The Art of Fighting the Air

I am a teacher, and sometimes I wonder why. Parents really do not appreciate what I and other educators do for a living.

Teaching has become a glorified babysitting job for which I am not paid enough. I am literally paid to come and watch your kids while you work. If I am lucky (which is rare), I teach math. But mostly, I spend the day managing behaviors that I should not have to monitor because parents have abdicated their duties as parents by not teaching their children some basic human skills like empathy, cleanliness, and self control. So rather than teach math, I pseudo-parent. I teach kids how to pick up after themselves, how to treat others, how to keep their hands to themselves, how to interact with “authority figures”.

I wonder exactly how your household runs. Who is the adult in your relationship with your child? I should not have to deal with these kids’ cluelessness on how to interact with an adult. I should not have to explain over and over again what is appropriate conversation with a teacher. I should not need to say over and over again to your child how we are not the same age and therefore our interactions should NOT include the level of defiance and disrespect being lobbed my way.

This, on top of the lip service that you pay in front of me (which results in zero change in behavior), makes for a sucky job.

Now let me explain to you the OTHER stuff I deal with that makes me say I am not paid enough: horribly useless meetings that end in me having to fill out another report detailing how behind your child is and how it is somehow my fault (even though your kid made it to middle school not knowing how to read); hours of of wasted time grading the papers of the same 10 kids who always do the work while begging the other 25 to actually do something before it is too late; other horribly useless meetings about what we can do (besides having high expectations and forcing parents and students to do their parts) to increase the achievement of students who never work because they know they will be passed along anyway; using my own money to purchase supplies because the district nickel-and-dimes us while spending stupid amounts of money on curriculums and programs that they will only use until the next best exciting thing comes along; fighting a copier that may or may not work long enough for me to get one class set completed since the copy center in the district office picks and chooses whose copies are done and sent; and spending any extra free time I have calling you to plead for help in bringing some order to your unusually unruly child. I feel like I have been set up to fail every day I wake up.

The only reason I still teach is because…shoot. I don’t even know today.

All I know is that today, I am literally fighting the air because I cannot fight you or your kids or the invisible powers that be who make teaching a thankless and joyless job.

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