In a recent Facebook post on a popular parenting Facebook page, there was a photo posted of a man with the caption 'My husband is a year 6 school teacher and during school term you will find him sitting here most nights like this (even on weekends) because there is no start and finish time when you are a teacher and because teaching is a massive job!’
Teachers, I salute you. You have a bloody tough job. And I should know, I’ve raised three teenagers, who started out as three little children and often wondered how I ever would cope with 25. A big part of the debate is the assumption that teachers have it easy because they work from 9am until 3pm and get 12 weeks a year holidays - and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that?
I have teacher besties who became my friends through teaching my children #dedication. I’ve seen many extra hours put in, loads of personal money spent to make the ‘classroom look pretty’, or on something fancy just because the kids would love it. I’ve returned home to phone messages left on my answering machine reminding me of the next days’ excursion (ok, I may have a reputation of being a little forgetful). I’ve known teachers to pack lunch boxes for kids who are a little disadvantaged. In Grade 4, my youngest daughter had a little group of friends playing netball as an extracurricular activity, totally outside of school, and her teacher came along at 8am on a Saturday morning to watch her girls play. I’m sure these are not written into a teaching contract.
I understand that because of technology, there doesn’t seem to be such thing as a 9-5 job for any of us anymore. We all put in loads extra, sometimes paid, sometimes not - but in today’s society, it seems to be expected. And I’m not saying every teacher is absolutely amazing - they’re not. As in any industry, there are good or bad - doctors, police, retail salespeople, truck drivers. But, it still comes down to the individual. I’m not sure how many teachers become teachers because they’re enticed by holidays. For the rest of the year, it’s a tough gig. And at the end of the day, we are trusting them with our most precious little souls. So, rather than focusing on how easy we think they have it, why are we not banding together to help them do the best job they can?
During a recent Sunday night, I had tears from my youngest daughter about school the next morning. She was having a couple of friendship issues, as well as Maths struggles. I had been meaning to organise a teacher meeting so jumped on my computer and sent off an email to her teacher. She emailed me straight back, not only arranging a meeting time but a long email telling me what a beautiful person my daughter is. I showed her the email, I told her how proud I was of her, she stopped crying and went to sleep with a smile on her face after reading the kind words written about her. I know that in any profession we are often emailing at all hours but that one email was probably more important than any I’d ever sent or received.
It had nothing to do with job comparisons, or who works harder than others, or who does or doesn’t get paid enough for what they do, but everything to do with my child. I don’t care if you get 12 weeks holidays, or if you finish at 3pm or 5pm or whatever the time is. I care that you know my child, and what’s best for her education, self esteem and your input is helping shape the person she is becoming.
I’m off to parent/teacher interviews this afternoon, and I think I may just take a little box of chocolates to say thank you.