And Yet, the Teacher Must Teach

Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach.  How many of you have heard this statement before?  I have…and quite frankly I find it downright disrespectful.  What’s interesting is I think that there are some people who truly believe it.  In fact, I’ve met some.  They are people who left corporate America for various reasons to teach or people who aren’t quite sure what they want to do in life so they decide to teach or maybe they just “love kids”.

It’s amazing to me how little importance we put on a profession that makes all other professions possible. Teachers are the only people who are not off when they’re off.  They work 7 days a week.  There are phone calls to be made, emails to be returned, papers to grade, lesson plans to write, meetings to attend, paperwork to complete.  And let’s not forget…the teacher must teach.

During the school day, we not only serve as teacher, but as parent, nurse, social worker, referee, psychiatrist, and counselor.   If we’re fortunate, we have to manage between 20-30 young people at one time while keeping them engaged.  Yet, the teacher must teach.

Many students report to school with their own baggage, they’re thinking about their next meal, or the fact that their homeless, or the shooting that happened in their neighborhood last night.   Some children who report to school angry and it manifests in disrespect and distrust.  I recently had an altercation with a student, where I was physically attacked by a student.  I thought about all of the videos that I had viewed of teachers hitting students or being verbally abusive, and I instantly got it.  You see, teachers aren’t allowed to be people.  We aren’t allowed to respond when we are physically or verbally assaulted.  We are expected to remain “professional” at all times.  I don’t feel that I or any teacher should have to put up with being verbally or physically assaulted, and unfortunately there are more and more instances of such encounters.  I’ve heard the same stories from colleagues everywhere, the lack of respect is ridiculous. Yet, the teacher must teach.

I haven’t even touched upon the subpar pay.  It breaks my heart to see a teacher working a second job.  How is it possible that we live in a society where teachers need to get another job to make ends meet, but professional athletes have several houses and cars? I mean what does that really say about our values?  Do we really value education when the people who are on the front lines can’t even make a living off of the salary?  It’s no wonder that the number of teacher leaving the profession is at an all- time high.  I recently read an article about a teacher who has been teaching for 10 years, and decided to leave.  She wasn’t leaving because she was burnt out or didn’t love her job anymore she was leaving because she could not make a living on her teacher’s salary.  She was 32 years old still living with her parents because she couldn’t afford a place of her own.  How sad is that.

I’ve seen several people try to teach and fail.  I’ve seen them go home in tears from the stress of the day, I’ve also seen them leave teaching all together.  Teaching is a gift, it’s a calling that isn’t for everyone, I believe it is the most important job anyone can do.   However, in order to retain good quality teachers who love educating children, there are going to have to be some changes.  Higher pay, more support, and a little appreciation would go a long way to showing teachers that they are important, that they are valued, and that they are respected.  “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”