For the past couple of years, I’ve been preparing to become a teacher. Throughout that time, I’ve continually asked myself why would I choose such an under appreciated and under paid profession. Though I’d rather not admit it, I’ve thought about switching to something more lucrative and respected.
Those thoughts never turned into action because I genuinely believe my purpose in life was to teach and help counsel the youth of tomorrow. Many new teachers have an ideal view of teaching that is unrealistic and doesn’t prepare you for the realities on the ground. For this very reason, I requested to carry out my student/teacher volunteer hours in one of the most infamous high schools in the area (and not in a good way). I also worked very closely with my children’s teachers last year not only to show my appreciation for their hard work and dedication, but to also gain more knowledge of the intricacies of the profession. The experiences I gained was valuable, but it really didn’t prepare me for my first week of teacher orientation.
Teacher orientation for me began a couple of weeks ago. I’d slowly been acquiring things from the dollar section in Target, which is a great resource for teachers as well as ordering materials from Amazon. I really felt proud of myself for staying under my small budget and getting everything that I needed for the start of the school year. I’d even acquired all of my son’s school supplies, which for a kindergartner was rather extensive. Then, I stepped foot inside the school and visited other teacher’s classrooms before orientation began and realized that I grossly underestimated exactly how much and what I’d need. I also grossly underestimated the out-of-pocket expenses I would have to incur despite the likely fact that as a new hire, I won’t receive a paycheck for the first three weeks.
Besides the essentials, which I‘d like to call the four P‘s (pens, paper, pencils, and posters), I’d need to purchase, pencil holders, pencil sharpeners, tissue, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, organizing materials, baskets, file cabinets, tacks, etc. The list could really go on forever, but the point is, those expenses quickly add up. For an elementary teacher, I’m sure it’s much worse as some have to purchase books, crayons, and other necessities for their classroom often times at a discount, but out of their own money.
Teachers also spend countless hours of their time while they are on “vacation” preparing lesson plans, some writing curriculums which is a task in itself, as well as planning trips and fun activities for the upcoming school year. Personally, I’ve had several meetings with the rest of my upper school teachers, and though the good food and company more than made up for the time away from leisure summer activities, it was still time spent away from my children.
Most teachers are like me; they have families, lives, and bills that everyone else has to pay but in addition to that, we also give selflessly of our own money in order to improve the education of our students. Now having this inside track on what exactly a teacher goes through, it pains me even more to see the public discourse about teachers become so hardened and rude. As a parent, I now have an even greater fondness and appreciation for what their teachers do on a regular basis. I hope that parents who stumble across this blog, become more involved and appreciative of what we do. It’s desperately time to change the public discourse on teachers and as a parent, I believe that parents should be at the forefront of this charge.