Friday, April 1, 2011

Two of my not-favorite things about teaching

The stomach flu.

Lately it's been a barf-fest in my classroom. The funny thing about first graders is, they THINK they feel nauseous all the time, and ask to go to the nurse approximately 400 times a week, but when they actually are about to barf they have no clue it's about to happen. So it erupts out of them with no warning, hitting anything that happens to be nearby -- you, other kids, worksheets, books, etc.

Inevitably, every so often teachers catch the stomach flu from the rampant germs that infest the school building. I should probably count myself lucky that I have not had it for three years, but on Friday afternoon, just an hour or so before the official start to the weekend, it hit like a ton of bricks. It could have been much worse; I got off pretty easy this time. Still, it does not make for a particularly fun weekend.

Being a crossing guard.

Not normally part of the job description of a teacher, I realize. However, at my school, each teacher has small weekly duties that we perform, like helping with dismissal, making sure kids are safe as they get off the bus, etc. Several weeks ago, we signed up for new duties. I'm not sure if I didn't sleep enough the night before, or didn't have enough caffeine, or was just temporarily insane, but when the sheet came around I saw "crossing guard" on it, thought "That sounds like fun!" and signed my name. Biggest mistake ever.

So now, every Thursday morning for 15 minutes, I am the crossing guard. And what I've discovered is that yes, teachers work hard, we're underpaid, yada yada yada. But teaching is nowhere NEAR as hard as being a crossing guard. Seriously, I don't care if they only work half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon (what DO they do the rest of the day??), those guys should be earning six figures.

I stand there with my little red stop sign, usually pointing the wrong way until someone points it out, and wave my arms alternately at the pedestrians and the cars. They look at me, wonder "Why is that crazy lady waving her arms at me?", and ignore me. Occasionally as they're driving past me, ignoring my stop sign and my shouts to stop, they roll down the window, a student sticks his head out, and calls, "Hi, Mademoiselle Heathen!" On another crosswalk nearby, a seasoned crossing guard has only to wave her pinkie finger and a whole row of SUVs screeches to a halt. I try to imitate her, but to no avail, so instead she ends up directing both her traffic and mine -- from approximately a quarter of a mile away. Usually, after it feels like I've been on duty for at least an hour, I check my watch -- and discover that it has been all of 90 seconds since I started.

Thank goodness, on Friday my principal told me that he hired a real crossing guard to stand in my spot, so I'm off the hook. Somebody must have realized that a car was going to hit a kid and the school was going to get sued, big time. Just glad it didn't happen on my watch.

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