Friday, May 22, 2009
You Can Take the Teacher Out of the Classroom...
I don't volunteer much at my childrens' schools. I know as a SAHM I'm supposed to. But I don't. And it's not out of laziness or lack of interest in my childrens' lives. Honest. I DID volunteer today and I was reminded of EXACTLY why I don't.
Yesterday I was (mildly) lamenting my lack of a professional life, but the truth is that when I WAS a professional, I was a teacher. Our dress code was a little different than that of the women in my husband's office. (and the woman in the picture) Yesterday I was missing something I'd never had. But that's not what I set out to talk about.
I set out to talk about why I don't volunteer.
Today was Liv's Stunts and Studies day. This is an excellent program that our middle school has been doing with it's fifth graders for around 20 years. It combines traditional field day activities with "are you smarter than a fifth grader" type questions. So for each 'stunt' they must correctly answer a question taken directly from the fifth grade curriculum to earn a point for their team. I think it's a really cool way to integrate academics into a fun day. It is also very well organized and both times I've worked it, it has run like clockwork. This cannot be said for every experience I've had in my childrens' schools, so I need to give credit where it is due. It's saying a lot, too - since it involves the entire fifth grade - 18 classes, each with approximately 30 students. Organizing an activity for that many eleven year olds that runs that smoothly is impressive indeed.
And you're thinking, "That's swell, Tammy, but you're off on a tangent again. I thought you were going to tell us why you don't volunteer. All you've done so far is brag on your kid's school and tell us what a great experience this is. Have you been tested for adult ADD? Because you can't stay on topic for love or money, and I should know. I've offered you both."
Isn't it amazing? My ability to read your mind? And I would totally stay on topic for money.
I was not off-topic. I was merely setting the stage.
As soon as I was given my assignment, I went into teacher mode. And THAT is why I don't volunteer. I was not there to be a teacher, I was there to be a parent. I just have never been able to properly sort out those roles in a school setting. Right from the start - we were given name tags. I wrote my name on mine before I saw anyone else's. As I started to see them, I saw things like "Mr. Jeff (Mark's Dad)" and "First Name/Last Name Go Team Blue!" and things like that. Mine said "Mrs. Howard". It was printed very neatly and legibly in letters an appropriate size for the name tag so that nothing was scrunched and there wasn't a lot of white space. I didn't put any thought into that, that's just what I automatically did.
I immediately took charge of the sixth grade students who had been assigned to help me. When they got out of line, I didn't hesitate to get out of my chair and remind them of their responsibilities. Other parent volunteers were treating the sixth grade volunteers like equal members of their team. Not me. I had to be in charge. (And you can bet that before the busses arrived this afternoon, "Mrs. Howard is a bitch." was uttered at least once. Perhaps not erroneously.) I found myself instructing the other adult volunteer on my team, too. (Which might not have been necessary if she'd put down her phone and just read the instructions she'd been given. But I digress.)
I was in charge, and I liked it. Except that I had next to no authority. Didn't stop me for a second from acting like I did.
I learned before Lea was out of kindergarten that I needed to stay out of the classroom because these teachers had asked for a parent volunteer, not a mentor. I'd taught for so long - I knew a thing or two about - and what you need to do here is... I would have hated a parent like me when it was my classroom. I didn't want to be that parent. I couldn't NOT be that teacher. I just had to step away from the whole situation.
I quit teaching completely almost a year ago. I haven't taught young people in over seven years. I thought maybe it was safe to go back into a classroom.
I thought wrong.
So I can't volunteer. I'll continue to support in my own ways. It's cool.