Teaching and the American Culture

“Why do I always have the feeling that everybody’s doing something better than me on Saturday afternoons?” – Jerry Seinfeld

Teaching is a thankless job they say.  I say the opposite is true, at times.  Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there and if you ever get a chance to work with a great staff it makes coming to work so much easier.  It’s also nice when your students appreciate you and value you not only as a teacher but also as a person. There are many perks to teaching such as summer vacation, a week off here and there, and the many smiles you get every day when a student suddenly understands something.  The most rewarding thing for myself is when a student has personally written a letter to me thanking me for my guidance and commitment to their education.

At times, however, teaching can be a nightmare.  Those summers “off” can be spent lesson planning, attending professional development, or working a part-time job to make ends meet. At times, your principal can target you for minor infractions and micromanage you if they see you aren’t teaching to the standards that they see fit.  Your co-workers could also be in co-hoots with administration and when they “see something, they say something”; meaning anything that goes against the administration.  When you do report something or simply speak to a union rep your words could be twisted and you may be the target of a smear campaign against you.

The American culture and our views on teachers have created an atmosphere of hostility.  We are not valuing our teachers anymore and the sacrifices we make everyday.  There are times when I do not spend enough time with my child (pre-school age), where instead of playing together or taking her to the park, I am lesson planning.  Even worse, I end up snapping at her because of my lack of patience due to the stresses of the job.  My social life is non-existent and I have retreated to sitting at my desk on my days off catching up on grading or inputting a new protocol that is being thrust upon me.

I am not here to have you feel sorry for me, but I think it’s time to start respecting teachers again.  There are a lot of factors going on in these buildings and districts that no one tells you about.  The bureaucracy is overwhelming and the collusion is sickening.  It has created a smaller retention rate of effective teachers.  We need to take care of our teachers and realize that we need to be looked after also before teacher burnout reaches them.

 

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