If you work with kids, you’ve notice that you aren’t quite yourself when you’re with them. It’s almost like you become the educational cartoon version of yourself. It’s weird and you know it. Personally, I went from being a substitute teacher to working in a museum where we regularly do school programming. Over the years, I’ve realized what weird ticks I’ve picked up from working with children and trying to educate them. These ticks probably aren’t just what I do so share in the comments how you change for work!
Airline Attendant Voice
“All right boys and girls, welcome! Today we’ll be heading up three flights of stairs so please keep to one side and keep our voices off. Thank you and I hope you enjoy today’s program!” Just imagine that being said minimum of five days a week. Now imagine with the hand gestures and voice three octaves higher than normal. That lady, I don’t know who she is. She does a great job getting the kids to follow directions. Sometimes. If you work with kids, you know that you develop a different voice that you can turn on and off as needed when you’re teaching. You can even recognize that it isn’t your voice. It’s a weird habit to pick up but you almost have to. Somehow it helps to keep the kids focused. At least when you’re giving initial instructions that may be crucial.
Think of the look that your mom used to give you when you messed up as a kid. You know the one. Or if you have that one grandmother who was either Italian or Eastern European. You know exactly which look I’m talking about. You retrain that look and BAM. That’s your working with kids and they won’t shut up look. This is a must have in your educator tool kit because this look can do everything. All it takes is making eye contact with the right kids and then the whispers start and then silence falls. It’s a little creepy how well The Look works.
We all know that this never works. Ever. There has never been a time where saying “I’ll wait” to a group of talking or badly behaved kids worked. We all say it though. At least once a week. At least. Yet if you work with kids this phrase enters your vocabulary as a last ditch effort to get the kiddos to shut up. Never works though. The Look works better. Usually.
Mindful of What You Wear
I work in a small city that is full of all sorts of different businesses. Because of that, you see a whole wide range of what people wear to work. Generally business casual is how the majority of people go. You get some nice jewelry added on to make an outfit look a little nicer and you’re all set. When you work with kids, you never know what they’re gonna grab. A long necklace can be turned into a toy or weapon. Your skirt can get pulled up. Your hair gets pulled. Every outfit has a risk so you have to pick wisely what you wear each day. Things to note:
- Beware of flashy or too interesting jewelry. You might get compliments or you might get yanked on.
- Pockets are a must. Always find outfits with pockets
- Get a watch. If you use your phone to keep time, it will become the focal point for some kid.
Being a teacher, museum educator, tour guide, substitute teacher, camp counselor, paraprofessional, and anyone else who works with kids is hard. It can be a thankless job most of the time. So, to my fellow educators, thank you for all that you do!
Have you adopted any of this quirks at work? Are you not an educator but still have some weird work place habits that have become normal to you? Share in the comments!