When it came to choosing my profession, I kind of fell into teaching. It wasn’t my first choice but I was happy with going to University and taking on further study. My first teaching job was at a set-up school in Sydney West. This was one of my best experiences and a time that I look back on fondly.
Over the years, I have had to cope with the continued barbs: “Hey you have so many holidays.” “Maybe you might like to take on a job with real hours.” Today I want to tell you what it is really like in the teaching world.
I don’t have the luxury of going to the bathroom when I feel like it. My bladder has to fit in with the bell times. My lunch breaks are often spent sharing my time with other peoples’ kids, not my own. Those Holidays you so kindly speak of, well they are for marking papers, catching up on the huge amounts of paperwork and cleaning my house that has gone to ruin through the term.
You see for me, although I might have run in after run in with students who feel like my word isn’t good enough, I also have those kids who make my day. They don’t come often these days I might tell you, but these are the students who say: “Morning Miss. How was your weekend?” “Thanks Miss for always caring.” or “”I am so grateful for all you have done for me.”
Today, I find myself tired – tired of having to come up against kids who have no respect for me or my care and concern. There are only so many times in a class I can play Aretha Franklin’s “RESPECT.” Today, after over 25 years of the teaching game, I find myself asking myself: “Why am I keep doing this?”
I saw an article referring to the recent shootings in America. There was a teacher who put himself in harm’s way to protect his students. We might not have guns in Australia, but every day I feel like I try to protect – protect the kids from the bullies and protect myself from feeling like a failure, sometimes taking on the role as nurturer for the kids that are not my own and mostly, looking after the mental health of the kids in my care. These days it isn’t just about the academics, it is about adjusting numerous tasks for those struggling. It is about keeping the kids safe in my care.
SO, the next time you say to a teacher: “Hey you get stacks of holidays, must be nice!” – remember they spend most nights and weekends marking and planning, holidays catching up on Google classroom and preparing for the next term and finally getting their house back after it has gone to ruin throughout the school term.
When you have Parent/Teacher night, maybe you should thank the teacher for their care and concern and hard work. Things like that will keep people like me in the teaching game longer.