I'm sick as a dog right now. (Which doesn't actually make sense, because out of the five living things in my house, my dogs are the least likely to be sick right now.) I HATE being sick. I'm not one of those troopers who can soldier on cheerfully through illness. Being sick doesn't just affect my body; it depresses the hell out of me as well. Being sick makes me cry. Every throat-scorching sneeze, every wave of exhaustion, every breath through my mouth (because my nose is plugged up) - it makes me lose my will to live.
So, in the spirit of misery, here another thing I hate:
when people assume that I have it easy because I'm a teacher. We get summers, weekends, and holidays off, we get off work at 3pm, and it's not like it's hard to get into an education program. Easy, right? WRONG. Try this:
- We work 9 months out of the year (and that's all we get paid for), but during the summer, most teachers are doing professional development (often because they HAVE to), paid for out of their own pocket. Or we're really just trying to RECOVER. Or salvage our family lives.
- We're TEACHING from 8am-3pm, but lots of us get to school at 7am, and lots MORE of us stay after school as late as 5 or 6pm, and then we go home and work another 2 or 3 (or more) hours, and then lots of times, we spend most of the day on weekends grading the BIG assignments because we can work for a longer chunk of time.
- Being a teacher doesn't just mean that we teach; we also have to do extra duties. Most supervise two events throughout the year (3, 4 hours each? - sporting events, school play, etc); I, however, am a class advisor, which means 30 minutes EVERY week for meetings. Then add on supervising after school meetings/practices (1-2 hours), supervising ticket sales or attending fundraisers (30mins to an hour or so)... Trojan Olympics practice for us is another 3 hours a week for four weeks, and then the event itself is 3 hours... every grade level has an evening event they're responsible for (talent show or a dance... juniors have winter ball AND junior prom), so that's another few hours for set up and the event itself, which doesn't take into consideration other things that lead up to it (like talent show auditions, meeting with event coordinators for prom)... anyway, get the gist?
- And the above is in addition to the staff meetings, department meetings, parent meetings, team meetings... lots of meetings, all the time.
- We all teach 5 periods a day, at least two different preps, with only 1 period to prepare during the day. So, it's no wonder we do a lot of work after hours.
- Um, by the way, all teachers have to have a college degree (in an actual academic field, usually - not JUST education), and LOTS of teachers have graduate degrees.
- Oh hi, NCLB, anyone? Test scores and all that ridiculous crap that takes up our time.
- I teach high school, so I have about 140 teenagers (with their own minds, their own lives, their own sets of issues and problems and backstories) blinking at me every day, waiting for me to entertain them (yes, ENTERTAIN). Elementary school teachers have a lot fewer, but those kids are a lot younger and come with their own issues as well.
Do I hate my job? No. If I hated it, I wouldn't be doing it. But it's a hard job, a hard job that is made harder by the fact that there are so many people who still don't respect it, thinking that it's "easy" and that they could do a better job than we (who are trained) can. It's a hard job that I don't get paid very much for (because teaching is traditionally "women's work"), which means that "normal" adult accomplishments like owning a home or having children are rendered nearly impossible if you want to remain single or want to be a single-income household (at least, in the Bay Area). And it's a hard job that affects MANY lives, because I'm not just standing on an assembly line messing with a piece of machinery, but I'm tinkering with minds and hearts and souls who will eventually be adults working in the world. It's a fragile thing, and it's no wonder you have to be trained to teach.
So just because you sat in a classroom once, it doesn't mean that you know how to be a teacher. So take your snobbishness and shove it.