In the noble profession of teaching your role is to, well teach, right? Yes. But beyond this simplistic explanation are several more appropriate answers. As a teacher, your purpose every day is to lead and also to model. You constantly nurture and support. You constantly monitor and build up confidence. Everything you say must be consistent, steady, supportive. Every day you must find in your reserves levels of patience you had never expected you had. Ceaselessly you remain controlled, in control, aware of everything, not just one thing. You multi-task like E.T. reads – like an alien. Sometimes you’ve got to be nice to little people that give you the shits and cross with kids you’re secretly barracking for.
But if you were to muse too long on such a farce, you’d inevitably lose your mind, because simultaneously, you’re meeting parents to discuss their childrens’ report, arriving late to bus duty, chasing up camp forms, making posters about the narrative genre, writing up a behaviour incident form, following up the welfare coordinator on each of the 6 kids in your class with trauma, emailing the librarian to proclaim that you don’t have ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ for the fifth time, finding some socks for the new kid, watering the crysanthemums for the plants experiment, finishing the running records for all the kids’ reading assessments, reading, annotating and filing 13 work samples, and possibly eating your lunch from yesterday at 4:30 after you apologise to the cleaner for putting recycling into the normal bins (and that was only because the new kid spent 15 minutes angrily cutting up his maths sheet into tiny little pieces after someone told him he was no good in downball at recess).
Seriously all of this is real. And it’s absolutely a fantastic job. But it does require a religious amount of maturity and composure, which, even if it comes naturally to you, is a tough act to keep up every day.
In amongst all this being sensible, I recently came across one of my cheeky students making his friends laugh by contorting his face to look like a monkey’s. And it was hilarious. He got it right of course. What else is there, if you can’t be a bit of a monkey sometimes?
And here is why I make this call to arms in defence of immaturity. Regular acts of pointless tomfoolery and silliness is essential for maintaining perspective and an entirely defensible way of spending your time. Too much of being sensible really is a detriment to ourselves.