I love sharing bits of my life with you, and so this week I thought that it would be neat to talk to you about my life outside of teaching, and how it all somehow finds its way back into my teaching life!
It's strange to think that three short months ago I was spending my weekends working at a local restaurant as a server. If you had asked me then where I would be on June 10th, 2020, I would have never been able to predict where I am now. Shoutout to all the other teacher servers - late nights and early mornings forever!
With that being said, I worked there for going on four years and as much as I miss my colleagues I am thrilled to have my weekends back. For some context, I have been working weekends since I was 16! Given the time to reflect I have realized that becoming a server actually made me a better teacher in more ways than one - so, I thought that I would share them with you!
BECOMING A MULTITASKING MASTER
May I bring you some ketchup? A refill on your coffee? A pencil? A note for the office because your stomach hurts and you need to call home? Yes I know how to say dog in French, but before you ask me did you try and find it in the dictionary?
It's so funny to me how adults are VERY MUCH like our students when it comes to asking questions. There is never just one questions, it's usually four or five all at the same time! I learned a lot about how not to panic when ten people are each asking you for something different while working at the restaurant, and it definitely a transferrable skill when it comes to teaching! It's good practise for us to be badgered with questions and requests all at once, because you find creative ways of keeping track of answers and needs. Some people write it down, other develop a capacity in their brain to be able to remember all of the things at once. For me, it's a combination of both. I prioritize the different requests in order of importance. I also always write down the things that I KNOW I will forget so that I can come back to them after. Finding a system that works for you is crucial, but once you figure it out you will feel like the Multitask Master!
The title of this section sounds daunting, but what I am actually referring to is the ability to think on your feet when something goes wrong. As a teacher, you know that there are often times where your lesson plan DOES NOT go to plan, and so through being a server I've really learned about the importance of letting go of the things that you cannot control. When you work in a high-pressure environment, it can sometimes be really difficult to not have full control. As a VIRGO, this drives me crazy. But the restaurant life taught me that I need to accept the fact that I am not ever going to be able to control everything, and it really changed the game for me in the classroom. This is also a really meaningful life lesson that as soon as you can let go of the things that hold you back, you're going to start flying forward.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHERS (ESPECIALLY THE ANGRY PEOPLE)
I think that my socialization skills improved drastically after becoming a server. I was never a shy person, but I usually liked to keep to myself. That is not an option when you work at a restaurant, and certainly not when working at a school. I have learned so much because every time I was sat a new table, I had to start from the beginning to get to know people. Asking questions, making conversation, and knowing how to read different social cues has been a major asset for teaching!
On another note, angry customers were the bane of my existence. Not because they were mean (that's a given), but also because as a person who really values the happiness of others I really struggle and feel guilty when something terrible happens to another person, even when it is out of my control. I can confirm that with both angry customer and angry parents, the best approach is always one with empathy. Most people who are irate are just wanting to be heard. So when they are losing their minds, to deescalate the situation the best thing to do it listen. Listen, nod, and empathize. It goes a long way, both with customers and with parents. Allowing them the opportunity to air their grievances does wonders compared to trying to argue with them. And most of the time they aren't even upset with you, there's usually an underlying issues. THAT BEING SAID, if anyone speaks to you rudely, calls your names or is belittling you, that is NOT acceptable and you best bet is to walk away and get someone to help you out (a manager, a principal, etc.). I feel like such a hypocrite typing this right now, but don't let their comments make you questions your worth as a teacher or as a human being. This is something that a lot of people I know struggle with INCLUDING MYSELF, but keep on putting in the hard work and practising your positive affirmations for this one. We will get there!
VALUE OF HARD WORK
Lastly, as mentioned in the intro, late night and early mornings forever! Working in a restaurant is tiring. I can't even imagine how exhausted the kitchen staff is, or the managers who are always there way later than we are. It makes me think of the care takers, the principals, the after-school workers and everyone else that puts in the time when we leave. It's hard work, and I have so much respect for them. I also am so grateful for the friendships that I made with my colleagues. There is nothing quite like a work BFF to keep you sane and to lean on during really tough times.
I guess the whole point of all of this is that your past experiences really help to shape who you become as an educator, as long as you are willing to open your eyes to them. We learn so much and I think it is so important to take the time and a moment to reflect on how you've changed for the better.