01/15/2014 12:11 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT

10 Things Teacher's College Never Prepared Me For

Having been held hostage by the whims of the cutest sort of five-year-old juvenile delinquents and lived to tell the tale, I have given some thought to the unlimited number of things I was NOT taught in teacher training, so as to prepare me for these uncertain days in which I find myself now: as a real-LIVE teacher.

1. I was never given any formal training on what to do in the situation...whereby one might be locked outside one's classroom to the delight of one's five-year old students -- whose bright minds concocted the idea of closing the door, turning out the lights and then hiding under and inside various areas of their classroom, all as part of a practical joke played on their teacher prior to her return from her prep period. And the former, these cute little delinquents also decided to keep said teacher in suspense while they continued their delightful, little game while she pounded on the door repeatedly- all while listening to them scamper about with glee on the other side of the door.

To be sure, this teacher was given absolutely no training on this possibility in any of her B.Ed. courses nor did it EVER come up in any discussion she might have had with her advisors, teacher mentors (nor were there any articles or the like written about such phenomena in any of the engaging textbooks she might have had the privilege of reading. An apparent lack in the literature, perhaps?)

2. I had no idea the copious amounts of visible nasal mucus (snot) one would encounter while on the job, not did I realize that parallel lines of the same would be a permanent feature on the elementary child's facial features causing me to re-think how students structure self-portraits so as to accommodate for such. I also didn't realize that grass was considered a part of the body. Nor did I know that some children visualize themselves as a piece of toast, an angry bird, and a mouse (in no order of importance of priority).

3. No one told me how often I would use the laminator.

4. I really had no idea that someone as un-crafty as myself would become an expert on all things feathery, sparkly, glittery, pom-pom-y, tissue-y, play-doh-y or in general: that I might be able to make something from nothing, in a matter of speaking. Literally, I have made crafts from someone's garbage.

5. I had no idea that I would spend my meal times balancing a yogurt/banana in one hand while applying cold compresses wrapped in Kleenex with the other to children's faces who decided to do face-plants on their way out the door for recess. No one told me about that one.

6. I wasn't prepared for what children would confide in me. Things like what their parents do for pastimes (shoot buffalo), what their parents wear to bed (nothing) to some very tall tales about houses that (never) burned down and the rescue plans that (never) ensued.

7. I had no idea how many hours a kindergarten teacher would spend at school after hours. I knew that there was some preparation involved. But no one quite prepared me for the days/nights that I would spend inside an empty school where toilets flush spontaneously while the rest of the sane teaching-world spent their time after-hours preparing from home. Apart from adding a room onto my house full of markers, construction paper, paint, chart paper, a photocopier and a laminator, it looks like this kindergarten teacher will continue to haunt the school hallways "as long as she so shall teach."

8. There use to be a time where I would cringe if I came in contact with bodily fluids, crumby bits of food, crud, mud, goo, grease, glue, dirt or dust bunnies. Now, I realize there are too few hours in the day to sweat the small stuff. And that's why I have baby wipes on my list of classroom supplies.

9. I never realized that patience was something you could grow. I always use to think you were either born with it -- or you were not. I was not born with it, for the record. But I am growing it in fast supply. Baby, I wasn't born this way...but I am still hanging in there anyway.

10. I didn't know back in those heady days of teacher prep that you could actually LOVE your students. I never knew that love was even part of the equation. I just thought it was about teaching. About content. About learning stuff. About knowledge. But what the B.Ed. program never taught me was that 'my kids' are not just the ones born to me -- they're also the ones I hold close when they're tired. The ones I help when they're hurt. The ones I laugh with when they're being funny. And the ones I learn alongside- because we're all in this together. And when those kiddos say they love you they really mean it. And so do I.

The B.Ed program taught me some pretty great things, but it certainly didn't get me ready for all the important stuff. The stuff that really matters. And that stuff of teaching that I'm talking about here: it's the reality of the classroom. It's what they didn't teach me about in teacher training that is really the heart and soul of teaching. It's what teaching is all about.

And you don't learn about it, you've got to live it to understand it.


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