Is it just my Facebook feed (because I am a retired teacher) or is everyone’s lighting up during this time of #stayhome #staysafe homeschooling with parents expressing the admiration for teachers and their frustration with homeschooling? I sure get a giggle out of them.
This was one of the first memes I saw back in March 2020 when many schools first closed.
I feel like it’s time to really take a close examination of the state of teaching in our country. I have a special interest in helping the teaching profession flourish. After 32 years of teaching, a job I loved and gave everything I could: my time, my money, and my heart. In the end, I found that I sacrificed too much of myself, taking from my physical and mental well-being and impacting my family. I developed Fibromyalgia due impart to the stress of the job and had to leave before I had intended because I just couldn’t give my students the quality of teaching they deserve. I would like to ask that our society looks at what we’re expecting from our teachers and what we’re giving them in recompense.
Many will mention the pay disparity between teachers who have Master+ degrees with CEUs (Continuing Education Units), college classes, and professional development training and similarly-educated professions. My husband and I started our professions around the same time in the late 1980s. He had a wildlife management BS degree, and I had a double-major BA with my Michigan teaching certificate. We started out with similar salaries; he was maybe $5,000 or so ahead. I remember comparing our salaries about 15 years in and I was then earning about $15,000 less than he was. By the time he and I retired, he was making at least $30,000 more than me! I’ll give him that he had ongoing training courses during those years, but so did I. He also had five weeks of vacation and never, never had work he had to do at home.
Seriously, none of us would have the livelihood we have without the guided learning we have had from teachers. This is part of the problem. The fact that we’ve all been students at some point in our lives makes everyone feel like they already know what it means to teach. From our memories, it looks like a pretty cake job. Teachers only work kid-hours- 7 hours Monday through Friday with sweet time off throughout the school year for vacations and then, of course, the mother of vacation, SUMMER BREAK!
And while teachers would not pass up a decent pay raise to mirror the level of education that they are required to have, most would probably say that they just want to do their jobs without all the extra stresses that have been piled on by ever-tightening budgets, unrealistic expectations, non-educators making uninformed decisions for what school should be, and the overall loss of respect for the profession in our country.
While schools are physically closed and are working on delivering some virtual learning, many of us are realizing that teaching is much more than the time spent with students. It becomes very obvious that while students are present, teachers aren’t doing planning, grading, further learning, etc. What might not be understood is the many hats a teacher is expected to have: counselor, social worker, curriculum creator, psychologist, doctor, parent, trainer, newsletter writer, fundraiser, social planner, janitor, room designer, purchaser of needed materials for students and the classroom, life-skills developer, detective, scientist, accountants, etc. Teachers are expected to fill in the gap for the underfunded program demands.
I have a teacher friend who helped create the online curriculum for her grade-level. She has three at home she’s helping to homeschool with the online lessons their teachers are providing. She’s helping fellow teachers with their tech questions. She’s spending time connecting with students individually to help them with what they need. In the first weeks of distance-teaching, she’s feeling the stress more than when she was in class. Another teacher friend spent 20 hours working to get a hold of each of her students to make sure they knew how to access and use the learning opportunities she’s creating.
But teachers do this trade because they love supporting and nurturing their students. In my experience, teachers have the highest expectations for themselves. In a recent Facebook post that’s now gone viral, one parent shows the love and connection between teacher and student.
And so, I ask that if you know a teacher, send a positive word. And then, after this pandemic is passed, let’s show our appreciation to those who nurture our countries most precious commodity. As we have learned through this time, our children are not programmable. They need more than a screen and access to information to grow into caring, intelligent, creative, problem-solving humans. And parents need partners in this endeavor. That is what teachers do. Let’s give them the support they need and deserve.
Do you have any teacher stories you would like to share? In what ways do you think this time will impact education? Educators, I’d like to get some personal stories. If you are willing, I have a survey you can fill out as much or as little as you’d like: Teacher Stress Survey
Thank you for visiting my blog. I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays. However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned. Thank you for your understanding.
In celebration for moving to the next level with a new website, I am giving away a free eBook that I created on Massage and Myofacial Release.
Click on link below to get a download of my free new eBook (available through 11/1/2020)