The Sin of Being a Teacher

Colorful-Crayon-FrameThe field of education is full of hypocrisy. Teachers are the worst of the hypocrites. I should know. I’ve been teaching for over a decade.

Lies I’ve heard over the years and what I’ve learned as a result:

Lie #1: Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.
I teach in a middle school, and a co-worker of mine posted this on her fb page regarding a particularly draining day:

Teaching today is like trying to get a cat to stand on one leg. While on a roller coaster. While it’s raining. And there are other cats around.”

Teaching is like leading an orchestra. Our job is to corral 30 different personalities into one harmonious sound. People outside the field of education just won’t understand the sinew and determination and patience that is involved in creating a melodious classroom where learning is evident, students are constantly engaged, and positive relationships are maintained.

Is every student capable of learning? Sure. Will they? Not in a million years. The biggest obstacles I see in my own classroom are an extreme epidemic of apathy toward education and a steadily increasing disrespect shown toward teachers, by both students and parents.

So, why do teachers stay in a profession that is overwhelmingly challenging and offers little more than intrinsic value? We stay in it for the summers, of course! Hold it.. just kidding. That’s just what everyone outside of education expects us to say. Ha! Sadly, more and more educators are turning away from their first love in search of something with less stress, or less personal time stolen outside the regular work day, or something that offers fair monetary compensation. But the truth is, most of us still enjoy it. We live for the moment when the light bulb flashes on for some students; we love the opportunity to be the day-time parent to some really great kids for a year. I just hope that the intrinsic values are enough to keep quality teachers in our schools.

Lie #2: We don’t “teach to the test.”
One word.

Liar.

Teachers are crushingly fearful of numbers. Good grief, our job security is directly tied to how well we can get our students to perform on standardized or district-driven tests. Or in many cases, both. In my world, we’re talking 13- and 14-year-olds. It’s a VERY. GOOD. THING they don’t know how much power they hold in their little hormone-driven hands. We work hard to motivate them, entertain them long enough to hold their attention, and gently challenge them without pushing them far enough that they give up. But if an educator tells you that she is strictly focused on creating life-long learners and that she thinks teaching to the test is a disgrace to the profession, then you call her on it. Tell her you’re throwin’ the flag. Either she’s of the unique population protected by the union or she’s a first year teacher. Either way, it’s not reality.

Lie #3: We’re offended at all the jokes about having summer and holidays off.
We pretend to be. But really, we love our time off. We have families and hobbies and a thousand other things that we deliberately ignore to great lengths during the school year because we’re so focused on loving our students and getting them to score highly on tests. We spend our summers and holidays making up for all that lost time, hugging our own little ones a little longer, finishing that book we started back in October, and getting down to the serious business of all the episodes of Downton Abbey we missed. We feel sorry for the professionals. SUCKAS!

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