- Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You - February 2, 2021
- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
“Oh, you are a teacher? It must be so nice to have two months off. I have a normal job with only two weeks’ vacation.” We have all heard it. And to be honest, we are sick of it. Sure, we get summers “off.” I do not need to mention the workshops, lesson plans, and reworking curriculum to meet the ever-changing standards, but I did. Here are a few things you may not realize.
1.Free time. Our free time is spent grading papers, lesson planning, and researching new ways to teach an old concept. The majority of us are tutors, coaches, and sponsors. We spend time after school to help develop talents and skills for no pay.Why a Teacher Cannot have a Normal Life... Click To Tweet
2.Emotional distress. Being a teacher is an emotional roller coaster. We cannot “leave it at work or leave it at home.” We deal with children. We care about ally one of them. Click To Tweet Teachers spend more time with our students than their parents spend with them. Brutal, but honest. I have a son. I know his teacher sees him more than I do. We carry your child’s emotions with us. I hear about heartbreaks, failing classes, and even trouble at home. How could I leave a situation like “My girlfriend gave our baby up for adoption without telling me” or “My mother keeps selling my shoes to get money for drugs?” and report this and push it from my mind? How can I teach Macbeth when I know why the boy in the back is near tears? I wish I could figure it out, and if you can, please let me know. We carry guilt with us. It is hard to balance work and home with just one or two kids to worry about. Imagine having to worry about thirty or even seventy-five.
3.No privacy. We cannot go to Walmart in shorts, no make-up, and a ponytail. We might run into a student and parent; then, we will have to have a parent-teacher conference in the cereal aisle. Or a student might see that bottle of wine in our cart. Then Monday comes, and surprise, Ms. So and So is a "wino" or Ms. So and So, you didn’t listen to the DARE lady.
Social Media has become a dangerous land mine. What if you have a bad day or a bad customer? No problem. Rant. Teachers do it, and we get pulled into the office for our negativity or a lecture on why a friend posted an inappropriate post on our page. Click To TweetEven with privacy settings, things get out. So if it is not PG, it doesn’t go on my page. Everyone says we have freedom of speech, but anything can be taken out of context and lead to a dismissal. Oh, and did I mention homecoming week? Everyone’s house is victimized. If you are loved- only toilet paper awaits. Hated? Get ready…
4. We can’t get sick. It is more trouble to miss than to actually go. When most people miss work, a desk is empty, or a register stays closed. We have thirty souls that need something to do. Something they understand and keep them busy for ninety minutes, so they don’t torment the sub or, in my case, our coworkers. If a teacher is absent, we have to give up our prep time to cover that class. Then we have tons of papers to grade that were rushed through and, more than likely, incomplete.
5. We save the world. It is not all bad. We save and guide our students’ lives. Teachers help choose majors, guide interests, and build confidence. We inspire and redirect. We don’t have superpowers, but our kids see them. We are thanked years later. Our students remember us when they are forty-five. They are at class reunions and say, remember when Ms. So and So said that? She changed my life.
That is why we cannot live a normal life. We are not normal people.
To read part II of this article, click here.
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I count it as a blessing to be a teacher. We mould the students' lives as well as ourselves. Praise God for the wisdom.
Roger Ek says
I know all about it. I have been married to one for 52 years. As a first year teacher she taught in a high school with 4,400 student. She had 164 students. She held voluntary classes after school to improve reading skills. She began with four students. Soon there were 18 so she moved to an auditorium. Then there were 140 students. The principal came in and asked what she was doing.
She said she was teaching reading to his non-reading high school students. He said he didn't have any non-reading high school students and Pat said, "Well, yes, you do." She began the first ESL program in our nation in 1964 as a first year teacher.
No stipends, no grant money, no federal aid; She just did it.
Goodness me, what a high opinion have of yourself! As a teacher myself I think you can have a normal life. Indeed what is normal? To think you 'save the world' is one of the most self indulgent, self important, egocentric statements I have read. We have a great job and work hard but no harder than others. My Father was a chef, my Mother an accountant and I know they worked as hard if not harder than me. Your lofty opinion of yourself is very much misplaced and one of the reasons teachers often get a bad rap. People often get the impression teachers think they are doing a more important job than everyone else. Thanks for adding to that....
Franchesca Warren says
You cannot be a teacher and think like this. Is there something wrong with a teacher thinking highly of themselves? Would you have the same remarks if a doctor or attorney said the same thing?
'We are not normal people'. Oh please, I am a teacher and have been for years along with most of my friends. Don't tell me I'm not a teacher because I have a different opinion to yours. Do you teach that to your children? We all agree this is self indulgent nonsense and that we are completely normal people. Firemen, police, nurses, doctors, fishermen; these are not normal people. They put themselves in harms way every day they go to work. We do an important job for sure but we do the job because we love it. Self praise is no praise in my opinion.
Franchesca Warren says
We don't teach because we love it. We teach because we are professionals with the education (and will) to do it.
If you don't love the job, you shouldn't be doing it! Is all of this altruism?
Penny P says
If you are called to teach in any facet, you realize early that teaching is 24/7/365. So is learning. Those that truly have a passion for teaching don't think this way. Those who have been outside academia know that there are plenty of jobs that are not 9a-5p. We all take work home. We all spend restless nights trying to find a solution to what seems the most important problem in the world. We all report to someone. We all take our jobs, our lives, and our families very seriously. We all need some level of income to live independently. We all have rules and laws to follow. And we can all be critical, judgmental, and at times, compromised especially when life hands you a bowl of lemons. As a mom, I am an educator, and I take this job very seriously -it is paramount for me. I try different approaches, some serious, some fun, but in the end the most important part of my job is to light the spark within my children, provide the resources to explore, and stand back and watch their passions explode, all while I stand close to catch them when they alg all, be open minded when they talk, and put away my red marking pen in favor of prompting the question behind the question when they struggle. When i do this with my kids or anyone else's, be they 3 or 30, I get amazing results, much more than when I dictate, set unreal expectations, ignore other priorities and lack of resources, and don't consider the whole team. Life is not you on an island, and please pardon my cliches but you do not stand alone with a ruler in hand dictating what a student will learn and how they will learn and then complain when they don't. Kids need time to explore and develop, and kids are part of a family where mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, sister, guardian and more have control of the people, time, and money in that child's life. Those resources and the level of complexity within those relationships are not considered in by most academics. We often say to our parents, trust your teachers-they know what they're doing. Teachers though must earn that trust and part of that is open dialogue with families in the early stages, not in crisis management or mitigation mode. Teachers should also feel they have the support of parents, families and their community-and the community wants to support teachers. Finding solutions to low wages and lack of resources for teachers should be a priority. Having time away to regenerate and plan is important for all. It is not just teachers, thought, that need this. Just as you feel you have no down time, that you are questioned and tested everyday, that there are too many people coming at you with too many questions and judgements, that you often put your family and personal time on hold to serve your career, and that you are not recognized for the hourly efforts you make, parents and students feel the same. It's time for truly open dialogue to fix the system, and it has to include families who are at the root of the educational sustem. A PhD and a red marking pen is not the only sign of a teacher.
As a teacher, I am entitled to a life outside of school. As long as I am not doing anything illegal or anything that gets in the way of doing my job effectively, then I should do what I want without scrutiny. I know that I am to be a role model and I am fine with that, but I should not be put on a pedestal because of my profession. Nobody would care if I got drunk on my own time being a business person, but I am a teacher, God forbid...I have to be perfect. Makes me sick and very angry. We are human and make mistakes. Teachers are not perfect because of a license and a job.
Nathalie Argueles says
Fascinating. Definitely bookmarking this page. Really valuable info, thanks for posting.