So why do I so often think, "I'm just a teacher."? That word, that 'just,' says so much, doesn't it? It says I don't value the job I do the way I believe it should be valued. It says I consider myself inferior to others because of my job.
A brilliant teacher wrote recently about hitting the ten year mark as a teacher (something I reached five years ago):
And yet, I have the same job that anyone right out of college could have. Although I've personally made huge gains professionally none of these really matter. I hold the same job 22 year olds are qualified for. We have the same voice, are treated the same professionally, and are considered the same in the eyes of the district. For that matter, we're treated the same in the eyes of society. Or maybe not. Maybe the 22 year old is given more respect because there is still time for her to get out. This isn't her career yet - it's just a stopping place.(There's a lot more brilliance there and I highly encourage you to read the entire post.)
Do you hear some of the 'just' in her words? Maybe it's just me, but I do. The difference between me and a new teacher is how much we are paid. That matters, I'll grant you, but is that really all there is?
Deborah Meier, in her Bridging Differences blog, wrote about young people feeling a need for more than 'just' being a teacher:
So many say they are interested in teaching, and then imagine they will go on to more earthshaking occupations that influence more than 25 to 100 youngsters a year. Like making policy and/or becoming entrepreneurs of some sort. I recognize it—and it isn't bad. But it also worries me.I don't want to leave the classroom. I love what I do and feel no need to more on to 'more earthshaking occupations." But I also don't want to 'just' be a teacher. Is it me? Do I need to change my attitude? Or is there something bigger here?