I just finished bgm1969's great diary on Why Is It That America Hates Teachers So Much? It got me thinking.
Are teachers that hated?
I've been a teacher for 23 years and while I feel the hate from the right wing media, I don't see the hate on a day to day basis. In fact, most of the interactions I have with both parents and students are very positive. Maybe that's why I still love what I do. Join me below the orange thingy and I'll try to explain.
I didn't start out as a teacher. Even though I come from a long line of teachers (5th generation on my mom's side), I had no interest in teaching until I had children of my own. I found interacting with them and their friends far more interesting than what I did for a living (retail management). At age 35, I quit my day job and went back to school to become a teacher. I already had a college degree so I was able to pick up a teaching degree in two years and started my career at age 37. My first contract was a 40% pay cut from my last year in retail management. It was the best work decision I ever made.
I spent my first 15 years teaching fifth and then sixth grade. I loved it. The daily interaction with students, the high a teacher gets when a kid, or better yet,
a whole class gets it, the constant mental stimulation of trying to keep 26 kids interested in lesson while also evaluating whether they are learning what they need to learn. The planning and teaching lessons in sixth different subjects every day. It was hard work but worth it.
Our district decided to go from a junior high model to a middle school model and decided to move the sixth graders up. I chose to move with them. It wasn't an easy choice for me. I could have gone back to fifth grade, or transferred to another grade. Moving to middle school meant taking more classes to get a middle school endorsement. I took the classes, applied for positions at a couple of our then junior highs and was lucky enough to get a position. I became a middle school teacher.
I should mention that middle school kids are considered weird, probably because they are. Elementary teachers are afraid of them because of their size and high school teachers don't like them because they are immature. It's a horrible age. Their bodies are changing, sometimes overnight, the hormones are hitting them every day and they just don't fit in anywhere. They aren't kids and they aren't adults. The only people that really like them are middle school teachers. I found my place.
I currently teach a required semester subject. That means I have at least 300 students a year pass through my classroom. The bad news is, that is a lot of kids. The good news is that is a lot of kids. I make an impact on a lot of lives.
I do some things that teachers aren't always encouraged to do. I hug kids (but only if they want to be hugged). I call parents to tell them how awesome their kids are. I take kids to the hall to tell them how great they are. I tell dumb jokes. I greet them in the hall as they walk by even if I don't know them.
I also listen to kids. That's a good thing. They tell me things they don't share with other adults. Sometimes what they tell me is scary. If they are in danger, I try to find them help. If all they need is an ear, I just listen.
When I talk to my kids or their parents, I don't hear the hate. I only hear or read it when I check out right wing sites.
I love what I'm doing and I'm not going anywhere.