Sunday, July 24, 2016
Another Post About Teachers
It seems that over the summer, public vitriol towards teachers is at an all-time high. Personally I feel this is fueled by a combination of our media and internet trolls. One has to wonder why they hate education so much, after all you don’t see the public picking on any other profession as much, with the exception of politicians. (But at least politicians can hold rallies and tons of people come out to support them!) And I know that part of me shouldn’t waste time on trying to figure this out. I should have a thicker skin, or at the very least take the advice I dole out to my students; “Don’t worry about what other people are saying!” But the truth of the matter is that it’s hard to do that. So instead of getting angry I thought of reasons why people would hate teachers so much.
1. They were taught by a real life Dolores Umbridge.
Even J.K. Rowling herself has said that this character was based on someone she knew. Isn’t it feasible that there are Dolores Umbridges everywhere using their position in the classroom as one to inflict their ideology? Could everyone out there have horrific school memories and hate their former teachers? Just as Harry Potter probably grew up to hate kittens, (who wouldn't after an Umbridge punishment! And if that means nothing to you, do yourself a favor and go read the book!) people who have bad experiences in school would most likely scoff at teachers. So I really shouldn't be mad at these people, they just need a hug.
2. They don’t understand that students are not a product.
We can’t just pack up students and ship them to college!
This actually makes a little sense. People in our society are so product driven, so results driven, that when teachers say that they are working when there aren’t students in front of them, some people don’t believe it! Yes it is true…over the summer I have a lot of time off. (Time to catch up on being a normal person who doesn’t fall asleep by 4pm on a Friday!) And time to plan. Sure there are Professional Developments over the summer, but I also spend the summer reading articles about differentiation or blended learning, getting Google certified, reading the novels I will require my students to read, not to mention reading what is on the summer reading list, creating a syllabus, researching new ways to engage students, and the purchasing, planning, and designing. A welcoming classroom isn’t granted by a fairy godmother, I spend days upon days getting my room ready. I haul back every bin that is stored in my garage, porch, and living room, and set up my room. A room I try to make inviting. I scour the back to school sales for supplies, I hog the laminator at Lakeshore as if it is my job. So although we only have students in front of me for 180 days, believe me we are still working.
Ah yes. If they hate you that much, jealousy must be the answer! And truly what is there not to be jealous of; we really have the greatest job on Earth. We get to be in the room where it happens (sorry Aaron Burr!); that tiny spark of magic when a student realizes they can do something. Those days when students enter your room full of confidence because they know that they can figure out an equation, or analyze Shakespeare. We get to be there when they goof off and side track you because let’s face it, sometimes they are just so darn funny. We’re at their triumphs on the field, their not so great days in the halls, we advise them, we educate them, we love them as if they’re our own. And they are our own; in our four walls where we head out on an educational journey from September to June. We cry at their graduations, we cheer them on, were their teachers. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It has nothing to do with the hours; quite frankly my hours are long. I’m at school by seven a.m. most days (sometimes earlier) and I rarely am home before five. Yes, there is summer vacation, and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty great. During the school year my social life resembles one of a hermit, so it’s nice to have time for a date night, or spend some time with friends. And I get to try out new things because I work two jobs over the summer to compensate for not having my regular pay check. It’s about the kids. And they’re not products, they are really and truly the future. Having a small part of that is the most gratifying feeling in the world. I can’t imagine doing anything else. (And I’ve tried. I had various jobs before becoming a teacher!) So next time you read an internet troll calling teachers lazy, or if you come across inflammatory clickbait articles online, please think of where the author of the article/comments are coming from. They may have had an awful school experience, maybe they don’t understand education, or they’re jealous that they don't have the honor of working with students every day. If you see them, give them a hug, because chances are a teacher taught you that compassion is always the route over rhetoric.