Friday, August 28, 2015

You should be so lucky: in defense of teachers

Few things get my dander up as quickly and as thoroughly as that old chestnut that people like to pull out during those awkward pauses in polite social conversations:

"Sooo, a teacher, huh? Is it true what they say, that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach?"

And tittering abounds.


I have been privileged in my life to spend a lot of time in the company of teachers. I know everyone likes to make the caveat that there ARE bad teachers out there, but in fourteen years in the business (so to speak) I have never met one of them. The teachers I have met are passionate about what they do. No one goes into teaching to "make the big bucks." People become teachers because they believe in education. They believe that investments made in children's lives in the early years pay back societal dividends for the rest of their lives. They believe that teaching a child how to think, how to learn, how to problem-solve will make a difference in how that child thinks, learns and deals with problems for the rest of their lives. They are in that classroom every day armed with the determination and dedication to give your child the tools for success. In spite of themselves, sometimes.

And it's not just the hours in the classroom either. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a teacher's life is a cushy one-- out at 3:00pm and off all summer. Heavens no! Those hours in the classroom are enabled only by hours in the evenings, weekends and all summer; preparing, learning, dreaming, problem-solving and exploring. Not to mention all the diplomatic negotiations going on to keep parents involved, informed and pacified. These teachers eat, sleep and dream their job. You get a group of teachers in a room together on a weekend, put a couple of beers in their hands, what do you think they're talking about halfway through the first bottle? Sports? No. Politics? Maybe. The senior class this year? Definitely. The best use of technology in the classroom? Absolutely. Strategies for engaging the kids in a difficult novel or scientific study? Every time.

Some people like to complain about the "benefits" that teachers get. Retirement. Healthcare. Etc. You know why those things are important for teachers? I'll tell you why. You know how it feels at the end of the summer when your two, maybe three, maybe four children are starting to get a little antsy, kind of bored with the "freedom" of summer vacation? That tense feeling of "can I make it two more weeks till they go back to school???" Yes. That right there. That's why teachers ought to get good retirement benefits and decent healthcare. Because they are WORTH IT. Because are you ready to do their job?

And you know what else? They love it. They do it because they are awesome at it and because they love it (and because they're crazy) and because they love your kid, too. Can you believe that? They do. Your child walks into that teacher's classroom the first day of school and finds a place in their heart. Boom. Just like that. And these amazing people are going to be praying for your child, talking to your child, thinking about his or her needs, working with you to guide that child through the year. And then at the end of the year or the next, that kid is moving on to the next group of teachers and another highly educated, passionate, motivated, interested and loving adult is going to pour themselves into your child for another year.

And so on.

I say let's start a new chestnut. Try this out:

"Those who can't teach send their children, the hope of the future, their pride and joy, to spend eight hours every day, five days a week, to be educated in the art of human knowledge, behavior and accomplishment by those who CAN!!"

That's the truth.

You should BE so lucky.


Polly said...

Hear, hear!!!

Crystal said...

You said it! It's frustrating when people imply Joe has it easy because he has the summertime off. Hah! There is always planning, training, workshops, etc. that have to be taken care of during the summer, and even more so since he's a coach.😁

Unknown said...

I like your speals. You write the same way you talk.