For those of you just joining the conversation, I am an elementary school teacher. 2nd grade to be precise. There are a lot of people who get what I do each day, and there are some who do not. I've heard it all before, short days, great vacations, no pressure, ahh....the good life.
Now, don't get me wrong, my days are much shorter than most people (I do work most days from 7:00 - 4:00.) I get home each day at a very decent hour. The vacations are amazing, I freely admit. I love my job!! It is rewarding and a great deal of fun...........
...........But is my job one with little to no pressure????
I don't think so.
I'm only in the classroom from 8:45 to 3:05 (with kids) true, but I'm teaching every second of that time. I have 20 kids in my class and I have to know each one. I can't go into a parent-teacher conference and say, 'I don't know your kid!' I think in many other jobs I could space out sometimes, chat with coworkers, use the phone--I can't do that as a teacher. Heck, there is only two times during the day in which I can use the restroom. I am "On" from the time the bell rings until the day ends. Teaching is about people's lives and emotions. It's about relationships and connection. It's emotionally exhausting. You have to play so many different roles. And you're always watching--to make sure you don't hurt someones feelings, to make sure you don't miss that opportunity to launch a kid in the right direction, because everything you say or do has such tremendous impact on them. The toughest part about this job is keeping a classroom unified and focused. Every kid is different. Every day with every kid is different. If you have 20 kids in a room, every one of them is at a different stage of personal and emotional development. Each one has a different grasp of the subject. I can't simply teach to the whole class. I have to teach to each kid in the class. I interact with hundreds of kids each day, and I try to engage each one in a personal interaction. You have to pick up on what people already know, what they want to know, and what they need to know. You need listening skills to figure out how to fit your material into each particular person's framework
No pressure you say.........
......well how is this for a statistic. A student who is a poor reader at the end of 1st grade has a 90 % chance of remaining a poor reader for the rest of their life. 90%!!!!!!! I don't believe I have to go into great detail of what that means for these students, but if reading is the cornerstone of education, and education level and success are the indicators for success in life...........
Still think I deal in a pressure free environment??? My success or failure as a teacher of an individual child will most likely dictate what the remainder of their life will be like.
Here is a part of an article I found that sums up what I just said.
Students who do not "learn to read" during the first three years of school experience enormous difficulty when they are subsequently asked to "read to learn." Teaching students to read by the end of third grade is the single most important task assigned to elementary schools. During the first three years of schooling, students "learn to read." That is, they develop the capacity to interpret the written symbols for the oral language that they have been hearing since birth. Starting in fourth grade, schooling takes on a very different purpose, one that in many ways is more complex and demanding of higher-order thinking skills. If efficient reading skills are not developed by this time, the English language, history, mathematics, current events, and the rich tapestries of literature and science become inaccessible. In addition, a strong body of evidence shows that most students who fall behind in reading skills never catch up with their peers who become to fluent readers. They fall further and further behind in school, become frustrated, and drop out at much higher rates than their classmates. They find it difficult to obtain rewarding employment and are effectively prevented from drawing on the power of education to improve and enrich their lives. Researchers speak of this syndrome as the "Matthew Effect"—the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Still say no pressure????
Many kids in my class come from great homes with great parents. But there are many who don't. Let me tell you some stories. I once had a kid come in and tell me how his brother and he had been arguing the night before. His father, obviously upset with the situation, gave he and his brother each a knife and said "If you want to kill each other, then do it." I've had a student in my class who watched his mother stabbed multiple times by a boy friend. Can't count the amount of times I've had students removed from their homes due to abuse in the home. I have had students in my class that have gone through abuse I can't even begin to imagine. The fatherless home is all to common in my world. The parent-less world is one becoming all too common. I once had a student say to me during a reading lesson, completely unprovoked mind you "My daddy is leaving our house because he told my mommy he doesn't love her. My mommy cries all the time now." Wow!!! How do you focus that kid onto his lesson? These students deal with a pain many of us can't imagine, and somehow it is my job to help them through this and get them to learn what they need to learn in school. No Pressure.......elementary school is all giggles and warm fuzzies. I had a student one year, a 1st grader, who spent the 1st 5 years of his life with his dad. His dad would go to work all day long, from sun rise to sun set, while this little boy was left at home BY HIMSELF. All day long by himself. He had no social skills, and his story is not un-common in the schools of today. I deal with kids like this everyday. I could go on and on and on and on.........but these are the kids I teach each day. I have kids in my class each year, imagine the most annoying, disruptive behaviors you can in a child. Now double it, and imagine spending 6 hours a day in a room with them, controlling them, making sure they stay focused so they don't disturb the others while you have to teach them the single most complicated language in the world (English that is) addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, subject, predicate, etc, etc., etc. (7 year olds mind you). I must get them reading, writing, and solving math problems at a certain level by the end of each year, or..............well, we have already covered that story. My school year is a sprint......a really long sprinting obstacle course (the obstacles pop as the race goes) toward a definite finish line. The gun sounds at the end of August and the year goes full speed until the middle of June. It is not a leisurely walk. It is go go go go go.......
Now don't get me wrong, I love my job. God made me to do this. It is my calling. It is the reason I exist and I am thankful for the position he has put me in. I LOVE IT!!!! Everything about it, everything I just put forth. I love every bit of it. It is very fun, extremely exciting, very difficult, filled with all sorts of pressure, physically and emotionally exhausting, and each year is a great adventure.
I don't pretend that my job is any more difficult than anybody else's. All jobs have their challenges. But the next time you think your kids are driving you crazy....too the brink....well know this........ they spend more time with me each day than they do with you.
so if you wonder why I am the way I am away from work.........well, the rest of my day is very, very serious in nature. Every thing I do has someones future on the line.......I hold your child's future in the palm of my hand....think about what you expect out of your child's teacher....what do you expect and hope for in your child's future.....and then tell me my job carries with it no pressure.
and you know what I say about that..........
Ahhhh........It Is Definitely......THE GOOD LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!