The teacher gets up before sunrise every day. For roughly seven consecutive hours, she simultaneously plays the roles of educator, caregiver, counselor, coach, cheerleader, disciplinarian, manager, bad guy, good guy, social worker, personal hygienist, and shoulder to cry on.
She doesn’t get a leisurely, one-hour lunch like you and I. Her lunch “break” is usually about ten minutes and consists of a pack of crackers and a canned Diet Coke(unless she is using that time to catch-up a student who is behind, fill out paperwork, or listen to an irate parent explain to her that it is, in fact, “her fault” that her sweet little boy told Mrs. Teacher to “Go to hell” in the middle of class yesterday).
But, yes, sometimes she does get a minute to herself during the school day in which she can relax, pull out her iPhone and read the day’s headlines, which often say something like “Public School Teachers Are Failing”. Nothing like a pat-on-the-back…
She is required to earn various college degrees and certifications in the advanced, complex field of professional education, yet she is paid a small fraction of the average salary of an attorney, physician, or accountant(yes, even when you include her state retirement benefits, which are deemed by many today as “wasteful government spending”).
Unlike many of us, she doesn’t leave work “when the bell rings”. Instead, she stays in her classroom and fills out even more paperwork, spends more time with that struggling student, or prepares lesson plans.
And, when the day is finally done, she often goes home to clock-in to her second full-time job as Wife, Mother, Homemaker or all of the above. She gets up the next day and does it all over again, just as she does almost two-hundred days out of every year.
When she complains, we call her “bitter”.
When she asks for higher pay, we call her “greedy”.
When she doesn’t react favorably to our criticisms, we call her “unapproachable”.
When she tries to explain the many challenges of the modern day teacher, we brush her off as “making excuses”.
We demand that she be “held accountable”, yet we’ve never stepped foot into her classroom.
It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week, folks. Don’t just thank a teacher. Go to a local school, introduce yourself and ask “How can I help?”