In Defense of Teachers

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Facebook Post

We’ve started the first week of summer vacation here in the Portland, OR area. I know what you’re thinking.

Oh, I wish I had the life of a teacher. 3 whole months of sleeping in and hanging out by the pool. 

Before you get too jealous, think about this*:

Teachers don’t make much money. Do you know any other profession requiring a master’s degree that makes less?

Teachers deal with 30+ kids a day. That’s 30+ different learning styles and attitudes to manage every day. 30+ different home situations to accomodate. 30+ different sets of parents who think they know how to teach better.

Not all kids get a meal before school. You know how your kids get when they’re “hangry”? Multiply that by at least 5.

Kids don’t come to school well disciplined and prepared to sit quietly and learn.

Sitting quietly doesn’t always work when trying to learn, so teachers have to plan controlled chaos.

Teachers can’t plan with kids in the room.

Parents get angry when there are non-student days. (I promise. The teachers are working. It’s not a Jimmy Buffet party with margaritas in the staff lounge.)

Next time you are at your child’s basketball game or play practice – look around at the other parents. The teachers are the ones with a big stack of papers and a red pen. This is when work gets graded.

On the first day of school, when your child enters the well prepared classroom, when do you think teachers did that? During paid time? Most likely not.

Photo:Ryan Stanton
Photo:Ryan Stanton

These are just a fraction of what teachers deal with on a daily basis. So why go into this line of work? Usually, teachers enter the education field thinking they can make a difference in the life of a kid. Good ones do. But as time goes on, so lessons the ability to make learning enjoyable for each child.

A few weeks ago, a teacher friend of mine posted out of frustration:

I am currently “proctoring” a standardized test in our lab and there is nothing more sad to me in education than watching the bored, stressed, glazed over faces of our young people reading through uninteresting, disconnected text segments & purposefully confusing questions as they spend hours trying to figure out what to choose or say for no other purpose than to please the powers that be. This is not learning. This is not connected to real life or real careers. This has been going on since February. Not kidding. Into 4th straight month of these tests and still going. We are killing the love of learning in kids. My hero Mr. Keating would be disgusted.

I agree with him and one of the comments following:

My 7th grade students are doing a project where they are creating their own NEW, from scratch, how would they like to live Societies and displaying everything that their society has to offer by way of a Zine. Anyhow yesterday was a very sad day for me because other than giving them a list of things to consider when making their societies (i.e gov. form, resources, laws etc) they have free REIGN. They can construct the Zine, its format, and how they display (structure) it, is all up TO THEM…and this is HARD for them.. FREE will, do it however YOU WANT, YOU get to decide….they do not understand the freedom given to them..they ALL keep asking me “is this right”, “is this what you want”, “am I doing it right” ,and when I turn it back on them, “is this what YOU want?”, “are you doing it right FOR YOU”..they all look at me puzzled and the conversation starts all over , “am I doing this right”..etc. I was saddened by the fact that they are so continually told WHAT to do and HOW to do it, that when they get the chance to think for them self..they are stunned….like little, trained thinking robots.

Our educational system is screwed up, but no one can decide how to fix it. Teachers are caught in the middle ~ trying to make a difference in the life of a child, yet criticized by both parents and administration to do more with less money.

So if you see a teacher tanning mid-day by the public pool, cut some slack. Chances are, that teacher’s mind is racing with ideas for the next school year.

*Numbers based on home district. These will vary across the country.


  1. says

    I taught high school English–my first job out of college. My father-in-law used to tease me about having the summer off and getting out at 3:00. I wanted to invite him to my classroom, to see if he could handle what I had to handle. Teaching means throwing yourself in front of h.s. students and trying to get them to pay attention, like what you say, learn to write decently, become good citizens, honor differences in others–the list is long. You have to help those struggling, deal with those sleeping or bad-mouthing you–as well as prepare each day a good lesson that will TEACH them what they need to learn that will HELP them become good writers and thinkers. Teachers don’t get paid enough for all that they have to do. Give them the summer off to prepare new curriculum and spend time with their families. Teachers often take care of YOUR children for a great part of the day. They deserve some time to be with their own children.

    • Andee says

      Beth, you stated this well – but don’t leave out that you’re not really “off” at 3:00 if anything needs to be planned or graded. And you mention “summer off to prepare new curriculum”…most other professions pay for preparation of an new project, employees aren’t usually expected to do it on their off time. So frustrating!

  2. says

    AMEN! Eight hours a day does not come close to summarizing the life of a teacher. That’s at school with kids in the building. As you note, there is the prep time and the grading time and the sobbing through the writing of your students at 1 a.m. times. For me, sobbing because I see students share their hearts and their passions and their souls in their writing, and they are so innocent and sweet and they just want to be accepted and loved noticed. As a teacher, you want to care so much, to let your students know you care. To make them feel like you care. Teaching is not “just” a job. It is who you are. Heart and soul.
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  3. says

    I give much respect to teachers. I applaud you for doing what you do, it’s not an easy job. And when you don’t have parental involvement or support, it makes your job even that much harder. I try to work as a partner with my daughter’s teachers, as we are all in this together. I have several friends and family members who are teachers, and I’ve heard so many horror stories.

    You’ll get no sass or talk back from me. I am pro-teacher all the way.
    The Cubicle Chick recently posted…DIY Rotating Goal List for Work or Home OfficeMy Profile

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