By day I teach. I am a para educator in a classroom of children who have learning disabilities, meaning they are bright, lovely people who happen to learn differently from the rest of us. It is a job that I enjoy, but it can be taxing, mentally and emotionally.
Yesterday was one of those days where my mind had been all kinds of places; where I felt I had traveled all over the world without leaving the building. I was relieved when 3:30 came.
Enter the custodian's cart. In order to supplement my teaching wages, I have signed on to substitute when one of our custodian's is gone. I was glad to begin a new shift in my day and have some quiet time, letting my body take over from the exercise of my mind.
I am responsible for cleaning 7 classrooms as well as the Band room and Library: sweeping, cleaning countertops, dry erase boards, mopping and emptying trash. It was a task that started out energetically with whistling and speed.....that quickly dissipated into quiet monotony.
It's hard work.
We get so accustomed to our clean school and classrooms that sometimes we forget what it takes to get it there. Since we are a small school in a small town, we all know one another. A teacher is no better than a custodian and our paths cross from simple acknowledgement to genuine friendship. One of my dearest friends here is a custodian. She left our classroom this year where she also worked as a para....and I miss her terribly. She is no less of who she is because she cleans rooms instead of teaching children. And neither am I, now that I do both.
Before you leave things scattered on the floor, put gum or something ugly in the trashcan, think of the person who has to clean it up. It's truly eye-opening, viewing the world from a different perspective.
It's rare that we get the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone else. I plan on learning a lot in this journey.