Teachers: The Last Line of Sanity

I’ve worked in a sawmill, machine shop, as a welder, car salesman, been a millwright and trained collectors. None of those jobs, NONE, is as hard physically or emotionally than teaching.  NONE!!!!

All that being said, it pains me to see the perception that the public in general has of teachers.  We’re viewed as lazy, complaining whiners, who make goo-gobs of money and have off four months of the year.  I’m not going to give credence to any of these misconceptions because others have done a much better job than me of defending my profession.

The people I teach with are some of the kindest, most loving and caring people I have ever met.  If you knew what I knew about how much they love and care for your children, you would fall to your knees and thank the good Lord.  This is not hyperbole!!!  The school I teach at now is chock full of these kind of people.  They come in sick, bankrupt, going through divorce, personal loss and even under the cloud of terminal illness and despite all of this they still show love and kindness for each and every student.

They hate the current state of high stakes testing and micro-managing of their craft because they know it takes away from what really matters in their students lives: love.  In the current climate there is no time to be had for sick pets, divorcing parents or hurt feelings.  Those types of issues have to be pushed aside so children can be taught how to pass the state mandated assessments.

So, daily, these adjunct parents walk in with their sack lunches and graded papers and have to make a moral decision.  Do I take the time to soothe the emotional wounds of these little souls and teach them what’s REALLY important, or do I teach them the language, tricks and work-a-rounds of the mandated assessments ( aka teach to the test)?

Every morning I stand outside of my classroom and wait for the bell to ring.  As the students filter down the hall you can read their mood almost immediately.  The combination of 18 years of teaching and the transparency of a fifth grader makes this task doable.  You see it in their posture first, then their walk and, as they get closer, their faces.  At the point that they are there in front of you there are only milliseconds to say or do the right thing that will make a difference.  My first move is usually a hug, fist bump or pat on the shoulder.  Even then,  I’m still making the decision about what to say or not say.  It may be something as simple as how happy you are to see them.  Noticing a new hair style or clothing is always a good way to start their day as well.  There are times when you’re greeted with tears.  Forgotten homework, sick pets, lost friendships, disappointed parents, forgotten chores are all so important at that age and with each of these you must assert that they will still be loved, no matter what.

I don’t have super powers.  I’m just one of 25-30 teachers at my school who go through the same morning routine to make sure your children are happy and safe.  This is just one moment in a day of many moments that is in danger of being extinguished if the current climate is allowed to persist.  The scary thing is that even NOW the time for that moment is…

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