This is a list of a few stereotypes that drive us, teachers, crazy. Some of it is venting, and some of it is simply to stand up for all the educators out there, trying to keep it together. To all those, who think they know what teachers actually do on a daily basis, read on! To all you teachers, enjoy and pass it on if you feel the same way. Let’s set the record straight!
- I do not play all day with kids.
Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t play! With the amount of testing, interruptions, meetings, observations, school events, absences, and required curriculum, teachers barely get a chance to teach kids some of the most important things in life. When the kids go out to recess, teachers try to catch up on grading, lesson plans, photocopies, or get stuck in mandatory meetings. And when playtime is indoors, teachers transform into crowd control security guards. High school teachers don’t even have recess. And for kindergarten teachers, what you consider “playing”, is most likely an exercise in motor control, critical thinking, or logical reasoning. Bottom line, teachers don’t play!
- My day does not end at 3 pm when the kids leave.
Everyone who works the 9 to 5 thinks teachers “have it easy”! They think teachers have the same schedule as a kid. WRONG. When the last bell rings and the busses take those tiny humans away, that’s just the start of halftime for teachers. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes responsibilities that people don’t see or realize about teachers. Who grades those essays, tests, quizzes, assignments, projects, journals, workbooks… did I mention the tests? Who then inputs all the data from those grades, writes reports, emails parents, and talks to kids after school to find out how they can help more? Who custom-creates lesson plans around 100s of students with different learning needs, different learning styles, different cultural and family backgrounds? Who makes all the photocopies for those lessons, comes up with all the activities and games to try and make learning fun yet productive and educational? Who maps out each minute of every day to make sure everything that has to get done, gets done? We do need to sleep and eat, too…
- I do not get 2 months of vacation during the summer.
Summer break is far from a vacation for teachers. First off, a lot of teachers don’t even get a break because they teach summer school. A lot of teachers find another job to have an income over the summer. The rest of the teachers might take a couple weeks off to rest and recharge, but most of the summer is spent researching for new lesson ideas for the following year, buying school supplies, attending teacher conferences/seminars, doing professional development, and decorating classrooms. Even spending time on Pinterest finding activities and resources can be considered work. What most people call “Summer Break” for teachers, we call “collecting overtime!”
- My weekends are not even days off.
Just like after the evenings and summer break, the weekends are never long enough to rest and relax. And for teachers who are also parents, don’t get me started! The majority of a teacher’s Saturday and Sunday is a chaotic blend of catching up on grading, lesson plans, and getting our lives together after the exhausting Monday-to-Friday roller-coaster ride.
- I don’t live off of your income taxes.
Do you think you’re the boss of all the police officers and firefighters in town? How about the folks over at NASA or the military? Because your taxes pay for that, too! Not to mention, a large percentage of teachers barely survive off their teacher salaries. Many of us are seeking 2nd and/or 3rd part-time jobs in order to put food on the table and clothes on our families’ backs. So the next time you want to mention anything about your taxes paying my salary, bite your tongue, please. Thanks.
- Teaching is not a fallback profession.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people saying things like, “Maybe I’ll just be a teacher if this doesn’t work out,” or “I could be a teacher, I went to school, how hard could it be!” or “Maybe I’ll just quit and try teaching for a bit…” Seriously? Do you know how many degrees, licenses, certifications, and advanced professional training you need to be a teacher, and continue teaching each year? It’s not a “last resort” profession. Teaching is the profession that creates all other professions, don’t forget that.
- My job does not consist of standing in front of a classroom, reading from a book.
If you truly think that a teacher’s job consists of simply standing in front of a classroom, reading from a textbook, you must have either never paid attention in school growing up, or you were born on another planet. Because that is the most outrageous description of the teaching profession that anyone has ever come up with. Ever.
- No, I am not a babysitter or a daycare worker.
No offense to any nannies or daycare professionals. Looking after children is no easy task, that’s for sure. But surprise, surprise, that’s just a fraction of a teacher’s job. Classroom management, behavior management, or discipline (whatever you want to call it) — while being one of the largest contributors to pounding headaches and excess coffee-consumption — is just one of the many vital responsibilities that teachers face, every day. We are educators. Our responsibility is to teach students the skills and knowledge they need to grow up and be responsible humans. The babysitting part is just one of the many balls we juggle each day.
- Teaching is not my job, it’s my life.
If you didn’t catch my drift after numbers one to eight above, then maybe you should read them over again. Or maybe it’s just something that’s hard to understand if you’ve never stood in a teacher’s shoes. We don’t have the luxury of clocking in and clocking out, going home, leaving “work” at “work”, and enjoying our personal lives. Maybe for some extraordinary teachers, who have somehow managed to accomplish this near-to-impossible way of life, this is not entirely true. But most of us take work home, whether it’s in the form of an abnormally-sized bag of papers to grade, or in our thoughts while trying to fall asleep at night. For a lot of us, teaching responsibilities even take over our social lives and quality family time.
- Teaching is nothing like the movies and TV shows you watch.
The most accurate portrayal of teachers is not Jack Black in School of Rock, Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, or Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. If you want to dive deep into the true desperation of a teacher, the most accurate example is probably Mr. Heisenberg from Breaking Bad (for those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s about a Hight School teacher who starts cooking/selling Meth when he gets cancer, because his teacher salary can’t cover his medical bills). Understandably, Hollywood convinces everyone that being a teacher is all fun and games, hanging out with kids all day, forming rock bands, and teaching them stuff that we’re actually passionate about. The truth is, we barely have time to teach them the required curriculum. With all the tests, meetings, administrative duties, and other tiresome tasks we have to deal with in our current education system, being a teacher requires a lot of dedication, sacrifice, and grit that the movies don’t even come close to portraying.
Voila! That’s my rant. I could go on, but I have to go grade some papers and maybe sneak in a shower this week if all goes well!
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