Why Teachers Are Better Than Me

When every school year begins, I imagine the recruiting pitch of a principal to a new teacher.

***

If you’re kind and have a love of children, I have the job for you!  

Let me tell you about the perks. 

You’ll have the opportunity to influence young minds each day.  Your contribution to these young kids’ future successes will be immeasurable.  Your students will love you as a second parent. 

Sounds great, huh? 

Now that you’re interested, I should tell you about the not-so-great parts of the job.

Let’s start with the pay.  I’ll be honest, the salary is poor relative to other fields where a college education is mandatory. 

If you think, though, about the fact that you’ll work for only nine months a year, the wage seems less egregious.  There is room for advancement – but only if you pursue additional degrees at your own expense.   

You should understand that we run a tight ship at school.  Your day is planned to the minute with no room for breaks or silliness.  There is so much to pack into each day so we’ll need you to stay on-task to ensure your classroom’s success. 

Sure, you can customize lesson plans but, we’ll provide the topics your kids absolutely need to know.  After all, our board and legislators push down those lessons that are most important.      

Success in your room will not be measured by your impact you’ll have to the lives of your kids.  The amount of fun your kids have in your room is not an objective measure either.  Rather, I’ll set up a meeting at the end of the year to review your room’s test scores. 

I cannot stress the importance of these tests enough.  Each youngster has to meet certain criteria or our end of year conversation will not go well. 

I’m sure that won’t happen – I know you’ll be great!  When you are successful, though, there is no reward that awaits.  I’ll be the first to give you a pat on the back or an “attaboy.”  Rest assured, though, you’ll need to raise those scores again next year under standards that will likely change.

The hours are pretty good and always the same – I guess that’s another perk.  I’d be less than honest, though, if I didn’t mention that your evenings will be spent responding to emails from parents and planning for tomorrow.  Just in case you’re wondering – no, we don’t pay you overtime for those outside hours either.

One last thing before you make your decision – there is no time or money for outside enrichment.  Anything other than the tested curriculum is unfunded. 

If you want to take a field trip or provide supplies to your kids, there are two options – (1) spend out of your pocket or (2) learn to fund-raise. 

But enough of my pitch – did I mention you have the summers off? 

So, do you want the job?

***

If that question were directed at me, I would quickly reply, “No thanks.”

This Good-Bad Dad knows the career outlined above wouldn’t provide me with the motivation required to hold the attention of twenty school-agers each day.

As I send four kids to school tomorrow, though, I’m fortunate that there are others that do answer this often thankless call.

I admire these brave souls that step up daily for my kids.

When I send my children into their care, I hope they know that I hold a teacher’s work in the highest regard.

I thank our teachers for loving my kids.

I thank them for being better than me.

I thank them for doing right by our kids in spite of a flawed system that takes them for granted.

Thank you to the teachers that allow me, with clear conscious, to say, “No thanks.”

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2 Comments

  1. Andrea

    From an elementary teacher, thank you for noticing, understanding and appreciating the job we do. Your article just gave me a little boost to return to my teacher websites and get ready for another year to start in 3 weeks.

    • Tobin Walsh

      Andrea,

      My parents were both teachers so I know how hard it is. As I grew up, I watched them give everything to their school kids and then come home and give everything to us. Truly a tough job “at work” and a tough job “at home” too.

      I see their eyes light up when a former student gives them a hug or sends them a Christmas card.

      I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Good luck this year. If you have a hard day, I hope you come back and read this again because what you do has value beyond comprehension.

      Thanks again,
      Toby

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