Monday, April 20, 2015

Teaching IS a Profession

Some people believe teaching is a vocation like becoming a priest or nun. It isn’t. It’s a profession. Teachers are professionals who have mortgages, car loans, insurance policies, and dozens of other expenses like other professionals. A priest, nun, pastor, etc. usually have allowance for room and board and are provided the necessary health insurance, travel, and finally retirement. Teachers do not. Yet, we are most often than not treated as though we get so much handed to us. We don’t. 

Teachers attended post secondary education and received at minimum a Bachelor’s degree and more often than not a costly PhD. It is true we do not work summers and have many days off a year, but here is what we down behind the curtain (for we truly are on stage when in the classroom). We design assignments that will take our students away from their cell phones, ipads, iphones, tablets, etc. We design assignments that will incorporate technology, so we can offer challenging lessons.
Assessments created by a teacher truly collaborate between curricula, life, and interests. Teachers do not design assessments that do not involve critical thinking skills. We KNOW what is important for our students and what is not. We search to find interesting books, so our disinterested readers will get hooked. We get to know our students the way administrators can never get to know students. We see them on a daily basis, know their particulars, understand their challenges, appreciate their hardships, and rejoice in their successes.

Faculty, regardless of grade level they teach, are faced with amazing odds. Picture a classroom of mixed intelligences, moods, problems, challenges. Now, imagine you are required to bring every single one of them to the goal line. No, it doesn’t matter that there are variables. If you are to be viewed as a successful teacher, then all students must show some form of success. Easy? Think again. Even in A.P. or Dual Enrollment classes, faculty is faced with students who are too tired from having worked the previous night to perform well in class. Some students are there because the parents want them there, so they do not have the motivation or inclination. Imagine students with social, cultural, or psychological stressors. Imagine the mix.

Every year, teachers are required (in most states) to attend professional development. In some cases, the expense comes from the teachers own pocket. And, there are other expenses as well. We spend our own money to award students for good behavior and good grades. We spend our own money to supply them with notebooks, pens, and pencils. We spend our own money to decorate our classrooms, so our students feel welcome and safe. Our post secondary education not only prepared us to teach our subject but also prepared us to understand student behavior.

Yet, as the school year comes to a close or as the school year opens and negotiations approach, teachers hear the same story year after year. “We do not have the money for the percentage you ask.” Every year, faculty is made to feel lucky that we have a job. We are made to feel lucky if we get a 1, 2, or 3 percent raise. It does not help a teacher’s appeal when the majority of the population agrees with the school boards or the administrators. As an educator for the past thirty years, I would like to be witness to a time when teachers are respected for the professionals we are. I would like to hear people say, “thank you for working with our good students as well as our difficult students.” Or, “thank you for all the years of professional development you pursued, so my child can continue to grow, mature, and excel.”
© Natala Orobello

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