Saturday, October 1, 2011

No One REALLY Understands

I have heard the same comment from many people for as long as I have been teaching. If I try to make the case for having a difficult job, I often hear, "Well, you get summers off, and two weeks at Christmas and a week at Thanksgiving..." blah, blah, blah!

Yes, I do get those vacations.

Yes, I do need those vacations.

For those of you who have ever thought, "Well, he/she is JUST a teacher." you may want to be ready for your eyes to be opened.

I did not even realize that there was a need for this kind of explanation until I was talking to my dad the other day and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was working on lesson plans. Let me interject here by saying that my dad is huge supporter of GOOD education. He has yet to find a state that does it to his liking, but I am certain that when he does, he will let me know.

Anyway, I said I was working on lesson plans and he said, "Isn't every year the same? Can't you use the same lesson plans you made 15 years ago and just change the dates?"

HOLY COW! I think I may understand why people view teaching as "just teaching." Yes, there are teachers who probably do use the same lesson plans year after year. And those are the very same teachers who give the teaching profession a bad name.

Times change, people. That is why we do not have one room school houses led by someone similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder. But have you ever stopped to think that she, and other teachers during her time, had to teach in one room to kids at differing ages, levels and abilities? Do you have any idea how hard and time consuming that is?

Let me give you just a brief glimpse into the life of a teacher. We never stop looking for ideas, projects, or opportunities that will make learning come to life for our kids. We don't just throw skill and drill papers at them all day long and call it teaching. We engage them in their learning, hoping the real life aspect will help them retain the information that our government says our kids should be learning. Because who is to argue with the government when they say it is perfectly acceptable to teach 8 year olds all about Greece, the first democracy, the first government and then compare and contrast the architecture of ancient Greece to buildings in the USA?

What? You didn't learn that at age 8?

Teaching is one of the only professions where you have to be up, moving around, and talking or leading discussions all day long. There are not hours sitting behind a desk preparing paperwork for an upcoming meeting. If you have a meeting, which most afternoons teachers do, the paperwork is usually prepared at home the night (or nights) before.

There are no off campus lunches, no hour and half meeting friends during lunch unless you consider eating in a cafeteria with 250 elementary school kids (in my case, anyway), meeting friends. You are on the clock all the time.

Some people may think that there is a lot of down time in a school...lots of planning time, lots of time to socialize. Well, there are days I don't even see some members of my grade level team until lunch and some days I don't see coworkers AT ALL! It is a high stress, high-stakes job that gets little to no respect.

We are certainly not paid for the time we put into it...and I know everyone else feels that they are not paid what they are worth so I am just going to leave it at that.

I say all of this for you, the reader, to try to understand all that a teacher does when you get frustrated with something that happens in your child's classroom. 20 kids, lots of emotion, lots of curriculum to cover and mistakes are made. We all, for the most part, have every child's best interest at heart. We want our kids to succeed. We want them to thrive. We worry about it after we leave the school building.

Less than 45% of all teachers are male, and that means that many, many wives and moms leave the classrooms all over the world to head home and do the next most difficult job in the world... take care of a home and children. And for those of you who are moms who mind is blown by your ability to combine the two and keep your sanity.

So, thank a teacher. Be kind to a teacher. Offer to help a teacher if you have some spare time. And last but not not give your kids' teacher anything with an apple on it...please. :)

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  1. But you get summers off!! LOL - JUST KIDDING!!! ;) My mom was an art teacher for years and years, and before that she taught pre-k and K. The woman didn't even have time to pee during the day and she was ALWAYS lesson planning and preparing AND spending way too much time in her classroom before and after school hours. I think teaching is a job that is definitely done out of love for the profession and especially the kiddos.

  2. Absolutely love this post.

    Last year during Teacher Appreciation Week I was in Target and overheard a mom talking with her daughter about what to get their teacher. I turned and gave my opinion, "Just don't give her anything with an apple on it. She may just love a letter from you or your daughter expressing how much her time means to you. She'll get LOTS of chocolate and while she likes it, she would probably just love a 'thank you'."

  3. Amen, sister! I have only taught bible studies once a week, but I know how much time and prep goes into that. I can't imagine every day, all day. I couldn't do it, and that is probably why I don't. :) May God bless all the teachers who work for the good of the kids and not their measly paychecks.