We all make the same mistake. We sometimes read the comments. From the trolls, to the experts on all things, to the blatantly ignorant, the comments section paints a bleak picture of humanity.
My favorite – when non-educators are experts in public education, how to teach children, and think we teachers have such a cake job. It’s time for a reality television show in which John Q. Public is put in a public school and given the task to last one week. No, you can’t show movies. No, you can’t bribe the kids with money. An yes, those kids have to pass an assessment on the material at the end of the week. Any takers?
Truth is, those who are so negative about public education and teachers are often those causing much of the problems in public education. It’s rude and disrespectful adults raising children who are rude and disrespectful. Adults who minimize other people and professions raise children who do the same. It’s a lack of basic respect exemplified in the comments section that explains the lack of respect exhibited by our children in schools.
A recent post of mine on Facebook which read, “Parents, please stop texting your child in class,” resonated with a lot of people. In total, the post has reached 831,600 people, had 43,515 reactions, 12,346 comments, and shared 3,901 times. Many comments were in full support, many were teachers feeling validated, yet others were adults bashing teachers or stating they’d text whenever they wanted and it was none of the teacher’s business (face palm).
Then there are those comments on social media about how easy teachers have it, the “paid” time off is ridiculous, teachers are lazy, selfish, and on, and on. If this is true, I urge all of these commentators to give teaching a try. After all, America is short 340,000 teachers at the moment. It won’t be hard getting one of these cushy, highly compensated jobs of which they speak.
Let me walk you through it all. I was 28 when I was hired as a teacher for the first time. I had a bachelor’s degree from a prestigious university, of which I earned a near full ride to attend, and spent six successful years in the private sector, in which I thought I knew what hard work was about. I won many awards, worked long hours, and embodied professionalism. If you believe the comment section, my transition to teaching was going to be a cake walk.
Holy (expletive). On my first day, the first student to walk into my room, called me every name in the book and threw her notebook at me. This occurred before I could say hello. It turned out she had been sexually and physically abused by a male family member and she couldn’t handle having a male teacher.
During that first year, I wasn’t given any text books, because apparently society doesn’t think we should fund text books. I had 100-plus sixth graders, more than half of which were labeled beginning readers. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
I have post master’s graduate work. I research my craft. In other words, I’m a highly skilled, highly educated professional. I had to pass three certification exams to do my job. A job that is much, much, much harder than my first career, or college, or graduate school, or anything else I’ve ever done in my life. I am a typical teacher.
So, if you want to step up and take the challenge, get great benefits, great pay, and all that time off, let me explain what to expect. You are going to take over for me. One week. Don’t worry. I don’t teach in those “bad” schools anymore. I have moved on “up” in the world. You will teach U.S. History to eighth graders at one of the “better” middle schools in Louisville, Kentucky.
Before starting your new job, please remember to have lessons planned for the entire week. You might want to cancel your weekend plans. When you enter the building in the morning, please make sure you are on time and at your morning post. Kids are to be in class by 7:40 a.m., but don’t worry, you have first-period planning, so just kindly ask kids to get to class on time and then retreat into your peaceful classroom. Don’t be offended if a kid or two tells you to (expletive) off. They don’t mean it.
Once in the classroom, you need to make sure your class and materials are prepped for the day. Did I mention you won’t have textbooks? Don’t worry, you have 50 minutes to get copies made. Did I mention there are only two working copiers in the building for a staff of nearly 60? Don’t worry about all those people walking in and out of your room, giving you stuff to do, asking you questions. You have 50 whole minutes to get ready.
Now about the kids. I know I said I teach at one of those “good” schools, but I hope I didn’t imply you could just assign some work and all students would sit and work quietly. You see, within each of my four social studies classes, I have students who are gifted and talented, advanced program, and some who can barely read. You’re going to have to address all their needs to ensure each one of them can pass the same assessment. Among these kids, some are very withdrawn, others won’t stop talking, some have pretty severe anxiety, while others are pretty angry much of the time. Some of the kids are so bubbly and excited about everything, while some will complain about everything. There are 30-35 in each class. Your job is to keep them all focused, on task, and learning. You may have to feed a kid or two, give them school materials (you pay for that), and be sure to instill all of those soft skills some kids aren’t getting at home.
Wait. I left something out. There is at least one child who needs your attention at all times. There is also a child you may not notice, but they also need your attention at all times. There is another child that will always have your attention. But don’t worry, you are a lucky one. You teach early American History, and only early American History, meaning you have just one course which to prep. Well, you do have this enrichment or intervention class, depending on the time of year. If it’s the intervention class, you will have about 25 low readers. Your job will be to get them closer to grade level. If it’s the enrichment class, you’ll have about 30 kids, of which your class was a second choice, and they really would prefer not to work, because it’s an ungraded class, and they are just so stressed and busy as it is.
So, lunch is at 11:06 and ends at 11:26. Yes, you have to take them to lunch and pick them up. Yes. That’s only 20 minutes for you to eat your lunch. Bathroom? Lunch would be a good time. Otherwise, good luck, I guess.
Don’t worry. It’s only Monday and the school day ends at 2:20 p.m. You’ll get the hang of this quick and you have so much time to work through what went well and what didn’t, that by Tuesday, you’d be a pro. But, you do have to grade the work, get ready for the next day, and you’ll probably be asked to sponsor a club, or coach a sport, so don’t make dinner plans. At all. All week. Really. No dinner plans. And plan to miss at least one of your kids’ games. I mean, your data is due Friday.
That grading stuff. Yeah, you may not want to assign an essay. Even if you spend only five minutes grading each child’s essay, you’re looking at about 10 hours of grading. You have 125 students, you know. And don’t plan on using technology. It will only work about half the time.
Excited yet? The parents will be excited to communicate with you. Some will think you’re a monster for giving their child a B on Tuesdays assignment, but don’t worry, it was your fault. Some you won’t hear from, despite your efforts, until the end of the school year. Lucky you, you have just over three hours of planning left during the week, but some of it will be taken by a meeting here or there. And you have a meeting after school on Tuesday.
I mean, by Friday, you will only had worked 35 hours. Well, contractually. You had all of that grading, that club you sponsored, lesson planning, and who knows what else has popped up. So, that is 35, plus 10-15, plus 2-3, carry the one – umm, don’t worry about. Just read the comments section to see how much you work.
I am so pumped you’d be doing this. See you Monday.
Oh, one last thing. Ignore those people trying to cut your benefits, retirement, and suppress your wages. You do it all for the kids, and that’s payment enough.