Monday, November 03, 2003

A Teacher's Lament

Let me see if I've gotten this right:

You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. Besides that I am to instill in them a sense of pride in their ethnicity, use behavior modification to eliminate disruptive behavior, and observe them for signs of abuse. I am to fight racism and the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns, and raise their self-esteem and level of patriotism. I am to teach them good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job... but I am never to ask if they are in this country illegally. I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe learning environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage cultural diversity, and, oh yeah, TEACH... always making sure that I give the girls in my class exactly fifty percent of my attention and never, ever giving a grade below B.

I am required by contract to work on my own time (summers and evenings) and at my own expense towards additional certification, advanced certification and a master's degree, and to sponsor the club of my choice after school on my own time (when I should be grading papers and taking care of my family responsibilities). I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my current certification and employment status. I am to be a paragon of virtue and appear larger than life so that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to purchase supplies, room decorations, bulletin board supplies, supplies for children who cannot afford them, and "luxury" items such as scissors, glue, scotch tape, paper clips, note book paper, red pens, and markers with my own money as the money that might be used for this purpose has been spent sending large numbers of administrators & board members to conferences in places like Hawaii or the south of France.

To do this the District gives me a room with intermittent heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer, a few books copyrighted in 1965, boards, and erasable markers, a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states, and calls me greedy when I seek a fair raise . . .

. . . but it's O.K. because it's my "calling!"

Yeah. Right.

You see, sometimes people don't understand the difficulty behind all of this AND showing children the functions of a cell. I deeply, deeply feel for those who don't. I am going to love teaching, as I already do, but sometimes it is just too much when people think that I am a slouch not living up to my full potential. This is my path, and I shall be happy nontheless!

This should get some good comments at least....

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