Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I’ve Learned – Educators Share How They’ve Been Schooled at School

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By Cindy Long

Educators may spend their careers preparing lessons, but often the most memorable are those they learn themselves.  With that in mind, neatoday.org asked school staff –  everyone from classroom teachers and bus drivers to guidance counselors and school nurses – to share the everyday lessons they’ve picked up along the way in a new series called “What I’ve Learned.”

What I’ve Learned as a School Custodian

Dave Arnold has been a custodian and maintenance man at Brownstown Elementary school in Brownstown, Illinois, for 30 years. These are the lessons he’s learned on the job.

Dave Arnold greets a student.

I’ve learned that it takes a lot more work to keep a school clean and running each day than people may think. Not a lot of people realize how many hours are spent stripping, waxing, buffing, shampooing and vacuuming.  They don’t know what it takes to maintain heating and cooling systems so everybody is comfortable, or how big the mountains of trash a school full of busy children produce in a day. 

I’ve learned that teachers work very long hours. Most of them are still in their classrooms after I’ve put in my eight hours each day, and many others take evening college courses after school. I also know they work 12 months a year because I see them when I’m cleaning the building over the summer.

I’ve learned that children are far more impressionable than I ever thought. I never considered how closely children were watching and learning from me until a student said he wanted to become a maintenance man because, “Dave knows everything.” Another student told his mother I could fix the family VCR because, “Dave can fix anything.”

I’ve learned that a child can make almost anything disappear in the strangest places, like the orange found lodged in a toilet drain or the dozens of milk straws stuffed into a kindergarten classroom sink.

I’ve learned that there’s even more teamwork in a school system than on a basketball court, and each and every school employee is an integral part of that team. We all have individual talents that help shape a school and educate a child.

What have you learned on the job? Send an email to clong@nea.org with your job title, the name of your school, and the five top lessons you’ve learned in your position in public education.

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