Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Life of a Teacher

“I blew a gasket yesterday.  A neighbor read my recent post about my salary and slipped comfortably into a rant about teachers and how easy our jobs are and how he's sick of hearing us complain given that we work from 8 until 3 and have three months off every summer.”

This made me angry also and unless teachers take the time to stand up for ourselves and set the record straight, too many people continue to have this crazy impression of what teachers do. I don’t know where they have gotten this or maybe it is something that has gone on forever but it needs to stop.

First of all, I don’t understand where anyone gets the idea that we have 3 months off for the summer. As a child going to school and as a teacher for over 30 years, I have never had 3 months off for school! Summer vacation usually lasts for 8 weeks at the most. Maybe it is time to ask this person where they went to school and how they earned 3 months off.

I can’t speak for other teachers but I can tell you what my life as a teacher involved. I was busy doing things that concerned my classroom all year long.

I would leave my house and get to school usually an hour before I was required to be there because there just wasn’t enough time to prepare for my class if I only got there 15 minutes ahead of time. I liked to make sure all of my papers were in order and no last minute items need to be gathered. I like to be organized and prepared before my students arrived.

We were allowed to leave 15 minutes after the students were dismissed at the end of the day but I was usually there an hour or two after for professional development, meetings, or parent conferences.  I did not earn any overtime pay for arriving early or staying late.

I tried to support the students outside of school hours so that usually meant going to Friday night football games, 2 basketball games a week during that season, and then baseball and softball games. Keep in mind that I was not paid extra for any of these things.

For 8 years, I was a cheerleader coach in order to supplement my salary. This meant that I spent all summer with cheerleader practices and cheerleader camp.

When summer vacation started and I no longer coached cheerleaders, I would sign up for technology classes that could enhance my instruction. I also signed up for graduate classes at the local university because my teaching license had to be renewed every 5 years and I had to pay for these expensive classes on my own.

When I wasn’t taking classes, I was always looking for opportunities that would somehow improve my teaching techniques. I might be looking at new activities or strategies, which meant I was constantly doing research.

I also used this time to gather new materials and supplies for my classroom. Most of the time I spent my own money are these things and was rarely reimbursed for anything.

Just because I was not physically in the classroom didn’t mean that my mind wasn’t in the classroom. Whenever we traveled during this break, I tried to see how my trip would fit somehow into a learning experience for my students. My poor family had to listen to endless discussions about how I could share information from my trip and turn it into a lesson.

I’m not complaining about all of the time I put into my teaching. In fact, I feel that this is what helped me be effective. I did it because I loved to teach.

Teachers get paid less than many other professions, yet we are expected to shape the minds of future leaders. Every year we are expected to do more but our salary doesn’t increase commensurate with our duties.

What I resent the most are the people who are not teachers, and would never consider spending time in the classroom spread an attitude that teachers are not worthy of the salary they do get. This attitude implies that I do not earn the salary and in fact should get less than what I get. This attitude shows a lack of respect for the teaching profession and it needs to stop.

If you are a teacher, please take the time to share with others all the time you put into your work. You can share it in the comment section or write a post on your own blog (please leave a link to the post in the comment section so I can read it!).

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