On the surface, we may look similar to other professions. Walking along the pavement, you might mistake a young teacher (think: someone who still wears heels and a pencil skirt to school) for an accountant or a stockbroker. You might mistake a middle-aged teacher (think someone who has traded the heels for a sensible pair of flats) for a quantity surveyor or scientist. But there are a few ways that we teachers can spot a fellow teacher no matter where we are.
Here they are:
1. You can eat lunch in ten minutes or less
You can bolt down a sandwich, an apple and a packet of crisps in less time than it takes most people to pick out their food at the deli. You’ve also learned to eat in a crouching position which allows you to spring into action at the first sign of playground violence or bloodshed.
2. You schedule your bathroom breaks like meetings
The luxury of being able to pee any time you feel like it is foreign to you. You’ve got your bathroom breaks highlighted on your calendar for the day, and you take them pretty seriously.
3. A packet of brand new coloured pens gets you really, really excited
Especially if it’s got that lumo orange colour that simply jumps off the page at you.
4. You’ve learned to appreciate soggy pies from the tuckshop
So you didn’t have time to prepare a properly balanced lunch last night. Can you stop in at a nearby restaurant or takeaway joint? No. Instead you learn to savour the gourmet creations of the tuckshop or cafeteria. Half-warmed steak and kidney pie? Your favourite!
5. Your eyes can literally see in three directions at the same time
When you’re on playground duty, you will simultaneously spot the boy about to jump off the top of the slide, the girl about to hit her peer with a ruler, and the two kids trying to sneak off behind the hall to smoke at exactly the same time. Of course, running in three directions at once is a little more difficult.
6. Your idea of a long weekend is not having to grade any papers between Friday and Sunday
Your after-hours are filled with marking papers, writing reports and preparing for lessons. And by after-hours we mean night-times and weekends, not between 2pm and 5pm on a weekday. Which brings us to the next point …
7. People think you work a half-day
8. You’ll automatically ‘translate’ words with more than three syllables
When you’re speaking to fifth-graders all day, you go onto auto-pilot ‘translate’ mode. Every now and again you’ll catch yourself saying to your spouse “That seems superfluous -that-means-unnecessary”.
9. When a friend posts a naughty picture of you on Facebook, your first thought is: “how many of my kids have seen this?
Even if you do manage to have a social life in between after-hours paper grading and lesson prep, there must never, ever be any proof of it. The only time you ever got drunk at a party, one of your students got hold of a photo and shared it with the head of department.
10. Nothing beats seeing one of your kids succeed
There’s no feeling like seeing a student go from an F to a B and knowing you had something to do with it. The long hours, the cheeky remarks, the sometimes lousy pay – it all seems worth it when you’re getting the most important things done.