I wanted to carry on a conversation that began at Red’s post Thoughts for Thursday regarding teachers, their pay, and work ethic…
I taught (more like slaved) for four years before having my first child. My first year was at a very wealthy private high school in New Jersey, my second was at a low income middle school in Colorado Springs, and the third and fourth were at a mixed socioeconomic high school also in CS. In all three places, I worked my tail off. As Juris Mater offered in her description of her husband’s lifestyle, my world was a myriad of planning lessons, creating new ways of approaching science, tweaking, honing, re-planning, grading, grading, grading, entering data, assessing data, worrying over failing students. organizing endlessly, not to mention, standing in front of 150 students on a daily basis trying to help them LEARN and understand. It was my JOY.
My day began at 7am when I would pull into the parking lot, sometimes met by students at my car! I would proceed to my desk, where I would begin to scramble to get everything together for the day’s lessons. Mind you, thats PLURAL. With each job I had 3 classes to prep for. Not just one lesson to tweak… three. And most of the time I was creating entirely NEW curriculum. There were new standards, new assessments, new requirements every year. To say that a 30-year teaching veteran does not plan, prepare, tweak, etc. is a misunderstanding. Yes, certain lessons carry over from year to year, but the overall organization task to meet students needs is ongoing and never relaxing.
My day would often spill over into after-school help as I attempted to track down failing students, absent students, students who were just not making the cut… I would eventually leave school, only to pull into our driveway and continue to grade, plan, prepare. It was endless and exhausting, yet completely exhilarating when at 11pm at night (while pouring over science reports) I encountered that one student who “got it”, who understood after being confused the day before, who learned.
I love teaching. I miss it. I revere it. I wish more people shared my perspective. It seems like many of you gloss over the role of teacher, even after being homeschoolers yourselves!! That saddens me. The more respect we have in our society for our educators and the incredible task they undertake, the sooner we realize that they are WORTH every cent they’re paid and more. That nice summer break they get? Chop off a week at the beginning and end due to meetings and future planning. Add in a conference or two during the summer and you’ve chopped off one more. In the end, the days off barely repay the many, many hours paid throughout the school year.