In a broader sense, though, being a teacher brings with it this bizarre confluence of extreme intimacy and, paradoxically, extreme fleetingness. Let me explain.
With this gig, we teach students for five months and then we change 'em up. Each semester is about 88 days long, and each period is about 75 minutes long, give-or-take, which adds up to a lot of time spent together (just over 100 hours, by my calculation).
Have you spent a hundred hours in a room with someone? Even if it's in a group of 30 or so, and even if you're going to be moving around and doing stuff and they're doing stuff and it's a little crazy sometimes, you (hopefully) interact with each kid a little bit every day, almost 90 times. Sometimes it's a hello, sometimes it's a oh my god stop driving me up the wall, sometimes it's a 15-minute conversation describing why their family came to Canada. You cover a lot of ground in five months.
In addition, if you work with kids in extracurriculars such as teams, clubs, tutoring and the like, you get to know them on a totally different level. Plus, they might open up to you in ways that they wouldn't if they were in a classroom; I've coached kids I taught at the same time before, and it really is a different dynamic.
Finally, of course, one's colleagues. It's a weird dichotomy; we have co-workers and colleagues and brothers-in-arms, but in the end, it's just you, alone, in a classroom with the kids. But, these are people you get to know, either superficially or, in my own personal experience, extremely well (for the most part); these are people you're with through babies, weddings, divorces, deaths, house purchases, and everything in between.
But, of course...
- the semester ends with exams, and you bring in a new group of kids
- the season ends, usually with a defeat, and next year's team will be different
- colleagues come and go, move around, retire, and whatnot
...hold on, it'll come to me.
...nope. Got nothin'. Jenny? Siyami? LaFawnduh? Baaaaaah. Something like that.
It's an interesting gig in terms of meeting new people, that's for sure. Every walk of humanity comes in and sits down. I heard an old colleague say once, "Some people say that teachers aren't in the real world, but I get more of the 'real world' walking through my door in one day than the average person experiences in a year." I think he was on to something.
But, alas, they come in, and they go. You might see them again, but who knows? It's a small world, they say -- but I wouldn't want to paint it.