Tuesday morning I was taking out the trash, my neighbor waived then said “7 hour work day and summer free must be the life” jokingly as he placed the cans at the curb. Teachers hear these sentiments from non-educators all the time. Trolls fill the internet with animosity towards the teacher workday. Comments like “Teachers get full time pay but only work part-time” perpetuate the myth that teaching is a well paid, easy, part-time job. The common teacher comeback is “just work a day in my shoes”, ending the exchange. Ironically, when talking to others about teaching middle school the most common response is “you can’t pay me enough to teach teenagers.”
Why do comments like these feel like daggers in the heart of teachers? Teachers work hard and are passionate about what they do. Our career choice is unlike most other professions for many reasons:
- Teacher preparation hour is like most other jobs. If teachers are lucky they get 30 minutes of preparation time per day. Most elementary teachers have roughly 200 minutes per week. This is when teachers can grade paper, design lessons, organize room, tutor students, communicate with parents, read and reply to staff communications and go to the bathroom.
- Going to the bathroom has to be scheduled. Teachers spend most of their day in front of students, going to the bathroom can be a challenge. Elementary teachers especially have a struggle since they don’t have passing time between classes.
- All meetings and collaboration happens after the bells. Most jobs have all their meetings during the scheduled day. For teachers this never happens because teachers need to be in front of students. Teachers spend countless hours before and after school in meetings or collaborating with co-workers to make the school days go freely. Think about all the afternoon and evening activities you see your children’s teachers attending. This is on own the teachers time. Many teachers have to miss events for their own children to be there for their students.
- No going in late, cutting out early or extending lunch like most jobs for appointments. If a teacher has a doctor’s appointment it has to be after school hours or in the summer. Otherwise the teacher has to take the time off. Juggling these appointment can be a major struggle for educators that need to going to regular appointments. Just ask a teacher who has been pregnant during the school year.
- Homework. Teachers have the most. What doesn’t get accomplished during their prep time still has to be completed at home for instruction to continue the next day.
- During summer teacher do get a break but also attend professional development and hone their skills for the next year.
Teaching is a tough job. It is getting tougher with the lack of public support for our profession. If you are jealous of a teacher’s life then become a teacher don’t bash one. Nobody is bashing professional athletes for only playing at most 162 games in a season, so why bash teachers who make far less? Let’s stop bashing others and start understand what we each do to make this world a better place.
Teachers do one of the most important jobs in the world: EDUCATING the next generation. Shouldn’t their jobs be respected and supported rather than bashed?