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