Saturday, May 11, 2013

Being a Teacher in 2013


Hello Everyone,
The Twelveth is Mother's Day, and I want to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day.  Today, I want to dedicate my blog to teachers, and I know many of you are mothers, so I hope your day is special.

Today, I invited a teacher, Melissa, to blog about being a teacher in this day and age.  Teachers are told they make too much money and don't do enough to teach the children in their classes, so I'm hoping this blog will be an eye-opener for some of you. 
Melissa makes less than $45,000.00 a year after working in her school for twenty years.  The floor is yours Melissa.  Let's educate some of these people who may be willing to listen. 
 

Being a Teacher in 2013-
When I was growing up, I lived within bike distance of my grandparents and saw them every week. We went to church each Sunday and I knew everyone who lived on my street. I could play outside until way after dark and didn’t worry about getting in trouble. Teachers were respected. If you didn’t do what they said, you got paddled or detention and got it again when you went home and your parents found out.

Today teaching is different. I’m speaking in generalized terms. I understand that there are a lot of different situations out there. But I want to speak from what I’ve experienced as a teacher for the last twenty years.
School is a service industry today. Parents have the option in many places to select a school of choice. They can decide where they want their children to go as long as there’s room. Schools earn money for each student so more students equals more money. Teachers are only as good as their students’ test scores or performances. Children with learning or developmental delays are mainstreamed in the regular education classroom for the benefit of all students. Most of the students belong to two working parent families and spend a long day with before and after school care. Evenings they participate in karate, soccer, dance, and piano. Our society has changed and most children don’t play outside using their imaginations but sit in front of video games or movies. They aren’t read to and some don’t even have books in their homes. Church and neighborhoods are distanced from families as our busy lives take over our time. All of these things lead to the state of teaching in 2013.

Teachers must please not only the students, but the parents and the administration. We work to establish positive relationships with our students’ families, making ourselves available evenings and weekends to their questions or concerns. A teacher doesn’t want to have a family leave because of them. It would be held against their job performance. Most schools have a curriculum based on the state or national standards, yet teachers feel the need to teach to the test so that students’ performances are at the optimal level, or else face the loss of their salary or their job. Even some teachers have been found cheating because of this.

In the classroom with inclusion, students may be at so many different learning levels. Each child must have a differentiated lesson based on where they are and their learning style. So a teacher must plan muliple lesson plans for each concept. Small groups are pulled for optimal learning, and students who are struggling can be missed if they don’t speak up. Not only do teachers teach math, reading, writing, science and social studies but we must teach the hidden curriculum of how to get along with others, manners and procedures. These concepts used to be taught in church or your extended family but with so many children living in isolation in front of the TV, they miss out on how to negotiate differences or accept no for an answer.
Punishment is a thing of the past. Teachers can’t take away a child’s recess or keep them after school any more. With children in daycare or busing situations, parents aren’t able to pick children up. Administration has also set down regulations about this because if a parent is upset, they might leave and that means the money walks too. Teachers are sued because they make a child stay back on a field trip because the parents didn’t bring the carseat which is a law. The thinking at schools is CYA (cover you’re a$$) and make everyone happy. So if there are no consequences for the behavior, then the behavior persists and the teacher loses respect.

All of these things have caused a huge change in education, yet I don’t have the answers to correct the situation. A big part of it has to come from changing society and that’s nearly impossible. Teaching shouldn’t be a service industry where people complain if their child isn’t doing the work or learning. As another teacher used to say, “I can lead the horse to water, but I can’t make him drink.” Some days I do a huge song and dance to get students engaged. I write letters to my students all summer long and spend a large amount of my own money to get things for my students and classroom. My evenings and weekends are consumed working on lessons and keeping data on my students’ learning. I’m a highly requested teacher because of all the things I do for my families. I love my students. I adore being a teacher because of the kids. I’m willing to put my life on the line for my students. Yet, I’ve had a student come at with me with a downspout from off the building and throw a chair at another student. I’ve been bitten and hit. I’ve had parents threaten my life. Teaching isn’t the easy job people think it is. It has changed and not for the better.

Melissa, I have heard horror stories from other teachers besides yourself and even from substitute teachers.  One teacher friend in my area retired early because a student stabbed her with a pencil (20 years ago or more), and this student and their friends made my friend fear for her life.  A substitute  high school teacher, I know quit because the students didn't listen, or respect her.  The students didn't respect each other and the girls called each other 'Ho's.  The boys laughed and horseplayed around in class.
Thank you for being with me today, Melissa.  I hope some day our teachers can be educators again instead of babysitters.

Okay, folks, have a great week, and I'll see you next weekend. 
Sandra K. Marshall
http://www.eirelander-publishing.com

22 comments:

Melissa Keir said...

Thanks for letting me share. This week was National Teacher Appreciation week. We received a nice lunch and many special snacks during the week, but our retirement benefits are still non-existent. Yes, you heard me. I have NO retirement plan, no 401k other than what I do, while I do have a nice health package and life insurance for as long as I'm teaching.

Carol Ericson said...

Thanks for all you do, Melissa. I have two boys in high school, and we're very lucky because we have a small school district and the parents and community are very involved with the school. Wow, no pension plan? That's not the case in Calif where teachers get very good pensions.

Melissa Keir said...

Thanks Carol. It is very different depending on the school you are with. I'm with a public charter school which has to follow many of the rules of the state but not all.

Sandy said...

I want to thank you for all you do, Melissa. We have grandchildren in public school.

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment, Carol.

Cara Marsi said...

Melissa, I salute you and all teachers. Teachers are essential to our society. I feel they're underpaid. If anyone deserves a big raise, it's teachers. Yet, they don't get respect as you so eloquently pointed out. It's a sad commentary on our society. Keep up the good work.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you Sandy and Cara. It isn't just teachers but police and firefighters too. I know Detroit's firefighters are working on next to nothing. They even had to buy their own toilet paper! :)

Sandy said...

Cara, I have a friend in Wisconsin who said she has a teacher friend who is paid $100,000 a year, and she thinks they get paid too much. It's different everywhere.

Melissa, I agree about the police and firefighters. Toilet paper: you've got to be kidding.

Rachel Moore said...

Hi Melissa. Being a teacher today is VERY different from when I was in school back in the 60s. (Trying not to reveal my age too much here. . . lol) One thing I have been here is that we have more students in public schools now that have disabilities. I am a person with a disability, and when I was in school, it was almost unheard of for a person with a disability to go to public schools. I was definitely a minority. Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

Melissa Keir said...

I understand about mainstreaming children with disabilities. There are benefits for both sets of children, however, many do not qualify for special help and then teachers have to do it all. I have in my classroom students who are gifted thru students with learning disabilities. I even have one with asperger's who can be violent when he doesn't get his way. It has been hard to teach when he needs my attention.

Rita Bay said...

Hi Melissa, As a retired educator and school system administrator, I observed a vast change in the expectations for teachers over my two+ decades in education. With inclusion mandating the placement of advanced and special needs students in the same classroom, I don't see how you do it. Frustrating for everyone, effective for almost no one. Then there are all the new requirements and the demands of parents and administrators.
Not surprising that many of the top new teachers who can leave are gone within three years, leaving dedicated educators to try their best and others to collect their paychecks. Thank you for your dedication and sticking it out. You do make a difference. Rita

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming by Rachel and Rita. The more we can shine a light on this problem the better.

Virginia Kelly said...

Wow! My husband taught middle school for too many years to count. He repeated “I can lead the horse to water, but I can’t make him drink” SO many times. Yes, teaching has changed. It's not a profession for the weak of heart or for the mild and meek. In many instances, it's warfare. I teach at a two year college. Those children you and my husband teach are now my students and, unfortunately, I'm seeing the same sort of problems in young adults.

As parents, we always took the word of the teacher. If a teacher told us one of our children was misbehaving or not working to potential, we believed them. The reverse is true now. Parents blame teachers, when all too often, it's the home environment (that absence of reading, of speaking correctly, of motivation, of all those social ills that are too common in our society) that's causing the problems.

Teaching is a service profession and has to be a passion. Too many people assume that it's easy, that you get summers off, etc. But if you add in all that extra time grading, planning, just plain old fashioned working your b*tt off, a teacher has more than worked 12 months.

Thanks for sharing this. And thank you for teaching.

Sandy said...

Thanks for coming by Virginia. Most people don't know the half of what teachers do. I appreciate your comments.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you Rita and Virginia. Teachers never really go away. I find that even when I'm done teaching, I'm still teaching just out in the world, rather than my classroom.

Teaching isn't for the faint of heart. We are still in the trenches fighting but society wants the quick answers now. Band-aids are being put on big problems. They want learning measured.

Virginia, I have another friend who is teaching at the college level in Canada and says the same thing. The children aren't any more self-learners (again a generalization) than the toddlers are. :)

All the best!

K.T. Bishop said...

Teachers have received their due for educating people.

Sandy said...

Really, K.T., I don't know what you mean. Are you saying they make enough for all the hours they put in? If so, you didn't read the whole blog.

Melissa Keir said...

Each situation is different. I don't have a union at my school, so we are at will employees. I can walk into school tomorrow and find myself out of a job. Not only do I have to teach students but I have to keep parents, administration and the government happy. All of this to have American students compete with foreign countries where teachers are treated with more respect than here.

K.T. Bishop said...

Sorry, I meant they don't get enough credit for educating people. My three favorite teachers are the reason for my success

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you KT. What made them your favorite teachers?

K.T. Bishop said...

they believed in me and always thought I had talent

Sandy said...

Thank you for explaining, K.T.

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you again everyone for your comments. I can only talk about my experience as a teacher at a public charter school in Michigan. We have a unique situation as far as pay and benefits, but I wanted to point out that many of the issues faced are ones that each teacher deals with.

I also wanted people to know that there are so many teachers who make do with so much less than that $100,000 year salary and lifetime benefits, yet still get up and do the job of their heart each day!