Do We Even Know How Most Outsiders View Our Jobs As Teachers? General by Joel Wagner - June 30, 2010June 30, 20107 This morning I allowed a guest post to go up on this blog that many readers felt was inappropriate for this blog. In it, the author listed three reasons mothers should become teachers: You’re assured of more than two months of vacation every year Your schedule is perfect when it comes to looking after your kids The stress level associated with the job is minimum Now, anyone who has actually been a teacher (whether a mother or not) knows these reasons are ill-conceived at best, and mostly offensive. I am reminded of two years ago when a troll called J Frap came over and posted a comment wherein he asserted that one reason people should be a teachers is that it is a: “part time job at full pay wages”. Thats a huge benefit, how about you take one year off from teaching and work in the real world, where you would make less money, only receive one week paid vacation, you wouldn’t be given ‘planning days’ every other week, and you would have to work on most holidays. Obviously, many readers took offense to this comment, and rightly so. My response was that, while there are some perks, it is definitely not a part-time job in that sense. A month later, I wrote an article delineating why it’s really far from part-time — Teaching: Part Time Job At Full Pay Wages???? This article garnered some comments from the other extreme of the spectrum. I’m not complaining, but we NEED that time to recover and prepare for the next year. Nobody works harder than teachers do, no matter what they do. 1. My “planning” time is filled with faculty meetings, department meetings, SST meetings, cirriculum meetings, grade level meetings, and any other professional development my administraion deems important. I do all of my planning on my own dime. 2. For the 08-09 school year, I will arrive at school at around 7 AM and leave at about 6:00PM every day. I will have a 25 minute lunch, but I will still be working as I will have lunch duty. When I get home from school (and on weekends) I will have papers to grade and materials to create for an upcoming unit. I don’t get paid overtime for that. 3. I do not recieve pay for my summer “vacation.” I get paid for 190 contractual days, but it is spread out over the 12 months. 4. My “vacation” is chock full of professional development workshops, cirriculum meetings, and planning for the next year (I get a $50 stipend for 2 workshops). The time that I do have to myself over the summer is spent reflecting on my previous preformance and coming up with ways to make the next year run more smoothly (again, I don’t get overtime for this). 5. This year, I will spend roughly $250-$300 out of my own pocket to furnish materials and supplies to my own classroom. I get a tax write-off, but not for the whole thing. I won’t get reimbursed for the money I spend. I don’t get a company car. 6. I will spend each day every day in front of 110 hormonal 12 year olds. I will be a counselor, mediator, entertainer, facilitator, coach, police officer, mother figure, and teacher over the course of every day. I will undoubtedly catch every form of the cold, flu, and stomach virus that floats the the halls of my school. I will break up fights, get yelled at by kids I don’t know, get threatend by parents, and sometimes be underminded by my employer. I won’t get hazard pay. Some of the other eye-opening comments included: I have to admit I used to have similar thoughts about teachers being part-time workers. Then I started homeschooling the kids. My hours doing that are much less then a teachers but I stated to see all the things that have to go on behind that bit of sit down time everyone sees. The planning, the research, the organization…Hats off to you! Mister Teacher, who is the author of Learn Me Good (both the New York Times Bestselling book and the blog) and is also getting married this week, wrote in his article Teaching Mythstakes!: The person who wrote this on a blog I read seems to think that we work with our children Monday through Thursday, and every Friday we sequester ourselves at a back table at Chili’s and plan out the next week around nachos and margaritas. The truth is that we have a 45-minute “planning period” every day while our kids are at PE or art or music. Aside from our lunch break, this is the only time that we are not with our students. However, this planning period is not always a true break, as it is frequently used for parent conferences or impromptu meetings with the principal, the test coordinator, or other members of the faculty. Oh yeah, the book isn’t really a New York Times Bestseller, but it’s good. Another comment that came in that discussion was this one: Most outsiders think teachers “have got it made,” because of the schedule they have, but to them I say trade places with a teacher for a day and see how it works out for you. Those people have no idea what it’s like to spend countless hours preparing engaging and intriguing lessons for apathetic kids, some of whose parents send them to school and ‘hope that everything works out for the best,’ expecting teachers to raise the kids or otherwise make corrections and teach lessons that should have come from home. Despite this however, I do love teaching though aware of these glaring realities. I hope you read this article in full and grasped the dualities that were given in the discussion. Naturally, no one should attempt to judge another’s situation if they haven’t been through it, and there are clearly some jobs that I would never want to do–but to anyone who talks about teachers and their complaints, I BEG you to sub a day or two in my classroom. It’s interesting to me when I consider that most people have absolutely no clue what I do in my job. I know there are many second-career-teachers (my dad is a retired fire marshal who now teaches 6th grade), but most of us who teach have never been out of the school systems. We tend to forget that the average adult graduates from high school or college and goes directly into a world where they work 5-6 days a week every week of the year. No spring break, no summer vacation, no Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays. Bank holidays if they’re lucky. So the next time someone comes up to you and tells you that they wish they could have a low-stress job where scheduling is as “easy as pie,” try to see things from their perspective before you respond. Odds are, they really aren’t trying to be offensive… Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.