“Teachers have it easy.” **
An old friend said that to me recently. I’m not mad. It is one of the perceptions that people have about teachers and teaching. And he’s right in a way. Teaching is easy when compared to being a lumberjack or police work or being a fireman and rushing into a burning building or digging a ditch or putting up drywall or heart surgery or brain surgery or living day-in and day-out in a war zone, wondering when something’s gonna go wrong, (’cause it will), and someone, maybe you, ends up dead or debilitated. In contrast, yes, teachers have it easy.
There are lots of jobs that are more strenuous, physically and mentally, than teaching. But what I don’t think many people consider is that teaching is not what it used to be. That shop teacher or math teacher who gave you an assignment and then went back to his desk to read the paper, the English teacher who played a video of the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet, while she graded papers, the social studies teacher who had you play Jeopardy! in class, well, those teachers are gone.
Every day, I am searching for ways to connect with my students, to engage them in learning so that they can grow up to fulfill their own dreams of who they want to be. Each and every day, my colleagues and I are involved in an effort to inspire our students so that they will develop the critical thinking skills needed to ignite their own desires and cultivate their own motivations for being awesome and decent people.
They will inherit the Earth.
Will they be ready? God, I hope so. With the amount of thinking and planning and strategizing that I see going into the instructional opportunities students experience now, I would like to think that our children have a chance. It keeps me up at night, it wakes me up early; all these ideas I have to reach my students and help them launch themselves into amazing futures.
And I know I’m not alone. My colleagues share similar stories of waking up at 3 a.m. to conjure instructional ideas that came to them in their sleep. Or the ideas that kept them awake in the first place. We are dedicated. We are obsessed! We are here, in class, every day, sometimes, (most times), when we feel ill. We are relentless in our pursuit of academic excellence.
And all this, despite almost constant attack from the media, misguided parents, clueless lawmakers and governors, and mandated educational ideas that leave our hands tied. We are ever on the lookout for a better way to help our students learn even when it costs us our time, our money, or our health. Our jobs are not back-breaking work, but, (and I owe this to my fine musical colleague who pointed it out), we are brain surgeons, we are heart surgeons, in a way. We’re like the doctors of M.A.S.H. Every day we are operating under non-ideal circumstances, helping the youth of today become the leaders of tomorrow, all the while enduring deplorable conditions and a barrage of sticks & stones from detractors who sit in glass houses! (Wow!!) Daily, we are helping students make new connections in their mysterious brains, rewiring things, correcting misconceptions, hoping that our work will one day save the patient’s life because they will make smart decisions when it matters most. We help heal wounded hearts and broken hearts and lonely hearts and abused hearts and confused hearts.
And sometimes a kid just needs a Band-aid.
The best thing (sarcasm alert!) is that we get to do all this with college educations that rival the biggest, baddest business tycoons or lawyers in the land. I have two degrees myself and bring a wealth of lifetime educational experience to the table. (Mainly because I spent so long in school!!) But there are teachers who have multiple degrees from REALLY good universities, in a myriad of fields, and they choose to teach.
Perhaps, like the superheroes that teachers are, (myself excluded), it’s the adulation they receive from a grateful public. Or maybe it is the positive reinforcement they get from the two or three or five evaluations cycles they go through during the school year. Maybe it’s the vow of poverty we all took when we were called to this career.
Yeah, today’s teachers have it easy. Summer is coming and I know everyone thinks that makes up for everything. And it does, kind of. So, let the good times roll!!!
**This post got surprisingly out of control where sarcasm is considered! It sounds a bit snarky and self-pitying at times. That was unintended, rest assured. I apologize for any undue harm or distress this may have caused anyone. Please forgive me, after all, I’m a teacher, I can’t help it!**