I guess.

There's been a lot of talk lately putting down the teaching profession. Not only do we get summers, weekends, and a couple of weeks at Christmas off, but test scores are dropping and our kids aren't learning anything.

A month or so ago a friend of mine inferred that I don't work full time because I'm home by 3 every day.

I guess she doesn't know about the days that I stay at school until 3:30 and then have to rush to get home by 4 to get my kids off the bus.  (And I'm there by 7 am every day.)

I guess she doesn't know about my 23 minute lunch period which is the only free time I have all day (as she talks about reading a book at her hour-long lunch).

I guess she doesn't know that I can spend 5 hours on a Sunday afternoon grading papers. And still have planning to do for the rest of the week.

I guess she doesn't know that I sit with my computer every night trying to find new/better/more interesting ways to teach my kids.

I guess she doesn't know that I am about to totally reorganize my whole curriculum to fit the CCSS.  And not only reorganize it but reinvent it too. Chances are slim that we'll have many resources to pull from that fit our immediate needs.

I guess she doesn't know that I spent hundreds of my own dollars to travel to TMC12 this summer. And I'll probably spend hundreds more this coming summer to repeat that experience.

I guess she doesn't know that I spent oodles of money and too many hours at a non-air conditioned school this summer to redo my classroom.

I guess she doesn't know that as I'm spending this extra money on my classroom and professional development opportunities, my salary has been frozen for a couple of years.

I guess she doesn't know that I'm basically available for my kids 18 hours a day through email, twitter, and schoology (our online environment).

I guess she doesn't know that I've spent close to $100 this year on various things that the kids are selling at school to help support their activities.

I guess that she doesn't know that when I take a day off (whether it be for a personal day, sick day, or because I have sick kids) it's more work preparing for a substitute teacher than it is to actually be there myself. Calling in isn't the end of it. (Last year I actually took my girl with an ear infection into school because there were some things I had to be there to do to prepare for a sub. And then we went to the doctor.)

I'm not a complainer. I love what I do. I just wish people could respect that and think about what goes on behind the scenes so that their kids are successful and learn.

ETA:  From a comment I received on fb when I posted a link to this...
Unfortunately, even though this is all SOOO true, sometimes non-teachers just don't get it. You didn't even mention the fact that our salaries (even considering summers off) are not equal to other professions with equal amount of education. Or the fact that the legislators who have not been in a classroom other than as a student, keep changing the laws and requirements for everything. And like you- not complaning.....we HAVE to love what we do or we wouldn't be doing it.  My husband always asks me why I don't get grading and lesson plans finished at school. Well.......that is when we make parent phone calls, go to IEP meetings and a million other distractions!


  1. Excellent post! I wish instead of focusing on what they perceive we *don't* do as teachers, people would pay more attention to the things that we actually do.

    How many other professions are judged and criticized by the negative space around their profession?

    Why is the burden of proof on teachers to demonstrate the positive space we inhabit on a daily basis, often beyond an 8-hour workday or 5-day work week?

  2. "I guess she doesn't know that I sit with my computer every night trying to find new/better/more interesting ways to teach my kids."


    "I guess she doesn't know that I spent hundreds of my own dollars to travel to TMC12 this summer. And I'll probably spend hundreds more this coming summer to repeat that experience."

    are my favorite parts!

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  4. Did you really have to get me started? ;-)

    This is a sore spot for me. As you know, I just entered teaching 3 years ago after being in marketing/advertising for about 15/20 years. I totally see this issue from both sides.

    First, I have never worked so hard in my entire life as I have since I started teaching.

    Second, I love teaching. It is the best move I ever made.

    Third, most people hate their job and can't stand that I like mine. They think that since I like it, it can't be hard work.

    Fourth, most people discount any work we do that isn't actually in front of a class teaching as not being work, but think their time between what ever it is that they are ultimately responsible for is hard work.

    "real world" people think they work hard because they spend a lot of hours "at work", "in the office". In reality, most of that time is wasted.

    Most of my time "working" was spend preparing for presentations and such. If I was to count the amount of time I spent actually marketing and advertising stuff, I don't think I could have filled a day each week. It's the prep that is all the work.

    Most people don't see that teachers are presenting to their clients from, in my case, 7:30 AM - 2:30PM with a 20 minute lunch and two 40 minute prep periods.

    The ridiculous amount of time I spend prepping, grading, professional development, etc... is unseen and discounted by most people because it is not necessarily done at school and I am not required to be there to do it.

    The analogy I use with my former co-workers who think I am on easy street now is that to compare apples to apples, my job vs theirs, We would have to compare my day to only when they actually present to clients...anything else they do is considered free time.

    That usually shuts them up. But I tell them point blank...they have no idea what it's like to work hard and like their job.

  5. Two more things....

    I my past life as a marketing director, if I was responsible for all of the things I am responsible for as a teacher, there would be three people doing the job.

    I would probably hire a recent college grad to handle all of the paperwork involved with teaching 3 different subjects, and another admin to handle all the other crap.

    By the way, I made more than three times what I make now and those two additional people i mentioned would both make what I make now or more.

    The second thing...

    I don't HAVE OFF two months a year! I am UNEMPLOYED two months a year. I don't get paid for those months and in fact pick up other jobs to fill the gap. Many of my friends and former co-workers just don't get it.

  6. I agree 100%. I dare anyone in the "real world" to take my job for a year then tell me I have it easy and don't do anything- oh and in Texas we have some of the worst insurance, nothing paid into Social Security and we don't get Bonus's that are more than our whole entire salary like those putting us down.


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