02 Mar Slice of Life: It Started as a Game… #SOL19
I admit it. For years I played a “cocktail party” (could also be a baseball field or school fundraiser or spouse’s work event) game. Whenever I am in a situation of meeting a lot of people for the first time and small talk is in order, I play this game. When the moment of truth happens, when the person finally asks THE question… I play the game.
So… what do you do?
Fifty percent of the time I reply: ” I’m an elementary school teacher” and the other fifty percent of the time I answer “I’m an educational consultant.”
The game started because for a long time I was both. I continue the game because I find the difference in response baffling.
When I reply educational consultant here is the response:
- That is so interesting. Tell me more.
- Explain exactly what you do.
- Are you with one school or several schools?
- What does that entail?
- Do you have an area of specialty?
When I reply elementary school teacher, the most common and almost always first response is:
- That must be so much fun.
- I wish I had a relaxing job.
- It must be great to have summers off.
- So cute!
I am not joking. It is not everyone, but there is a definite pattern. To make it worse, these are most often people who are parents of school-aged children.
I have worked in competitive market research for a national insurance company, taught at the college level, served as a district-level administrator, own a business, wrote two books, am a consultant and was an elementary school teacher. Hands down, being a teacher is the hardest job I have ever had.
Teaching is all-encompassing. It is intellectual, physical, social, emotional and pragmatic. Research has shown that the only other profession that makes as many decisions in a day is an air-traffic controller. Air-traffic controllers, however, get to sit down while they work and take a 30-minute break every 90 minutes for safety reasons. Teachers don’t even get to go to the bathroom or drink water (due to not getting to go to the bathroom). ABC News ranks it as the fourth most stressful job in America. Why then these responses about relaxing and cute?
Let’s face it, most of these people hire someone to manage their child’s birthday party. Can they not control 25 kids for two hours with cake and games on their own? Have they tried teaching 25 seven-year-olds (and that’s a small class these days) how to determine the theme of a book? Or how to multiply? Or how to write a text-based essay? Or how to be a collaborative partner? Or how to be a good friend? Or have a snack ready for the student who never has one? Or source a classroom library from their personal funds?
There has never been a more important time for our country to shift how we value educators. Education is a profession that is our future. It is a profession that impacts the lives of our children. It is a profession that is selfless and often without reward. It is a profession that can be lonely and exhausting. It is a profession that requires the use of personal funds to acquire the tools and materials necessary to do your job.
Teachers matter. Teachers make a difference every day. Teachers deserve our utmost respect.
Teachers deserve to be appreciated. Every single day.