I speak 3 languages. English, Spanish and School. I am a Trilingual educator.
“Talking School” is a teacher phenomenon. Teacher-ese if you will. Do not underestimate the tiny crevices into which school talk can leak.
I have talked school floating in the pool. (I do not like it, Sam I am!) On a beach in Jamaica. On top of a pile of snow. At weddings. With strangers. On airplanes. At Bachelorette Parties. At the doctor’s office. At the car wash. With family. With any living being with ears (and the occasional inanimate object).
You may think you’re safe until the beautiful red of a setting sun reminds you of the day your “tough kid” got all Green Traffic lights until the very last section where you had to color it in red due to a certain throwing incident. Clearly, I need to text my friend about this memory and lament how I had only used 67 strategies with her that day when I could have used 70. Nuts! I missed the sunset.
You’re drifting off to sleep camping and feel a weed by your feet in your tent. All of a sudden you remember the failed seed growing experiment in your classroom because you forgot to water them over the weekend. So you ask the person next to you, “Am I the worst human being in this world?”
Teachers have this uncanny ability to bring up work in the most random of situations.
“School talk” forms immediate and comfortable bonds with other educators who genuinely and totally understand. If you are engaging in School Talk with someone who is not a teacher, for example, your spouse, cousin or 7 year old you are babysitting, you might lose them when you start name dropping Marzano and Danielson like they are old friends.
This school year, I am setting some goals for outside of work: not so much school talk.
Now, before I explain why I want to have less “school talk” this year, let me first define school talk as conversations about work in social settings that have no relation to school.
I am not proposing we stop collaborating, discussing ideas or brainstorming solutions to problems as teams of teachers. Obviously, during the school day, school talk IS my life.
I breathe lesson objectives (and pencil sharpener dust).
I drone on about schedule changes.
I ask for advice on specific students.
I share stories with colleagues.
I email my team.
There is no end to school talk. And that’s how it should be.
Just like workers at Papa John’s talk about pizza making and delivery routes.
Like Librarians talk about missing books and check-out times.
Like Starbuck’s barista’s discuss how they are angels sent from the Lord above who deserve eternal rewards for their contributions to society, and specifically teachers.
During the work day, I am devoted to my job. Heart and soul (except for Monday mornings…I will admit that sometimes my heart just isn’t in it then. Okay and Friday afternoons and days before break.)
But when I close up shop and walk out of room 15 this year, I need to remember that a whole other life awaits me outside those walls. I forget that sometimes. But I CAN leave school stuff at school. Here are 4 quick reasons why I am trying to do that this year
- It tends to turn negative
I LOVE my job. More than I feel like a job should be loved. However, get me chatting with a couple of teacher friends at the beach and even with the best of intentions, the conversations can turn south quickly. I don’t want to be a part, or the cause, of negative talk or gossip that involves colleagues, policies or things happening in my place of work. The less “outside” teacher talk, the less chance I will put my foot in my mouth and say something I shouldn’t say.
2. It’s annoying to those who don’t speak the language
A normal amount of talking about jobs is good and healthy. We spend lots of time at our work and I think if you are married to a teacher or love a teacher, it is important to hear a bit about what happens in the classroom. Sharing highs and lows of the day, funny moments and frustrations is wonderful and wildly entertaining for others.
However, when the conversations become obsessive or to the people you are talking to, you might start losing the crowd. My dad, who works at the Post Office, loves to hear about the happenings of my classroom, however if I go on a rant about the new state requirements and the online educator system glitches, and how I am exhausted of tracking data on a particular student’s behavior, I might hear some deep breathing and the occasional snore. My dad can sleep anywhere.
3. We have other things going on
Hey. My life is so exciting. I have SO many awesome things going on to talk about. Okay, a little bit of sarcasm, but for real, there is more to me than being a teacher.
I can talk about being a Christian, a friend, a daughter, a writer, or even talk to you about my love of snack food and my favorite kinds. My teacher friends have families and pools (amen amen) and health issues and famous people sightings and cool things happening. Maybe I will learn some new things about coworkers this year if I talk to them about those things at the Christmas party instead.
If teaching defines me as a human, if the ups and downs of my classroom dictate my persona, then I advise everyone to run far away from me any week of a full moon, or the week before and after Halloween. Those kids be crazy.
It is normal to celebrate successes and lament tough days with others, but there should be a healthy balance, and I am learning that more every year: that I can let things go.
4. You need a break
You just need a break. You’re tired. Between the 7 hour school days, 8 extra hours of meetings, before and after school prep, writing sub plans and extra commitments like conferences, don’t you think you talk school and think school and breathe school enough?
Don’t get me wrong. As the new school year is just days away, I truly cannot wait to get back into the classroom and “talk school” until I am blue in the face at work. I am only saying that I want to make a more conscious effort this year to not lose the other areas of my life that tend to get buried between the months of September-June. Outside of the freshly cleaned hallways and newly waxed floors, lives a 25 year old with more knowledge about frozen yogurt than anyone I have ever met. I need that side of me to make more of an appearance this school year.