Friday, February 3, 2012

Teaching is...HARD!

Sorry.  It's true.

Yes, it's rewarding.  Yes, I love my job.  But that doesn't mean it's easy and that there aren't days I go home worried about a student, worried about if I'm doing enough, or too much or just the right amount for these kids.  And yes, I know that this is true in many jobs.  But it is not true in many jobs that what you do or don't do on any given day could adversely affect a child for the rest of their life. 

This post comes from a conversation I had last night about how under-valued and not respected teachers are in terms of being a professional (i.e. MANY years of college, many years of observations etc and most of all lots of money and time invested to get to where we are today!)  It is beyond frustrating to hear people call us "glorified baby-sitters" or to say we don't deserve higher salaries-because trust me-NEITHER is true.  I make enough money to love comfortably but when you consider the offset of what my education and years of training cost me my salary is not even comparable.  You never hear people say that doctors are just "glorified boo-boo fixers".  And really for me the money is not the biggest issue-it's the lack of respect that burns me up. 

I'm not "just a teacher".  To some of these kids I'm a parent.  I'm a cheerleader.  I'm a motivational speaker.  In many instances (far too many with each passing year) I am these children's moral compass.  The one that teaches them that yes, life isn't always fair and no, we can't always do and say what we want when we want.  Someone has to teach them to share, to be kind to their friends, to be respectful of adults and their peers and the world in general.  Mind you that is all added into all of the content and skills we are expected to teach them.  You know reading and math.  Because that's not a big deal.  I feel like I'm whining or ranting or both but the more I have thought about this topic the more upset it has made me.

Let me finish out this post on a positive note.  I am certainly not down on my profession.  I love teaching and I love my kids.  I love the fact that my whole room cheered this morning when they announced it was corn dog day in the cafeteria.  I love that one of my students who has been struggling all year really stepped up this week and displayed, more important to me than excellent reading skills, the ability to be a good friend to a new student who was scared and anxious about coming to our school.  To see him pat that little boy on the back and proudly declare that he was "my friend" was very rewarding.  And those are the moments that make all the challenging ones so very worth it.

So, to be oh so cliche-Thank a teacher!  Not to sound overly narcissistic but we deserve it and sometimes, we need to hear it.

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