This is my first blog post (yay, so exciting!), so I might as well address the uninformed, irritating-borderline-maddening, all-too-frequently posed questions and comments that I, along with every other teacher who aspires to be great, gets asked. Let’s get it OVER WITH!
“Why do you want to be a teacher? You’re wasting your talents…”
“Why would you ever want to teach middle schoolers? God bless you…”
“Are you doing it just for the vacations? I wish I had three month off of work…”
“Don’t you wish you earned more money?”
I’m sure that there are many other teachers out there who have mulled over these same questions (for some reason, teachers in particular seem to love making blogs) while trying to stay positive, relaxed, and maybe sane.
Without sounding like I’m on a soapbox, I’d like to address these questions politely but emphatically:
- “Why do you want to be a teacher? You’re wasting your talents…” I want to be a teacher because I enjoy helping others, making a difference in people’s lives, and working with children. I also happen to believe that I am good at it. As to the snide “wasting your talents” comment, anyone who is a teacher or is friends with a teacher knows it’s crazy that something as ridiculous as this has ever been uttered! For this mini-lesson here, I’d like to activate your background knowledge by sending you to this essay, which was written by a man named Dennis Hong. Once upon a time, Mr. Hong was a molecular biologist. Now, he’s a teacher. See? I told you, teachers ❤ blogs. Anyway, I found this essay while perusing Diane Ravitch’s blog, which you can also find here. Ms. Ravitch is a renowned educational policy analyst and professor of education at New York University. She also served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. She’s a pretty smart lady.
Anyway, the bottom line is that it takes incredible talent to teach. You know the expression “everyone can teach?” It’s true. Everyone can teach. But only a select few can teach well. Teaching well requires a rare combination of altruism, positivity, intelligence, patience, and flexibility. From what I’ve observed and experienced thus far, good teachers would make fantastic employees for just about any company that I can think of. Also, think back to all the teachers you had when you were young. I’m willing to bet that there was at least one teacher you connected with, who encouraged you to reach your potential, who made it clear through their dedication and investment that they would never give up on you.
So, please don’t tell me I’m wasting my talents! That’s insulting!
2. “Why would you ever want to teach middle schoolers? God bless you…” Again, please stop patronizing me! I love working with students in middle school because they are fun, precocious, eager & energetic, impressionable, inspirational, interesting, personable, painfully honest, funny, intelligent, and above all else, anything but BORING.
Working with middle schoolers keeps me on my toes and brings joy to my life. So I don’t need God’s blessings or anybody else’s!
3. “Are you doing it just for the vacations? I wish I had three month off of work…” This is another one of the Great Myths About Teaching. People often forget just how much work teachers do outside of the classroom (ie. grading, planning, attending department meetings, decorating classrooms, taking part in school activities & clubs, etc). Summer vacation is probably the most commonly-cited, yet erroneous piece of evidence put forth to support the argument that “teaching is a piece of cake.”
First of all, most (if not all) teachers do NOT spend their entire summer vacations sitting on their laurels watching TV, going on luxurious cruises, or partying with their friends. In fact, many teachers have to work a second job during the summer just to pay the bills! It’s a known fact that teachers are underpaid. Don’t believe me? Here. I’m not going to gripe over this because I am obviously not here for the money. But, it’s worth mentioning.
Furthermore, teachers also spend a significant amount of time (and money) planning for the upcoming year, buying school supplies, finding new posters and materials to enrich their classroom, and adjusting their curriculum. Many schools require teachers to attend professional development (PD) over the summer. Sometimes we get paid for this, sometimes we don’t.
Lastly, I think it is important to mention that, per IDEA, (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), schools sometimes have to hold IEP meetings (Individualized Education Plans) for students with special needs and disabilities over the summer. Therefore, content-area teachers, such as me, are required to attend these meetings even if they are scheduled during the trip to the beach that was planned back in April.
4. “Don’t you wish you earned more money?” Of course I wish teachers were better compensated for their professional skills, hard work, and dedication. But, as I said before, I wouldn’t be here if it were about the money.
And that’s a wrap! My very first blog post! Also, now that I’ve gotten them off of my chest, I promise I won’t harp about questions like these in the future. Well, no promises. But I’ll do my best 🙂
November 5, 2016