The other day, I shared this quote from 'Best Teacher' on Facebook.
"Every school in America has teachers working for free on a daily basis. Go by any school parking lot early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or even at night or on the weekends, and you will see them. No overtime, no bonuses or promotions on the one–just doing it for their students! Teachers are using their free time, and often investing their own money, for children's literacy, prosperity, and future…"
A couple people made comments on the post I shared, and one person commented this:
"This happens in every industry where salaried professionals approach their job with dedication and urgency. It's SOP."
There certainly are many people in many different professions who go above and beyond, yet this comment helps me realize that people still do not understand what a dedicated teacher's life looks like. I brainstormed the list below based on what I see from teachers in my school. Take a look at this list and I think you will agree that many other professionals do some of these things, but I am not sure we can find one that does them all. And, this list is nowhere near comprehensive.
Actor: A teacher is not allowed to have a bad day, they need to be on their game in order to make every day count for student learning. That does not mean they are positive and upbeat every day. That means that they are good actors who have to push their own emotions aside for the benefit of students.
Philanthropist: Buying sets of glue sticks with their own credit card, not the school credit card. In fact, they have no school credit card. Often, they hide these purchases from a spouse because they spend so much on their classroom. So, in addition to being broke, they have guilt about it.
Set Designer: Setting up the classroom like a set of a play, single-handedly, to create an optimal learning environment.
Then, changing it, multiple times a year, when the needs of the students change.
Researcher: Endlessly searching for ideas to make school come alive for students, because our competition for their attention is video games, virtual reality, YouTube videos, etc.
Character Developer: Not only worrying about teaching them reading, writing and arithmetic, but also wanting to help them become the amazing little people they know they can be.
Public Relations Specialist: Managing a class website and/or weekly newsletter to make sure parents have the information they need to support student learning. Being active on social media–Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.–to garner ideas for the classroom as well as to share ideas.
Learner: Reading books, attending professional development, endlessly learning.
Data Analyst: Constantly analyzing the data we get from students, data collected in a formal way like through assessments as well as informal data like daily classroom observations. We input data into whatever system our school district has chosen and use the data to adjust instruction to meet the needs of students, to complete report cards, to inform school initiatives, etc.
Second Shift: Staying at school well into the night finishing up report cards, holding parent/teacher conferences, preparing for a field trip or the beginning of a big, exciting unit of study.
Dancer: Rehearsing a staff dance number after school to share with students during half-time of a student/teacher basketball game.
Accountant: Collecting money for things like field trips, keeping track of who has paid and who hasn't, sending out notices (sometimes multiple notices) when parents haven't paid yet. Then, paying out of their own pocket when a family can't afford to send in the money.
Counselor: Helping children work through any problems that come up–interpersonal problems, learning problems, family problems, etc. Then, communicating with parents–often well into the evening–to make sure parents are well-informed about what is troubling their child at school.
Comedian: Making sure that laughter is a part of the classroom every day.
Motivational Speaker: Inspiring students to do their very best work, to dream of the possibilities in their future, to support each other in the classroom.
Conflict Manager: Do you have a couple kids of your own? Ever have to manage their conflicts? Picture having 25-30 children, maybe more, and helping them manage their conflicts. We don't get to send them to their rooms, we have to support them in working out the problem in a way that works for both of them, while not interfering with the learning of the rest of the class.
You notice I did not even list the curriculum work teachers do–they are handed manuals and a list of learning goals and they are task with making sure each student progresses in the that curriculum in a meaningful way. As you can see, teachers are more than dedicated professionals, they are public servants who put incredible pressure on themselves to serve their students. I have to agree with John Wooden,
"I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession."
Teachers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for working for free, for embracing your varied roles, for being perpetual learners.
You amaze me every day.
You are amazing.