As some of you know, my job in in education. What some of you don’t know is how difficult it may be at times. I’m not even talking about the pay. Not that many teachers go into education ( I haven’t met one yet) because the pay is great. That’s a given and I’m not complaining about it. What is my pet peeve? All the other things that are just.plain.wrong. in education.
“What is it?” you’ll say. Hmmm, let me count the ways….oh, here’s one…
1) the freaking PAPERWORK – and not just students’ paper. I never understood why teachers complain about having tons of grading to do. The way I see it: if you assigned it and told students that you will be grading it, then it is your job to grade it. Period. End of story. You don’t want to grade it? Don’t assign it. Ahem… sorry. Now let me go back to #1. What I’m talking about is the paperwork that we get from ‘up above’ as I call it. The reports, the data, the reports about the data, the data on the reports, the written plans and strategies to change the bad reports, the reports on the new reports that (hopefully) have better results. NO. I’m not kidding. This is every teacher’s life. Then there’s the paperwork for your supervisor, the counselor, the parent contact update to the admin… aahhhh
2) The lack of responsibility, accountability, whatever you want to call it from, let’s call them “people”, outside of school, the people responsible for the children after they leave school. You know, nowadays, it seems that once a child steps foot in a school building, we, the teachers, become the parents, and then when they leave, we are still the parents. Now, I may be speaking from only my experience but I have been around a few years to see that this happens in different districts, different schools and it’s getting worse. Not everyone, of course, but this is a trend that is hurting the children. We, the teachers are unable to parent 20, 25, 30 kids sitting in front of us for 60 minutes a day. It’s impossible. We would love to be able to do it, but we can’t.
3) A child’s success is everyone’s doing but a child’s failure is always the teacher’s fault. I’ve sat in many meetings feeling attacked, accused, questioned and doubted. As a result, my parent communication log is already overflowing with copies of emails, notes and phone call logs with parents (It’s only Dec.2nd). This CYA attitude is the consequence of #2 because at some point, someone said that I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that, I said this, promised that…. the list goes on.
4) I realize that in today’s society in which everyone is out to get you, it’s easy to believe that teachers are out to get students, to catch them doing something wrong, that we really do not like teaching, we really, really do not like children and we do this only so that we can have summers off. Some believe that we actually get up in the morning, stare in the mirror and say “Mirror, mirror on the wall, which student’s parent will I call? I don’t know where this myth started but let me put it this way: no person who goes to college to be a teacher just so he/she can have summers off has lasted, and those who thought they can pull off 10 months of being a teacher to have a free summer probably quit a long time ago.
This may sound cheesy but it takes a special human being to be a teacher. I would almost say that teaching is a calling. One requires patience, and lots of it. Imagine being in a room of minimum 15 children, any age. That’s 15 different personalities, 15 different backgrounds, family histories, 15 different house situations, economic status, 15 children who probably can’t wait for you to stop talking so that they can get on with their social lives. It is UP TO YOU to hold their attention for 60 minutes, teach them, assess them, make sure they learn and come back wanting more the next day. Oh, and just so you know, all those fun, interesting, attention grabbing things you want to do with those kids you have to prep ahead of time (probably not on school time because you will be filling out paperwork, see #1). Now that’s just one day… now try it for a week. How many hours do you think it will take? Yeah, I thought so… many, many hours. And guess what? After you plan and plan and plan some more, chances are your administration may still not like it.
So why go into teaching? It’s definitely not for the two months off ( most districts don’t pay during the summer). It’s because we love what we do, regardless of how much time it takes, how much of our own money we spend, and how little appreciation we see. We love the kids. We love it when their eyes light up because they learned something new. We love the ‘aha’ moments and the twinkle in the eyes of those who finally got it. Most often, that’s our only reward. After all, we’re here for the kids and that’s enough to keep us going.
If you’d like, please check out the link from Reader’s Digest, 13+ Things Your Child’s Teacher Won’t Tell You.