesn’t select the wand, the wand selects the wizard. And then, out of the entire group of people, he picked ME to come up and find my wand.
It might have been the most exciting moment of my adult life (aside from my babies being born…) (and marrying my husband…) (and buying our first house…) (okay, fine, so it wasn’t one of the TOP most exciting moments in my adult life, but it was pretty damn cool).
We spent the first few hours wandering around Diagon Alley before finally venturing out into other areas of Universal and Islands of Adventures.
Now, I’m not a roller coaster person. I don’t like speed and I REALLY don’t like heights. And I REALLY, REALLY don’t like being somewhere that I can’t get out of. None of these fears lends itself well to roller coasters. But there were still a lot of things I could do. And, lucky for me, my partner in crime, Kaleigh, had the exact same criteria for rides as I did. So, whenever everyone wanted to ride something big and scary, Kaleigh and I would go shopping. It was a match made in heaven.
This also explains why I have an alarming number of selfies with Kaleigh in my phone right now.
Good thing she’s pretty to look at!
I tell you what, I have had many coworkers in my life and most of them have been fantastic. I’ve had really great coworkers that made unbearable jobs bearable, and that is a huge blessing. But at the middle school where I teach, I have really great coworkers that make a really awesome job even more awesome. And that is, by far, the best combination.
I try not to complain, but teaching can be a pretty thankless job most days. Your main audience, especially when you’re a middle school teacher, thinks you are L-A-M-E and the subjects you are teaching don’t seem to matter to them at all. Imagine if your cubicle mate at work continuously eye-rolled when you spoke, or fell asleep when you were talking, or maybe even threw a curse word at you once or twice a week and that’s a lot like a day in the life of a middle school teacher. And I have learned over the years that I can’t expect thanks from my students because they are children. They aren’t quite sure how to be thankful, let alone show gratitude. And so when I am at the end of my rope and wondering if anything I have said all year long has made any difference whatsoever, it is these sweet teachers that come to my rescue. We build each other up because our job is all about being broken down so that we can lift our students up. Teaching is an extremely humbling profession. And if it weren’t for the amazing teachers that I teach with (a lot of whom aren’t pictured here), I don’t know that I would have the strength to pick my head back up every morning and say, “LET’S DO THIS AGAIN!”
I hear teachers catch so much negative feedback on a daily basis – both in my classroom, sometimes in my school, and in the media at large. But let me tell you what you don’t see about teachers. You don’t see them volunteering their time to hang out with their students on a Friday night until 1:00 in the morning simply because we love our kids. You don’t see them arriving at school an hour or two before our contracted, paid hours begin in order to not just get ourselves ready for the day, but to make sure they are there for those kids who don’t have internet access or a computer at home. You don’t see them giving their time two, three, four, five days a week after school without pay in order to stay and offer free tutoring for their students. You don’t see them praying over their students for two hours straight as they take standardized, high stakes tests. You don’t see them fighting back inside their own school systems against policies such as limiting recess in elementary schools or increased testing time for secondary students.
There are a lot of things you don’t see teachers do, and that’s okay. You aren’t supposed to see a lot of it. Our job is to make sure that none of that extra stuff gets in the way of your child learning, and so we are professional enough to keep those spinning plates out of the limelight.
But sometimes, when the moon hits the alley just right and the dragon’s flame lights up the faces of the people standing beside you, you can be reminded that these people who are simply teachers and coworkers, are really something extraordinary.