Those who can’t do, teach. “People who are able to do something well can do that thing for a living, while people who are not able to do anything that well make a living by teaching.” (Used to disparage teachers. From George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.)
I hate that statement. It’s not funny, nor is it clever. It implies that practical people get out in the real world and contribute in a practical way, while teachers take the easy way out – our contribution is limited to academia at best.
Here’s the thing: teachers aren’t simply educators (although if we were, would that be such a bad thing? Lets face it: everyone goes to school. Somebody is responsible for educating Einstein and Bill Gates). No, teachers are more than educators. I have found that teaching is a deeply rewarding career, but so much of what I do, the skills I use, were never taught to me at university. Nobody warned me that I would need to be able to juggle a number of ‘hats’.
I wear many hats: referee, nurse, counselor, advocate, mediator, entertainer, negotiator, and paper pusher. I provide guidance, a shoulder to cry on, ears that listen when feelings are hurt. I break up fights. I give First Aid when needed. I tell them that zits will pass and inner beauty is a lasting quality.
I help teenage girls with their ‘boy problems’ and teenage boys with their ‘girl problems’. I liaise with parents. I plan lessons that are intended to engage students. There are days where I feel more like a prison warden who would gratefully accept danger money, but in general, the good far outweighs the bad. (Actually, there are days where I feel like the circus ringmaster, the chief zookeeper, but that’s another story.) I do all of the above and more, whilst juggling bureaucratic rubbish, finding new ways to keep Shakespeare relevant and explaining that if your future career in the NRL falls through, you may need a backup plan.
I am a student myself, as teachers constantly undertake professional development where WE are educated and informed about the absolute latest methods involved in all areas of teaching.
People whine about the perks us ‘bludgers’ who are ‘always on strike for more money’ get – the 9am-3: 30pm day. The 12 weeks of holidays a year. Oh life is sweet and easy when you’re a teacher. Right?
During those holidays, teachers will spend a large amount of time dedicated to schoolwork – whether it be writing programs, writing reports, or marking and correcting an endless pile of essays, that is time that is not used for leisure.
As for the misnomer that we have a cruisy 9am-3pm day? Untrue. Faculty meetings, staff meetings, welfare meetings, senior team meetings keep us back long after 3pm. We arrive well before 9am. Many of my colleagues have a 2-hour commute to get to work by 8:30am. And when we get home, the schoolwork is not over. We plan lessons, mark and continue to work on professional development.
I am not complaining. I happen to love my job and think it’s the absolute bee’s knees. But I am thoroughly sick of the stereotype that we are lazy, or that we have it ‘easy’. The idea that I chose to become a teacher due to the ‘lengthy’ holidays and short working week is extremely insulting.
I became a teacher because I like working with people – and that includes teenagers. I love seeing a light bulb switch on when a student grasps a new concept for the first time.
I personally remember certain highschool teachers as being some of the most influential people in my life, when times were rough and I was uncertain of what to do with myself. Their advice and patience was nothing short of inspirational. If I can provide even one child with the reassurance and care that was given to me, then I have done my job.
Do you think teaching is easy? Would you consider being a teacher?