Yes, I am a teacher (not to say that this is the only profession in which this happens).
After teaching high school math for three years in Southwest Atlanta (and taking a year-and-a-half off to complete my Master’s Degree), I am back in the classroom once again, only now teaching 7th grade math at the same middle school that I once attended sometime last century.
About a month ago, my mom asked me if I was happy teaching. I guess she could see the amount of stress and pressure I was under and wanted to know why I was subjecting myself to this. “I just had a bad day, just like anyone else at any other job,” I replied.
The truth is that I love what I do, but in case you don’t have regular interactions with an educator let me fill you in: this job isn’t easy.
The sad reality is that, somewhere along the way (and probably long before my days as a student), the teaching profession in this country no longer garners the same amount of respect as it once did. To be fair, this is some of our own doing. There are cheating scandals, the Mary Kay Letourneau’s of the world, and there are some teachers whose three favorite things about teaching are June, July, and August.
Unfortunately, you’re more likely to hear about those kinds of teachers than the ones that I’ve worked with these last few years. There’s the teacher who gets to school before everyone else to help raise money so that all her students can attend field trips. There’s the teacher that teaches a full day at school, and also dedicates Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings to teach catechism classes for children. There’s the teacher that stays after school every day to tutor his students that need the extra help. And I could go on…
Teachers like these may never get the praise that they truly deserve. But that’s not why they we do what we do. I can’t speak for every teacher out there, but I’m certain most would agree that we do it because we care about those kids that come into our building every day. As my old professor, Dr. Kruskamp, would always say, “Those are our kids. Kids who only eat two meals a day: the breakfast and lunch that we serve at school.”
So if you’re reading this, thank a teacher. Maybe it’s your 4th grade teacher, maybe it’s your neighbor, or maybe it’s the most important teacher of all: your child’s. After all, even us teachers need a reminder every now and then of why it’s OK to leave for work before sunup and come home well after sundown.