There is a lot of talk in the media lately about our education system. Much of it places the blame on teachers. However, the last couple of weeks in my classroom have been eye-opening, and I wish I could invite the critics into my world.
That world demands I work overtime, by MANY hours, every week–without compensation. If I divided my salary by the amount of hours I average during a semester, bus drivers and janitors make more than I do–though I have a Master’s degree.
That world demands I fulfill multiple roles for a variety of students at any one time: mother, father, teacher, friend, coach, counselor, janitor, mentor, nurse, chef, advocate, warden, babysitter, tissue….. And that’s once I’ve figured out what my 120 or so students need on any given day!
That world demands that I have a certain amount of education, yet not be recognized as a professional in regards as to what is best for my students. In other words, I hold most of the weight of the consequences, and yet little influence over the politics that determine those consequences.
That world demands that I never complete a to-do list. The hours of planning each week only lead to hours of grading. The hours of grading only lead to differentiation to best help students with their individual needs. This is not to mention the redundancy of standardized assessments I am made to give. Over and over the cycle repeats, though with very little compensation. Over 90% of these requirements cannot happen during the school day, on the clock, because during those fleeting hours I am in meetings, helping students, or fulfilling other duties.
I have noticed this so much as of lately. I am blessed to have an amazing student teacher with me every day, all day. Each day, we strive to accomplish the duties of one teacher: planning, instructing, assessing, giving feedback, revising the next day’s lessons accordingly, and most importantly connecting with as many students as possible. What is overwhelmingly obvious is that even with two of me, we are not enough. My student teacher takes over for the next three days, and I am out of the classroom completely. I am looking so forward to it, because I can finally plan some lessons, some small group instruction, some assignments, and grade some current assignments. Did I just say that? I am actually looking forward to work, so that I can accomplish work? It is so backwards, and yet it is the depressing essence of a teacher’s reality. I acknowledge that at times I am unmotivated or disorganized and so don’t accomplish much; however for the most part, I am working as hard and efficiently as I can on a daily basis, and so is my student teacher, and yet we still cannot manage the many facets of our ONE job.
This is a crime. So many teachers give everything to influence the lives of their students. Yet they are robbed. I guarantee you that once this country invests more in teachers, the education system will improve. The American public thinks we’re valuable? Prove it. Make our jobs more manageable, pay us more, compensate us for overtime, recognize our education and professionalism, honor us as artists. The American public is willing to pay millions for entertainment that lasts but a moment; why not education which is an eternal forming influence?
Happy teachers support students and for make successful schools. Frustrated and over-worked teachers…well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.