For my #teacherpc2019 Day 3, I had many positive experiences with students to sift through when determining what to share today. It's possible that some of these will be the focus of future posts. However, as I reflected on my interactions with staff in the same day, I decided that what really makes May #aMAYzing is the teachers and staff who show up every day to do a difficult and often misunderstood job. Teachers and school staff, in my opinion, are truly America's unsung heroes. To fully understand the magnitude of their superpowers, you would have to step into their shoes for a day. I'm pretty sure that many non-educators wouldn't be able to hack it for even 60 minutes. To give you some insight, here are a few things that public school teachers and staff experience on a daily basis:
1. Physical and verbal assault by students. For example, just yesterday I am aware of three instances of students in my school having outbursts that had the potential for physical injury to staff. In two of these instances students threw shoes. In one instance, a student threw a chair. They missed on all three occasions. Keep in mind, these are only the instances that came to my attention. Most likely there were other incidents on that same day. Additionally, on a daily basis teachers are insulted and disrespected by students. For perspective, imagine yourself in your non-education work setting having shoes thrown at you twice and a chair flung across the room, all in one day. Imagine being called stupid, having people shout, "No!" at you when you make a request or having people blatantly refuse to do what you've asked them to do. Yep, that's teacher life.
2. Having to sacrifice teaching time at the altar of state testing. UGH. Just UGH. It is so disheartening how much time in the classroom is taken up with testing. (NOTE: More testing is not equal to higher achievement.) Especially during the 4th quarter of school, our students are taking tests easily as much or more than they are engaging in learning experiences. This is difficult and draining to teachers who would actually (this should come as no surprise) rather be TEACHING!
3. Guilt. Teacher guilt is a thing. It's a very insidious thing. What is teacher guilt? Well, it has many manifestations. First of all, it's the guilt that teachers feel when they feel like they are never able to do their job well or keep up with the myriad of demands placed upon them by federal and state government regulations, district requirements, etc. With more and more heaped on their plates and nothing taken off, teachers strain under this constant burden. Another common circumstance that elicits teacher guilt is when a teacher is sick OR (gasp!) when a teacher is planning to take a personal day off from work. Unlike most jobs where you can have a sick day or a personal day off and the work is waiting when you return, a teacher has to write lesson plans so that someone else can do their work for the day. This already tedious task is compounded by worries about how students will behave for the substitute. Just this week, I had two separate conversations with teachers who were in these situations. Instead of being able to focus on taking care of their own health issues or enjoying a planned personal day, their minds could not let go of worries about what would happen in their absence. This is very stressful.
This list could go on. I'll leave it here for now. I just want to go on record to say that one thing that really makes MAY (and every other month from August-April) #aMAYzing is the incredible FACT that teachers show up to do this very difficult job day after day. School administrators should be on their knees every morning in gratitude for their teachers showing up to work. Teachers are superheroes. Don't ever let anyone convince you to think otherwise.