Hello. Am I the only one who feels like a total failure of a teacher right now? I’m running on approximately zero motivation, which means today I:
- Was late to a last-minute meeting because in the two hours I’d already been at school it never even crossed my mind to check my email. Oops.
- Allowed about 20 noneducational tangents to take place while I was teaching.
- Responded to a fellow teacher’s invitation to write an education travel grant for us with, “Sure! Can I go to the moon by myself forever?”
In bleak times like these at the tail end of EDOFMA (the Eternal Darkness of February, March, and April), it’s important to remember the really great things that teaching has done for me. The relationships with my students, of course. The knowledge that I have a meaningful impact on the future. And the fact that every educator I know has these actual teaching superpowers:
1. A Bat-like Sense of Hearing
The old cliché is so true. I HEAR EVERYTHING. And I don’t mean being able to hear the kid with a naturally loud voice over everyone else; I mean being able to hear a student mutter something under their breath on the opposite side of the room during a fire drill. It is uncanny.
2. The Most Powerful Inner Clock Known to Humankind
When 40 hours of our week are lived out according to a strict bell schedule, it’s only normal for teachers to develop a superhuman understanding of time. Fellow teachers, here’s a challenge for you: Start a timer, then leave it and go do something in under an hour (fold laundry, give the dog a bath, eat two servings of Pop-Tarts, whatever). Estimate how long it took you, then check your timer. I’ll bet you weren’t more than a couple of minutes off in your estimation. I’ve only been teaching for five years, but the accuracy of my internal timer totally freaks me out on a regular basis.
3. Titanium Bladders
I guess this is more of a super fact than it is a superpower, but the point I’m trying to make is that the bladders of teachers are not involuntary muscles, like they are for other people.* Teachers tell their bladders what to do, and sometimes that message is, “Sorry, buddy. You’ve got another hour and a half until my conference period, so you’re just going to have to hold it.”
*Can’t be sure, but I estimate that 100 percent of urologists disagree with me.
4. Bionic Lie-Detection Sensors
I remember having this conversation with a veteran teacher during after-school duty my first year:
“I can’t believe it,” I said. “Five of my students had distant relatives pass away last night. What are the odds of that?”
The veteran teacher gave me a small smile. “Let me guess,” she said. “You had a project due today?”
My mouth dropped open, both from realizing how easily I’d been duped and how effortlessly she’d detected it.
(Note: With great lie-detecting power comes great responsibility. Being able to smell deception from a mile away doesn’t mean you should take every opportunity to call kids on it—sometimes it’s a good opportunity to reflect on your teaching, and other times, even the best lie detectors can be wrong.)
5. Superhuman Fearlessness
Teachers fear nothing. Okay, maybe not nothing. Grading deadlines are always terrifying, as well as the idea of Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday. But other than that, there is very little that can shake a teacher.
We give improv performances for 40 hours a week for the world’s toughest critics. We get sassed. Kids throw crayons at our heads. We’ve heard every insult known to man. Kids barf in our hands. Our hands!
And yet every day, three-and-a-half million of us march up to the front lines—fearlessness or insanity, I wonder sometimes—and get the job done.
We’d love to hear—what teaching superpowers would you add to the list? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.
Love, Teach teaches English at a Title I middle school and writes about it at http://www.loveteachblog.com. In addition to teaching, she enjoys polar bears, recipes that feature caramelized onions, and Downton Abbey (apart from that one Sybil episode).