You know why Rick Astley’s a swell guy? I’ll give you three reasons:
1. He’s never gonna let you down
2. He’s never gonna make you cry
3. He’s never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
Who wouldn’t want to be around that guy?
I previously shared my thoughts about 5 Dangerous Things Breaking Bad Taught Me About Teaching. One thing I stated was the need to find a partner. This is true, not only teaching, but for life in general. We aren’t meant to walk this journey alone.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing teachers during my nine year stint in the classroom.
I was part of some tight teams when I taught kindergarteners and first graders. It’s a different dynamic in the younger grades. Classes aren’t departmentalized into subjects, so I got to work with four or five other teachers as a group.
We planned together and took each other’s rowdy students when needed. It was a good thing to know I could go to several different people for help.
Moving to fourth grade was a much different story.
The Big Kids
Upper elementary grades are often departmentalized into the core subject areas. Boy, did I enjoy that.
I taught reading and writing (and social studies as best as I could manage) to two separate classes. It was more students, but less subject matter. One of the best things about moving, though, was having a partner teacher to switch classes with.
Jen was my first teaching partner. I was nervous about moving up to fourth grade. I had never worked with older kids before.
Would I unintentionally treat them like little kids?
Would I be able to build solid relationships with them?
Most importantly, would they get my finely honed sarcastic wit?
Jen made my transition easier. She helped big time those first few months. I remember she checked in with me all the time to make sure things were well. She cared deeply about our students. She enjoyed her job, but kept a realistic perspective on it. Although we didn’t have much in common outside of school, we shared the same flexible easygoing mentality. We worked well together for three years.
The New Guy, er Girl
I almost became unhinged about who my new partner would be when I moved schools. Jen and I had worked together so well. Not knowing my new partner was a huge stressor.
I met Stephanie a few weeks before school started. I peeked into a few classrooms after unloading a crap ton of boxes. She was sitting at her teacher’s desk looking very teacherly. She wore glasses that rode about half mast on her nose and had her hair rolled in a tight bun. She seemed to be working on lesson plans.
This is my new partner? Good night. I knew it. I’m going to be with the most anal retentive, tightly wound, and uptight person in the school.
I’ve rarely been so happy to have been be so wrong.
No Sarcasm Detector Needed
I sarcastically cracked wise about something during our inservice days. I was relieved that Stephanie laughed at my joke. I would go on to find that her sarcasm was as razor sharp as mine.
Later in the week I made a reference to The Simpsons. She totally got it. That was the moment I knew Stephanie and I were going to get along like Bart and Milhouse.
I sneaked down to Stephanie’s classroom during our lunch time on April Fool’s Day. I had already rickrolled her in an email. Now was time for the icing on the cake that Astley built.
I got on her computer and found the cheesiest Rick Astley (Is that redundant?) image I could find. I set it as her desktop background. Then I turned on her SMART Board and activated the screen saver. The next person who touched any part of her computer would set off the surprise image for all to bask in.
I heard her entire class in an uproar of laughter a few minutes after we returned from lunch. She loved it! That’s the kind of partner everyone should have.
Gripes, Goofs, and Gifts
Teaching is an impossible job that teachers try to make possible every day. A good partner can make that better. We all need someone to be a goof with, gripe with, and make it through the general insanity of the work day.
Stephanie helped me through last year in many ways. She kept my perspective in check. She reminded me that being tough can be the best way to show compassion to a student. Most of all, she helped me to slow down, breathe, and try to enjoy each day for the gift it is.
To be fair, Stephanie’s no Rick Astley. But she’s still one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.