Sunday, September 23, 2007

Teachers Have It Easy

I ran a 5K yesterday (thank you for letting me indulge in a little bit of smugness). It was an exceptionally well organized and run race. I was quite impressed. The race was hosted by the Navy Federal Credit Union and it began and ended on their campus. It is a beautiful campus with lots of trees and a small pond. What struck me the most however was the path that ran around the building and included an exercise course and equipment. Clearly the expectation is that before, during, or after work employees can work out there.

It got me thinking about the differences between the business world and education. Teachers can not take time to work out during their lunch hour (because it's not even close to an hour). Teachers can't arrive late or leave early without it being a huge hassle to get classrooms covered. And if you do, you know your students won't get the same level of instruction as if you were there. Teachers can't even make simple phone calls throughout the day or go to the bathroom at any given time.

I don't mean for this to sound whiny or to be complaining. The great majority of the time, I'm not too bothered by this. What I am bothered by is how little I think most people understand about the realities in a school and classroom. Even my husband, who is a college professor and who puts forth significant efforts to understand, doesn't really get it.

I'm not sure it's possible to fully comprehend without spending at least one complete day with a teacher. I just know that I'd feel a lot better about how teachers are viewed in our society if I thought more of the general public had a decent understanding of what it is truly like.

Title of this post from the book by Dave Eggers, Daniel Moulthrop, and Ninive Clements Calegari.


organized chaos said...

Congrats on the 5k!
In my first non-classroom teacher year I will admit there is a simple freedom from not being attached to one class all day. I have the opportunity to go to the bathroom whenever I want. If I have to leave for some reason, I do not have to make sub plans. If I wanted to wait until 7:30 to come in I could and it wouldn't ruin 20 first graders' day.
My schedule is such that I do not have any planning during the acutal school day but at least I am not waiting for that one short block at the end of the day before I can go to the bathroom. There is a difference I think us non-classroom teachers easily forget about. I hope I don't forget what it's like the further away I get from my own classroom.

Suzanne G. said...

You should be smug about the 5K!

You are right, corporate America is not as regimented as we are. Not only that, they have the luxury of being late with their work and making excuses. The kids show up no matter how prepared we are. We learn to get things done.

Squire McGuire said...

Hi, I stumbled across this blog and would like to ask a question - I am 37 and I work in the IT field, I have an undergrad degree in MIS and I was wondering what path I could take to become a teacher?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the general public does not have an understanding of what being a teacher is all about. They still tend to think that we all work from 7:30 - 3:00 and have three months off in the summer. Do that math!

Comparing teaching to the business world is like comparing apples to oranges, and yes, we often whine about being misunderstood. However, at the end of the day, I know I have made a difference in the lives of many children and that is satisfying.

Someone once asked me, "What if you were the only person that was kind to that child today?" It's my job to be sure that I am in case no one else is. I don't think many people in the business world think like that.

Blink said...

At Back to School Night I tell our parents about our school policy for birthdays...cupcakes/cakes etc. at lunch only and parents serve, please. I also explain I appreciate being invited to help and celebrate, but lunch is only 35 minutes and it goes fast... when you walk students down a hall, stop for the bathroom to wash,etc., get to the line, make a call, check the mailbox, use the restroom, check the staff news online, and then use the remaining 9 1/2 minutes you have left if you have hurried, to eat and socialize with colleagues. I see their faces turn to instant shocked sympathy. People generally have no idea!

MissWood said...

I agree with you. Since the beginning of the year I have spent two half days and one whole day planning. I have already had to have three different subs and I haven't been sick one day! Substitutes never seem to know just what to do in my room. They hurt more than help, usually. The worst part is...I dread missing any days because as a teacher, I really can't get sick. There is no time for it. We lack instructional time as it is so all the time we have must be used to teach our kids what we need to know in order to be successful based on our standards. As a first grade teacher, I have no paraprofessional so I am pretty much stuck to the kids for eight hours a day. I don’t even think my body is accustomed to going to the restroom on a regular basis! From 8 to 3:30, I teach, and then from about 3:30-6pm, I feel like my real work begins...the planning, grading, and accommodating parents.

Like bloggers who have posted before me, I really don’t mind the responsibilities…I love teaching. My only wish is that others would respect and understand the hard work we do. After all, teaching is the job that makes all other jobs possible.—I don’t remember where I heard that but it has just stuck with me.