My dear friend Astolfo gave me a prompt, “There are five things everybody should know about…” The first thing that came to my dust filled mind was shoes, but when I sat down to actually write, well, things took a different turn. So, here it is.
There are five things everybody should know about being a teacher. A lot of people think it’s an easy job, clearly they don’t remember themselves as kids, and I’m sure they’ve never stepped into a classroom full of the screaming, dangerous creatures that they call their precious children. Teaching, though rewarding, is a very difficult, tiring and demanding profession, and the next time you plan to jump on your kids’ teacher and yell at her for whatever you think is a perfect reason, think about:
1. Your kid? He/She is special, yes. FOR YOU. Best scenario, we have 15 to 20 students in the classroom, but usually there are up to 40 kids and only one teacher to tend to their needs, so, yeah, you migh think your child is the light of the universe, but in reality, he/she is another little person that doesn’t know how to differentiate their face of their ass.
2. Homework is not a punishment. You do realize that the only way your kid is going to learn how to read is by, well, reading, right? The same way he/she learned how to walk, talk and be the awesome/annoying being he/she is, the key is repetition, and there’s only so much we can do in the time we’re given. 5 – 8 hours a day, we teachers try to not only give them academic knowledge, we teach them habits and manners (which, parents, you should do at home and not throw your wolves at us), therefore there’s not enough time for kids to practice the skills they’ve acquired in class. Or did you think you were only getting the fun part? If kids think we’re evil, well, you’re going down with us.
3. Teachers have a life outside school. If you see your kids’ teacher at the mall, in a restaurant, at the movie theater, at the beach, wherever that it’s not the school, please, PLEASE, DO NOT ASK ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S GRADES, BEHAVIOR OR PERFORMANCE IN CLASS. We don’t call you for financial advise during the weekends, or ask about that weird lump that we got in our neck* (you know the word I’m thinking is not neck) when you drop your kid in the morning, so, please, respect that we are regular people that have lives and do things, just like you and any other human being.
4. And speaking about free time, we don’t have much of it. I’ts 5:00 p.m. and your work day has officially ended, you pack your things and leave your office, go home, where you can spend your time watching TV, surfing the web, going out with your family or doing the chores, whatever. We don’t get that. We are ALWAYS working. Our jobs start like an hour before yours, and when the kids leave? We have more work to do. Planning classes, doing research, checking exams, writing performance reports, grading essays, do you think that, what, a fairy does all of that? That we are magical beings with the power of mind reading and hieroglyphics translation skills? (by the way, refer to #2 and force your kid to do some calligraphy, if he/she wants to write like a doctor, he/she has to go through med school first) We have to take all that work and do it at home, where we also have to do the chores, share time with our families and try to have a life. Now that I think about it, we ARE kind of magical.
5. Teaching is important. I’ve been a teacher for ten years, and I’ve met countless kids. Every single year, when we talk about jobs and occupations, I ask my students what they want to be when they grow up. Some of them want to be doctors, others engineers, actors, models, singers. One or two want to be musicians. Some of them say weird things, like one of my students who wanted to be the one that plants trees in the streets (a town planner) or another who wants to taste stuff (a sommelier, maybe?). But in ten years, I think I may be exaggerating when I say that there have been 5 students that said they want to be teachers. And I think that’s sad. Parents usually tell their children that they have to study and have a profession where they can make lots of money and buy lots of stuff, not realizing that they’re squashing their kids’ dreams, and limiting their options. And more than that, when I ask them if they want to be teachers, they laugh and say that’s a stupid job, who would want to spend their time surrounded by kids? (Well, I wonder, who indeed?). These are the children that will be the next doctors, engineers, scientists, artists, sports people, but who is going to educate the generation that comes after them? And after them? And after them?
I remember when I was a little girl and my sister and I played with dolls, I wanted to be two things, and one of them was to be a teacher. I had such remarkable teachers during my childhood that I felt inspired by them, I wanted to be like them. To me it didn’t matter that they weren’t loaded, or had the best car or fancy stuff, what felt important was that they were amazing people. And when I decided to be a teacher, the people around me supported my decision, and didn’t make me feel like I was an idiot for not pursuing a career in the field I prepared myself for in college (I feel like an idiot for not pursuing a career in the field I prepared myself for in college, but that’s a whole other business). So I strive to be that teacher, the one students look up to, and maybe, just maybe, I can inspire others as I was inspired once.
A raise would be good, tho’.