Haunted houses, scary movies, chainsaw-wielding serial killers… these are the things of nightmares, right? Once upon a time, maybe that was true. Then I became a teacher.
You see, it wasn’t until I took a field trip to a haunted house last weekend that I realized that in order to scare me, you’re going to have to do a lot more than jump out of a dark closet with a machete. I didn’t flinch when a chainsaw was inches from my face or a clown maniacally laughed as I walked past. My students think I’m “the baddest” because I couldn’t be scared… little do they know that I do in fact get scared on a regular basis, just not by the normal “spooky” stuff.
So, how can you scare a teacher?
- Cough… or worse: sneeze. With one cough or sneeze in my high school classroom, I’m terrified. Why? Because rarely is it followed with hand sanitizer and oftentimes, it’s out into the open to share the germs with the rest of the class.
- Bring a 44oz styrofoam cup of Mt. Dew into my classroom. It will spill, you will try to clean it up, you will leave a sticky mess spread around the floor that my shoes will stick to for days.
- Miss two weeks of school before the end of the semester. I know you aren’t doing the work while you’re at home. I also know you’re going to turn it in the same day the semester ends leaving me with hours of grading late work.
- Two words: parent email. Even worse? A parent email on a Sunday night.
- Speaking of Sunday nights… SUNDAY NIGHTS. Ever heard of the Sunday Scaries? Yeah, they’re real.
- Flash Drives. Once upon a time, they were just that. A tiny little device that stored information. Now? They are suspiciously similar to a vape.
- Scented lotion or perfume. See the previous fear.
But probably worse than all of those fears above is the fear of failure. Because you see, as a teacher, I spend many nights tossing and turning with the crippling fear that I am failing my students. Did I greet every single student today? Did they understand that connection between “Of Mice and Men” and the real world? Do they know that symbol in Edgar Allan Poe’s story as a symbol? Can they identify parallel structure in a sentence? And more importantly:
Do they know just how much I want them to succeed? Do they know how much I love standing in front of them each and every day? Do they know how special they are?
Rationally, I know they know. I know they know that every time I bust out into song while we’re working on an assignment it’s my own special way of saying “I love having fun with you”. I know they know that when I comment “holy run-on sentence, Batman” what I mean is “I know you are capable of greatness!” I know they appreciate the little slips of paper I slide them reminding them just how awesome they are.
But trust me when I say, I’m scared every single day that I’m not doing enough.
And sneezes. I’m definitely terrified of sneezes.