Hug a teacher today (or, How an afternoon as a “sub” made me so much more grateful)

Teachers who educate children deserve more honor than parents who merely gave birth; for bare life is furnished by the one, the other ensures a good life. – Aristotle

I have a tremendous amount of respect for teachers. I’d like to say that I always have, but, well, there were plenty of teachers I didn’t particularly respect when I was a student. So let’s just say that as an adult, even before I had The Boy, I developed this magnanimous level of respect for them and all they do.

The lower grade teachers, in particular, amaze me. First, they need to be able to control a classroom of children (some unruly, some needy, some dramatic), but then they also need to get said children to retain knowledge that may or may not be of particular interest to either party. Once you get to middle school and high school, you get to the teachers who specialize in certain subjects; those teachers can focus on a single discipline instead of multiple subjects. But even then, they work with older, hormone-driven, Angst-ridden pre-teens and teens. So I guess as a teacher, you kind of have to pick your poison.

Last week, The Boy’s teacher asked me to come to school today to stay with the kids while the teachers enjoyed their Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.

“I know you need to check with work, but just let me know,” she said.

Well, how can I say “no” to The Boy’s teacher? I mean, honestly. I suppose I could, but she wouldn’t ask me unless she needed me to be there, so I put in my request and made plans to work a half day today. And I have this philosophy about The Boy’s teachers: They’re my coworkers in the job of educating The Boy. Cute Husband and I can only do so much; we need to partner with his teachers to give him the best possible education.

When I arrived at school today, the kids were all sitting down, getting ready to have lunch. Ms. M and Mrs. G gave Sarah (another classroom mom) and me instructions and reviewed the basic classroom rules before they left for their luncheon. It was a lot like babysitting, only with 22 kids there (one of whom happened to be mine). I’ve been around everyone enough times to know who causes trouble, who lacks focus, who likes to be dramatic, who keeps to themselves, etc., so I had a basic idea of what to expect.

And, of course, I refused to show fear. I may only be The Boy’s mommy, but I think I’m pretty capable of managing a few other kids, too.

Lunch was, well, interesting, for lack of a better word. The kids are supposed to raise their hands when they need something, and they may talk quietly among themselves, but no one is supposed to get up and walk around without first receiving permission. And without Ms. M and Mrs. G there, those rules seemed to fly out the window.

Movie time was somewhat challenging. There was supposed to be a DVD in the player, but there wasn’t, which gave the kids an opportunity to be a bit unruly. Once I got the movie in, most of the kids settled down, but then the tattling began. I finally told all the kids that if they couldn’t work out their own problems, I’d start putting names on the board (which meant they’d lose a privilege the following day).

And then, of course, the DVD player froze because the disc was scratched. So I improvised and decided to read them a story. Not wanting to look partial (because I had already told The Boy in front of his classmates that I had no problems putting his name on the board if he wasn’t behaving, even if he is my son), I closed my eyes and randomly picked someone to select a book. (It ended up being Sarah’s daughter.) The Boy wasn’t happy; he wanted to pick the book. But thankfully, that drama didn’t last long.

So when Ms. M and Mrs. G returned from their luncheon, I was in the middle of reading to the kids. It was a story about seeds, and I did my best to keep it as entertaining (and informative) as I could. There were a few names on the board (not The Boy’s, thank goodness), but for the most part, everyone was really well-behaved.

And I was so incredibly relieved to see the teachers return!

I’m glad I volunteered today. I’m glad I spent the afternoon with the kids and got to experience a few hours in The Boy’s teachers’ shoes. I’m also much more appreciative of all that they do.

So to all the teachers out there, thank you. Thanks for setting examples for children, for teaching them how to behave with others, for showing them how to be productive members of society, for daring them to be more than they ever thought they could be. Thanks for putting in the effort so many parents (like me!) are afraid to put in, for caring enough to discipline them, for teaching them more than lessons they’ll find in a textbook.

But most of all – and this particularly goes to The Boy’s teachers, past, present, and future – thanks for helping Cute Husband and me raise our boy. He is who he is because of the people who have reached out in some way to impact his life, and those include his teachers.


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