After an extremely tense parent conference, a very dedicated teacher, and colleague of mine told me that nugget of information. This teacher was not joking. This engaging, passionate, veteran, strong, fearless educator was making a statement.
The message in my colleague’s statement is this: teaching is fucking hard. It is akin to manual labor — it is repetitive, mind-numbing, frustrating, and it makes one’s body and mind ache. So why not dump teaching and get paid more in another profession without the same type of stress?
This colleague explained the stress of teaching so well when she told me:
“Teaching is fucking hard with, most days, no immediate, measurable end product. You hope and pray you made a difference. You are criticized and demoralized with little support from those above you. There is a sense of satisfaction in seeing a job completed….of safely taking a load from point A to point B. There is a finish line. Teaching does not always have that end product. We cry and stress over if we are doing enough- if we can do more; how can we make our students see the light? But, generally, there is still not a complete end product. There are very few cathartic moments in teaching anymore. There is very little peace and solitude.”
Although many days are rewarding, most days are work. However, teaching is a profession wrought with many people who confidently believe that they know exactly what the job is all about. After a few beverages, one of my closest friends and I inevitably turn our conversations back to our teaching. She often says: “The issue in education is that everyone has been a student, but not everyone has been a teacher.” Yup. Seeing education from both sides of the desk is so enlightening. When I teach education classes at the college level, I often begin the semester with that quote. After students dissect the words to make meaning for themselves, I tell them that the course will give them a window into the other side of the desk. By studying education, they begin the transition from student to teacher.
Many parents, politicians, tax-payers, and even the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, have never “viewed” the other side the desk. They have never walked even a step in a teacher’s sensible shoes. And yet, many in the above-mentioned groups make generalizations, accusations, and support policies that impact the climate of classrooms across America.
So, how do we change this conversation? How do we help more stakeholders appreciate the challenges of one of the greatest professions? I welcome your ideas, suggestions, and writings. Please respond here on medium, or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/teachingintrumpsamerica/?notif_t=page_invite_accepted¬if_id=1489113782231644