The Truth About Teachers
The Truth About Teachers
As the end of summer draws near and the new school year sneaks up on us all too quickly, an anonymous local teacher was inspired to spill a few best-kept “company secrets.” Here, in her words, are a few truths about teachers that you should know.
We are human.
Seriously. Take us off of the school-bus-sized pedestal, throw away the apple earrings, and donate the puff-painted pencil-shaped tote, people. Today’s teacher is no different from you. Yes, we are role models for your children, and I am thankful to say that I have been surrounded by a majority of educators that you would be proud to have teaching your offspring. Yes, we have that pesky code of ethics we signed reminding us to watch our behavior and not to post those girls- night-out party pics on Facebook, but we are still human, still adults. We make mistakes. We lose our tempers, get speeding tickets, drink alcohol, get divorced, forget things, spell words wrong, curse, get tattoos, and shop without makeup. Our houses (and classrooms) are sometimes dirty. We are teachers by profession, but we are human just like you. There are few professions in which perfection is an expectation—unfortunately for us, teachers are in one. Too often, the harsh hand of judgment comes down stronger on teachers than anyone else.
This is one I'll bet we both share. You know you hate them too. You spend the day before frantically trying to remember what you signed up to bring. How many kids are in the class? Wait…that one girl is allergic to something, right? What is it? Do we attempt monogrammed goody bags like that one kid always brings? I’m a parent; I feel your pain. As a teacher, it is no better. All 20+ kids come rolling in that morning, parents not far behind, carrying their prized themed cupcakes as if they’re gold. You can see the students size up the competition on the back table, making sure their goody bags outdo everyone else’s. Parents do the same, only they're making sure they aren’t the only ones who forgot and picked up store-made cupcakes on the way to school this morning. After the sugar showdown, you’re out the door and off to grown-up land. We teachers are left in the room where the only things outnumbering the kids are the sugary treats they will consume in a few short hours. You get the picture here. We hate holiday parties.
Education is political.
I know many of you think teachers are glorified babysitters, that we have it easy. You loathe that we are off summers and weekends and for weeks at a time for the holidays. (Sub-truth here: Teachers HATE to be belittled because we have summers off. Don’t deflect your hot, cubicle-dwelling, jealous days of July onto us. We’re at the pool relaxing and have no time for your complaints.) Most of us spend those “summers off” creating new units, reading resource books, and participating in professional development. What you also may not realize is that alongside that cushy schedule comes a mountain of paperwork and the strong arm of the state—not vastly different from the corporate America where you may work. The stakeholders in education (you included), do not give an inch of leeway when it comes to accountability for the future of our society. Our successes and failures are directly determined by the successes and failures of our students, no matter how hard we’ve worked all year. We have deadlines every spring in the form of standardized tests, while our paychecks are waved over our heads in return for “progress.” Believe me, I wish we could spend our days sitting on the rug teaching your children the basics. The truth? We are hounded in meetings, overwhelmed with paperwork, and your children are pounded with assessments more often than you’d ever wish to know. Education is political, and the pressure and stress placed on teachers has never been higher.
We know about the skeletons in your closet.
Remember that Bill Cosby show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”? Well, it’s true, and who do they say it to? Their teachers. I have the pleasure of eating lunch with 18 children every day, and believe me, they dish it out. I know about your vacations, your fights, and your dinner the night before. I hear about the good stuff—the new siblings, the trip to Six Flags, the movie you saw over the weekend, and the egg hunt at church. I also hear the other stuff—stuff you may not even know about—the R-rated movie they watched with an older brother that's now giving them nightmares, the dad who breaks their heart by never calling, and the cops who were called to your house over the weekend. There’s no way around this, parents. It’s what happens when your children feel safe and comfortable enough with their teachers to hold nothing back. It’s true what they say about us being more than just teachers. We are counselors as well, and honestly, it's one of the best parts about my job. Just remember next time we bump into each other at Kroger, I know a lot more than you may realize!
We love your children.
Think about how many hours a day you see your school-aged children. In between school and bedtime you get what—three, four hours? We have your children twice as long as you do. The final truth of it all is….we love them. Nothing keeps a teacher coming back every day, year after year, more than the pure love we have for your children. Not the “summers off,” not the holiday breaks, and certainly not the pay. It’s the love we have for your kids. Is it tough love at times? Yes. Is it hard to love them every day? Absolutely. You share those same sentiments, right? I know there have been years when you have disliked your kid’s teacher, maybe even with reason. I’d bet money that the same teacher wasn’t a huge fan of yours. The truth about teaching is it’s not about me, or you…we are doing this for our children. I love them, and you love them, and we will all survive this upcoming school year together. So hurry out to the store, load up on supplies that will last your kid until December (if they’re lucky), and let’s all lift a glass (of wine) to a great year!