True confession of a lifelong educator: I can’t do anything else.
And I don’t mean that in a fun-loving way. I mean I have no discernible skills outside of education. I can barely hammer a nail, I struggle with basic math, I have exactly zero interest in cars, business, or medicine. I’m a terrible salesman.
There’s a great Seinfeld scene in which George is trying to figure out his next career move after quitting his real estate gig abruptly. Though completely farcical, it hits a little too close to home for yours truly.
While there’s power and pride in knowing you were put on this Earth to do one thing, it is also terribly humbling and more than a bit intimidating to know you were put on this Earth to do one thing.
But hope is not lost.
During one of my “walk and talks,” a way for me to connect with kids outside the walls of our building, a 4th grader with whom I work often provided me with what could be a possible career backup plan should this whole education thing go awry.
Me: Tell me about what’s different for you since I got here.
Him: I dunno. The last principal wasn’t a therapist like you.
Me: Buddy, I’m not a therapist.
Him (after long pause): Well, you could be.
And there you have it. All the eggs in my educational basket were cracked by a 4th grader who associates his time with me as therapy.
I’ll take it.
Actually, despite my self-effacing commentary to the contrary, I often say that if I weren’t an educator, I’d be in the psychology field. I find it all fascinating and can picture myself wearing a tweed, elbow-patched blazer, puffing on a tobacco-less pipe, sitting in a gigantic leather chair as I opine, “Tell me about your relationship with your mother.”
Frankly, this field demands that we have a touch of therapist in our delivery and approach. Kids need to feel heard and advocated for by someone other than their parents. Ask any random sampling of people about their favorite teachers and you’ll inevitably hear about how those teachers made kids feel.
But there’s yet another facet to our work as educators: the journalist.
Communicating with parents, though not explicitly covered in pre-service lecture halls, is one of the most important, if not challenging, parts of our job. And for those of us who have a touch of therapist in our Edu DNA, that communication can become, well, confusing.
Reporting a student’s transgression should be simple. Give the day and time, the circumstance, and the punishment, if applicable. But as journapists, we have an innate desire to coax, cajole, and counsel our way through those conversations. Sometimes we have to steel ourselves against some common refrains.
As a parent, I get it…
He’s still a kid and kids make mistakes…
I would (insert blinding pearl of wisdom)…
The thing is, the more we speak to parents, the more journapist we become, like going to the gym but for social-emotional learning.
It’s Tuesday morning at 5:45am.
Our time is up.