Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Working at a High School.

In the four years since graduating college, I’ve worked at an afterschool center/elementary school, a university, and two different high schools (aaand Starbucks for three months). The upside to this is that I’ve had a wide variety of work place experiences and job descriptions. Variety is the spice of life and all that. Most importantly, I’ve learned some things about myself and my job preferences. Things like:

-          I need sunshine in my workplace.
-          I can’t be on a computer all day. Human interaction is a must.
-          I need my job to challenge me, but also allow for plenty of laughter and downtime.
-          I need to work somewhere that my values are honored and upheld.
-          I absolutely love working at a high school.  LOVE.

When I was applying to my first job at a high school two years ago, they asked me if I liked working with teenagers. The truth was: I wasn’t sure. My only experience with high schoolers was being one and having younger siblings (who currently 16- and 18-years-old).  Sometimes teenage girls can be rather…intense (see also: dramatic, moody, and stompy-offish). In course of answering the question about working teenagers, though, I realized that what I loved most about teenagers was, in fact, this intensity. When they’re happy, they’re REALLY happy – shrieking, laughing, singing, and loud. When they’re upset, they’re REALLY upset – crying, yelling, and slamming doors. They are absolutely, unabashedly passionate in everything they do. They don’t hold back. They are full of life.

That vibrancy absolutely attracts me to working with teenagers. It can be tiring, but it’s also never, ever boring. There is so much joy and laughter in my office that I cannot fathom working in some quiet cubicle.

Plus, they’re just plain fun and silly.

They make up songs about me (with things like "She has the spirit Aslan" and "She likes to eat tofu and Indian noodles with her poodle.”)

They introduced me to the addiction that is Rebecca Black.

They have honest and open conversations about everything in life – from their fears about college to their political opinions to their relationships. We close ourselves off as adults, not openly discussing these things as readily.

They celebrated Justin Beiber’s birthday with a party.

They constantly try to friend me on Facebook, despite the school’s (and my own) policy of waiting until they graduate.

They call me “Ash” or “Miss Ashley.”

The many, many offers to babysit. For free. One even told me she’d pay me to babysit. Just lovely.

They tell me about their addiction to Extreme Couponing and that they want to start a 'Couponing Club' where we'd all sit around cutting out coupons. “We have to train ourselves. We need to be disciplined about this. We have to be extreme!”

They know the words to Spice Girls’ songs and can recite lines from 10 Things I Hate About You. Aka: I don’t feel old when they’re into the things I was in high school. (My favorite ever in the world is when they are jealous that I’ve been to three *Nsync concerts. Ha! See? I am cool! I am hip! I am  also so old that these kids weren’t even in elementary school when *Nsync was together!) (Also, *Nsync is not a recognized dictionary word. Psh.)

They make me feel interesting. They ask me about college, living overseas, having a baby, cloth diapers, vegetarianism, marriage, and my family.

They say things like, “My boyfriend is really interested in water birth. He wants me to have our kids without pain medication.” I’m sorry, what? 1) Your boyfriend is thinking about birth? and 2) ‘Your’ kids? You guys are 17!

It’s been a good (albeit hard for some really sad, tragic reasons) week at school, and I’m just buzzing from the happiness that comes with enjoying your day job (and the happiness that comes from having to be at said day job only three days a week).

I don’t say this enough: I am so, so lucky to have both a part-time day job and a part-time creative job that I adore. Not to mention being a full-time mama to the sweetest baby on this planet.

I’m curious: what do you do? Do you love your job? If not, what makes you stay there?
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