I graduated high school at the top of my class. I took every science course I could in high school and went into college majoring in Biology. I was going to be a physical therapist, nurse, or doctor. I loved science, helping people, and little kids. After a 1 1/2 years of college I switched my major to Elementary Education (1st through 8th grade) with a minor in science. People were surprised, I was a hard worker, smart, and I could be anything I wanted to be, why was I going to be a teacher? I am not sure where the bad rep for teaching came from. Ever since I have been a teacher, teachers have been under attack and taken for granted. I am not sure where our government got the idea that any person with a degree could teach. I wonder if they have ever been in a classroom? The benefits for teachers have been cut and the amount of work for teachers has increased. In a lot of schools pay salaries have been froze and no matter how hard you work or how much extra time you put in, you rarely ever get a thank you let alone a pay increase. Since I have become a teacher people have commented to me about how easy teaching is and how nice it must be for me to get my summers off. A lot of the time I hold my breath and not comment. If they had any idea what I was doing for the kids in my classroom they would never make that comment. On top of random people’s comments about teachers I have also got the terrible phone calls from parents who are never happy and complain about everything. I would try not to take it personally, but how could I not. I spent the majority of the day taking care of their kids and trying to give them the best experience I could. Teaching is not a job, it is a way of life. It got to a point where I was doing more for my students at school than my kids at home. I was giving too much of myself at school. I knew at school I was all that some kids had. I made sure they had cupcakes on their birthday to share with the class. I made sure I had books they were interested in, activities that help them accept each other, and lessons on how to be a great student and kid. I made sure they had presents to give to their family members at Christmas and Mother’s day. One year 12 of my students had divorced parents so we made 12 extra of every gift so that the students would have a little something for each parent. At one point I was so caught up with what my students at school needed I forgot to bring Kenna’s birthday treats to daycare. UGH, I felt terrible. I was so consumed with getting everything ready for my students at school I totally spaced Kenna’s treats, my own daughter. With everything teachers give to their students physically, mentally, and emotionally, it is hard to deal with all of the negative comments from the parents, government, and society. Yes, there are a few parents and kids that thank you, but it is a small amount compared to the ones that complain.
This is the first day of school for a lot of schools in our area. This is the first year after five years of teaching that I am not getting up and going to school. I am going to be a stay at home. I know, I am very lucky, but this post is not about me it is for all of the teachers out there. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs. A lot of people laugh at me when I say that. They think their job is way more challenging, I mean teachers only play with kids all day, how can that be difficult? The funny thing is that teachers work all day and night. During the school day teachers are wearing multiple hats. Within the first 10 minutes of the day they are collecting lunch money, notes, taking milk count, taking attendance, having students work on a difficult math problem, having the students pick out new books for the day, and doing all of these activities at a moderate noise level, while the teacher is talking on the phone to a parent. They are teaching, counselling, ordering cupcakes for the students whose parents forgot, coming up with new ideas because one student can’t figure it out. After school teachers are getting the classroom ready for kids, searching for new exciting lessons and activities, and grading papers. At night teachers are lying in bed thinking about seating charts and where to move students so they have a better experience, or what book will Johnny like to hopefully get him excited to read, and teachers are praying for their students that struggle. Teachers have cried for your children, prayed for them, and searched the internet for endless ideas of how to help them as a student and as a kid. Being a teacher is a never-ending job. In the summer they may have off, but teachers are still working. They are writing curriculum, making new schedules for the next year, finding new read alouds that connect with the students, taking educational classes, getting their classrooms ready, and the list goes on and on.
So for all the teachers out there, THANK YOU. Thank you for what you do for the kids. I know it is not easy and I know it is hard and sometimes you are exhausted, but thank you. I know parents can be a pain, but remember that to some kids you are all they have. Remember that some students go to school just to see the smile on your face. Remember that you are loved even if you never hear it from the students or the parents. Those kids need you. I know it is easy to forget that you mean the world to the kids in your classroom and you make a difference because I forgot. I would hate for other teachers to forget because you are all wonderful and the students need great teachers like you.
In addition, if you have kids in school or have ever went to school or are going to have kids in school one day; stick up for the teachers, thank them, and let them know they are appreciated, they do not hear it enough! Have a great school year and THANK YOU!