I'm finding that I really like working in a school. Of course, I was thrilled when I first got the job because I had been looking to make a change for a long time, and I found that I had landed in a mostly positive environment where I'm treated well. But aside from that, I've discovered that I enjoy the kids far more than I expected to, given that they're in the dreaded middle school age group.
Working in the front office, I get to know the students far more intimately than I expected; not only am I the one in charge of entering all of the discipline referrals into the district website, but I'm the first point of contact for parents, coaches, DSS caseworkers, and anyone else who visits or calls the school. You learn quickly which kids have bad home situations, or highly involved "helicopter" parents, or medical conditions that must be closely monitored by the school nurses, and on and on. There's never a dull moment, and there's always something interesting going on.
And while kids in the throes of puberty can be real pains in the ass sometimes, they can be incredibly endearing, too. They are so funny; I laugh hard every single day over something they say or do. Just yesterday, a silly, talkative, always-in-trouble 13 year old girl said to me (of a young teacher from Jamaica who abruptly decided to resign and go back home) "I'm so sad Ms. Cooper left! I was the very first kid she ever wrote up!" She was just beaming with pride over that fact! How can you not laugh at that? As for endearing......on Wednesday a dad came to the office and signed in as a visitor. He asked if he could go sit in on his son's class, so I called the 7th grade counselor to come walk him down to the room where the boy was. When she came back, there were tears in her eyes. She told me she had knocked on the door and said, "Davez's dad is here to visit" to the teacher. The boy's head popped up and he said, "My dad? My dad's here?!" and ran to the front to hug his father in front of his whole class. Of 13 year olds. It turned out dad was a long-distance trucker who had been gone a couple of months and his homecoming was a surprise. How sweet is that? I teared up a little bit, too!
Even the troubled kids that aren't always easy to like don't bother me. I have empathy for them and try to show them nothing but kindness and respect. Most of them, even those with the worst behavior problems, respond well to calm, friendly attention from an adult. Exasperated teachers who treat them with thinly veiled contempt only make the problems worse, in my opinion. Of course, I realize that's easy for me to see and to say, since I just work in the office. Thank goodness the burned out, don't-really-like-kids type of teachers (we've all had them) are rare where I work, although there are a couple. We're lucky to have really good administrators (the principal and three assistant principals) and superior guidance counselors.
Also, have I mentioned lately that I love following a school schedule? It's a three day weekend for President's Day, and we'll be off the first week of April for spring break, which will be here in a flash. And summer is drawing ever closer--my first summer entirely free since I was a school kid myself!