While Christmas shopping in orange sweatpants and a Simpons t-shirt, I had 4 kids recognize me and say "Hi Mr. Hand." My fiancee told me I'm not allowed to go out in public dressed like that anymore. It still strikes me as funny how often kids say hello to me by name (and of course admonishes me in my role as public authority figure, a model of dignity and respect, cool under fire and all that--must... take... seriously...). [/Kirk mode off]
Kids ask me interesting and unexpected questions sometimes. Recent favorite: "Mr Hand do you know much about electronics? ... Were you on the TV show Mythbusters?"
Two different times a middle schooler has asked if I was Mexican (... "then what are you?" was the next question in the first case). Thought I was as balding-anglo as one can look but I have a beard, which complicates things I guess.
Sometimes I get really cool teaching situations like a music class or a computer lab, but even in such ideal enviroments its disappointed to see how many kids just don't seem to care about the opportunity. Watching the theatrics of kids "going crazy" acting rowdy is disruptive to my work, but less depressing than the apathy and cold distance.
Recently been pulling a good deal of "overtime" which I'm very happy about (doing extra classes during a prep period)--it's interesting doing one-period "tours" of a subject, often elective, and meeting more students. I can tell why it counts of overtime and why teachers are by the rules allowed to have that prep period, not just because there's so much to do but because you need a break from the babysitting duties, which can take a lot out of you!
When I have a chance (most of high school jobs involves reading role and confiscating tech) I leaf through the current teacher's edition of the textbook, occasionally looking over and reiterating instructions about what I don't want to see/hear. It's good experience reading this stuff at the same time that I'm having all kinds of behavioral and even teaching situations going on around me.
Working my holidy extra job to make ends meet at a bookseller, I have been very amused to see what kinds of books people are buying for gifts and school, just as it has been interesting to scan the shelves in different teachers rooms and school libraries. I like the book job not because there are opportunities for reading (there aren't) but it's kinda fun just to be exposed to several titles while getting paid--gaining the experience of seeing what's out there, soaking up an intuitive sense of what's being put in front of people as reading options.
I have very much enjoyed the elementary school jobs I've done. The kids are much nicer and more enthusiastic about learning (when they can settle down) than older kids and are rarely nasty or disrespectful. I especially like 4th graders--abstract thought is beginning to become available but before the full discovery of the complications of "coolness." Unfortunately despite my amusement and instruction in these jobs they are more labor-intensive and anxiety-producing, so I will probably take more high school and middle school jobs. I'm also going to be more selective of which jobs I take--now that I have a second flexible job I can focus on the more lucrative and higher-quality teaching opportunities. Of course, any job is really a toss-up, but I've learned enough at this point to spare myself those jobs that are more likely to be "in the trenches" type experiences, at least until I'm more experienced, disciplined, unflappable.