I’ve wondered off and on for years now, if I should take some of my experiences and share them with others. There’s a lot being said about education, teachers, administrators, etc. these days and I sometimes wonder if anyone would really like to know one educator’s experiences with some of the insanity that this career choice means for one such person. It seems that anytime there is a small group that gets wound up that somehow teachers get the blame. But before I go on that rant, I am thinking of taking some of the experiences I have reflected on in journals and putting them in some kind of format that would be readable and maybe share some experiences of what its like working in education… I don’t know… maybe I’m just dreaming… lol
I know there are a 1001 memes out there detailing all the issues teachers have with how things are… but the reality is that we know we “chose” to become teachers, we know the pay sucks (sometimes), we know we have to do lesson planning and grading “after school hours”, we know that we may need to supplement our classroom budget (if we get one at all)… that’s not the point that we are trying to get people to see. Teachers are paid for 180-190 days of actual work – those are the days your children are IN SCHOOL… let me use this as an example, when I started teaching in 2007, my first contract was $31,500- I had 190 days in my contract because of mandatory training days before the school year started, so, divide $31,500 by 190 days, that gives us $165.79 per day, so for an 8 hour day that is… $20.72 per hour. That does not include the 2 hours spent daily for preparing or for grading, which I accept as “part of the job”. Now, I’m going to give you another situation… I worked as a special education teacher for two years, which meant more work after hours, writing IEPs and going through data, creating reports, taking classes (because I was on an emergency license and had to take at least 2 classes per semester to keep the job), after school and before school meetings (IEP, manifestation determination, expulsion, committee, etc.). Please understand… I am NOT complaining, its just that people we need to realize that the one thing we expect is that our teachers will do all of the above and more, and we don’t have the common decency to treat them with respect, respect that they went to college, some (a lot more than you realize probably) have master’s degrees, and doctorates, but society still acts like its not a “real” job because of the breaks. Here’s a reminder… TEACHERS DO NOT GET PAID FOR ALL THOSE BREAKS! Their contracts are divided up over 26 pays… they get paid for the actual days they work!
As I sit here in my home office, looking at the job postings and hearing the constant slamming of teachers, administrators, etc., I often wonder, what happened? When did education lose its status as a noble career path? I get it that there are a lot of kooks out there, but there are in any profession, and that’s what education is, a PROFESSION. Educators need to have the appropriate licensing, the appropriate coursework, they take tests to prove their knowledge over and over again. Constant professional development… tenure is a thing of the past… There’s so much about teaching that is negative but the positives are why we do it. Seeing the young men and women I taught growing into successful adults, raising children of their own, that’s why we do it. Not for fame and fortune for sure!
I guess I’m feeling rough, not just being I lost my position and haven’t found a new one yet, but recent events have really made my teacher heart break. Less than a year ago, while I was director of education at a local day reporting program, one of my students committed a heinous act, he and his cousin killed a local man in a robbery, the victim was a pillar of the community, he was very well respected and likely would have given these boys whatever they wanted, but they chose to do wrong. This is not the first of my students to make a wrong decision, nor will it be the last, but I had worked with this youngster, saw his potential, he had the potential to be anything, and he chose to be a killer. It was announced recently that this 15 year old boy and his cousin will be charged as adults. He had great potential, the key word is “had”, he threw it away. Looking back I realize that all the times I worked with him, all the courses we worked on and he completed, all the times he told me he wanted more… it was all a ploy, a scam. He had already chosen his path and he wanted me to shut up. I accept that. What else can I do. I did what any teacher would have done, any administrator would have done, I gave my attention, my skill, my energy to that child, I worked every day to help him make a better choice, but ultimately, I could not make it for him and he chose “the life”. Well, his is over, he’s on video clearly and there are no excuses to be made. There are other stories like this one, some just as sickening, some worse. Teachers take these things to heart. We feel responsible somehow for not seeing, not knowing, not being able to change the kid’s mind…
During the last uproar about the possible passage of a law that would have hindered schools enormously, I heard a lot about indoctrination and teachers putting their political, personal, and other views into the classroom. I don’t know where these folks went to college, or what teaching programs they attended, but it was beaten into our brains that your views are of no use in the classroom! Not your religion, not your politics, not your anything. Teaching is about that… TEACHING. Critical thinking… what happened to that? Oh that’s right… the other hated words in education… standardized testing… we want teachers to differentiate for each student, stick to community standards, stick to the educational state standards, and keep it real. When students asked me my opinions, I declined. I would often give them multiple views of the circumstances and let them make their own decisions. Not a single student knew my politics, knew my opinions on any social issue, because its no one’s business but my own. When was it ever acceptable for any teacher to proclaim their stance on any issue in the classroom? Politics aside, religion aside, etc. I just cannot believe that there is a “big, huge” group of teachers out there teaching things that are harmful to our kids. I’ve known many educators in my time, and while we may not agree on politics, religion, whatever, it was NOT something we brought into our classrooms, most of the time, we didn’t even discuss those things on campus, much less in the classroom with our students.
This kind of thing reminds me of when I used to talk with my dad about hunters… he would say 10% of hunters are actually poachers… the other 90% follow the rules and laws… but you only hear about the 10%. I can’t help but believe the same is true for any part of any population. We don’t talk about the 90% who are doing the right thing, what’s expected or what is right… we hear and talk about the ones who don’t. Our society is obsessed with the goings on of professional athletes, actors/actresses, models, social media… Our society is so focused on what other people are doing we don’t see reality. I believe its all a way to get people off the track of really seeing what’s going on in our world. I’m not just talking about politics or any of that… people really don’t seem to just care anymore. If its not about them, it doesn’t matter, or if its not a movement that they can scream about, that too doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ve seen too much, maybe I’ve read too much history, but what I see is that this is not a new thing in history… we’ve been here before folks… And as I used to teach my students… it starts with a small population that is scapegoated, publicly shamed and demeaned, degraded and manipulated, controlled and destroyed. Be vigilant, don’t stop reading those banned books… use your brains, critically think about what you read and hear in social media, news media, politics, from everyone and every where… make up your own mind… and above all else… Question everything.
Wow…that went in a direction I hadn’t planned but guess the muse took control. LOL