First year out. You’re now in charge of educating young minds and you have convinced yourself that you will be the next John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society. You will inspire, challenge, engage and motivate our future. You will stand on tabletops and shout, “Seize the day!” This feeling is magical and deep down you are that person but as the reality of the day-to-day grind kicks in, as educational constraints, challenging behaviours and unimaginable exhaustion start to surface you realise that the teacher you so desperately want to be is rather difficult to sustain. You find yourself battling with a number of new teaching personalities.
Over the years, I have come to recognise a number of these interesting teacher personalities…
I’m currently Ms. Caffeine. Two coffees down and I’m furiously typing to finish this post. The final changes have been made to the Term 3 Art planner and ideas for an art show are pouring out of me like liquid gold. Ms. Caffeine is so bloody organised and perhaps a little OCD. Spreadsheets, endless notes, Pinterest boards and carefully labelled containers. Ms. Caffeine does however reach a point where so much of her has been consumed by the career she loves that she inevitably falls in a heap, drowning in a pool of her own tears… and coffee. Only chocolate can bring her back to a less erratic state – that is until the next flurry of ideas and responsibilities present themselves.
Ms Caffeine tends to be kind enough to make room for her more relaxed counterpart… Ms. Tranquil. She’s the one with the sing-song voice, who smiles with her eyes and uses calm and quiet tones. She inspires every child to do their best and finds the key to motivating those without confidence or direction. Ms. Tranquil really wants to learn guitar and play Cat Stevens songs in the hopes it will teach her students something magical about the world. I’d like to have her dotted throughout the day but I’m yet to work out how, which means there’s no ‘Oh captain, my captain’ moments happening in my classroom and so Ms. Tranquil seems to slip away a little after recess.
Enter Ms. Stone.
Unlike Ms. Tranquil she’s firm and will not put up with any nonsense. Those unique, cheeky students whose antics were endearing first thing in the morning aren’t quite as cute after 11am. She doesn’t yell but her voice is raised, hands are placed carefully upon her hips and the tapping of her foot is always in perfect unison with the ticking hand upon the classroom clock. At times, I don’t mind her. When you need to get some papers marked or are required to break up a fight Ms. Stone is the woman to do it. Those pursed lips and her deep monotone voice send a scurry of feet back to their positions like regimented soldiers. But… “C’mon Ms. Stone. Lighten up a little, yeah? Learning is fun remember?”
The realisation that I’ve been a little harsh tends to kick in half an hour or so before lunch which is usually when Ms. Whimsy waltzes in. She’s playful, a little loud, excitable and over the top with everything. The other day she was amazed by the way a student mixed yellow and orange pastels together to create an interesting effect. “Wow Tabitha! That is fabulous! I really like what you have done to create light and shade there… Outstanding!” Seriously Ms. Whimsy. Just calm down a little will you? She usually disappears by lunch, which is when I tend to be in some sort of trance. Scoffing food down as swirling thoughts about what I have done, what I could have done better, what I desperately need to do in the next 5 minutes and… “Oh my God! I forgot to write out an award for assembly today!’ fill my already crammed brain to point of explosion.
TICK… TICK… BOOM!
The dust settles just for a moment before Ms. Dragon appears, sending me into a fiery hot mess. I don’t like her much but she tends to storm in after I have managed to use up every last ounce of creativity, pulled out every trick from my extra-large teacher bag, or as a result of drinking too many coffees. She doesn’t inspire or bring any sort of joy. She’s just… cranky. Ms. Dragon does however remind me that I am only human and like my students, I have bad days too. She reminds me that anger is an emotion and it’s something we are allowed to feel but how we express it is something we need to be careful with because those young minds in front of us are impressionable. Like Ms. Dragon, all of my teacher personalities have developed and grown with me and aren’t something I should feel ashamed of or disappointed in. The teacher I wanted to be, the teacher I am, the teacher I will be in the future will always change and be different from what I expected…, and that’s okay. I must admit that I am keen to say goodbye to Ms. Dragon and this realisation came when Ms. Minimalist came to visit.
I’m still trying to figure Ms. Minimalist out and what she stands for. For now she’s a little scattered and confused but she’s motivated, excited and inspired by so many wonderful ideas that she knows she can make a difference somewhere. I like Ms. Minimalist so I’ll keep her close. I might need Ms. Caffeine to help me out a little though.
What are your teacher personalities?
Some others that occasionally visit my classroom are:
- Ms. LOL – she’s always joking with her students, she’s totes down with kid speak and pretends to know all the words to that popular song by that guy with the hair. Y’know the one.
- Ms. Muscle – She can do anything. Lift a table, catch a spider, get a ball out of a tree. She has also been known to deal with poo and snot without engaging her gag reflex. She’s a superhero and the kids are amazed.
- Ms. Frazzle – She’s disorganised, late and overwhelmed. She hasn’t done her hair, has dark circles under her eyes and forgot to fill out that important form.