When stay/work-at-home moms take affront to those think that they spend all day sitting on the couch, eating bon-bons, I always nod my head in solidarity. Not because I am one, but because I know what it’s like to have someone insist that your job isn’t a job (and I know that motherhood is a full-time job!). I respect the work that every single person does, and I bet that every job in this world is difficult in many ways (except for my dream job of professional wine and chocolate taster).
In fact, today one of my little lovelies raised his hand and said, “Why do teachers complain about not making enough money? I mean, if you want to get paid more, then you should’ve found a JOB where you have to work all year!”
Let me tell you, a soapbox materialized under my feet and by the time I was finished, one student stood up and clapped, while the rest just stared, open-mouthed, wondering if I’d finally lost my mind.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard it, and it surely won’t be the last. Indeed, if I had a dollar for every time I heard some generic statement about teachers having an easy job, it’d make up for what my paychecks are lacking! And every time I hear it, I want to invite that person to spend a day in my shoes.
During the course of a school day, I’m a teacher. I’m also a counselor, because in middle school, not a day goes by that there isn’t a crying girl. You think I’m exaggerating? Trust me, with 60 or so girls on a team, at least one is bound to cry before the day is over. I’m a critic, as I grade stacks and stacks of essays. I’m a leader, as I conduct my team meetings every day (can you believe someone trusted me with a position of power, no matter how minute it is?). I’m a learner myself, as the students often ask me questions that I have to look up, before I can definitively answer them. I’m a mediator, as I field rude and often dismissive parent emails (seriously, when you email your child’s teacher about missing work, don’t accuse him/her of losing your child’s work. It happens, but it’s rare). When the day ends, I very rarely just go home. I take home papers, lessons, I work on new ideas. My job doesn’t end when the bell rings.
Yes, I get the summer off, but do you know what I do during the summer? I go to curriculum meetings, I rework old lessons, and soon enough, I’ll be taking college courses to renew my license (which I must do, yet pay for out of my own pocket). Sure, there are days that I do nothing, and those days are blissful. Not only are they blissful, but they are necessary. Can you imagine spending a straight year with 8th graders? I joke that I’ve lost my mind, but if that really happened, I WOULD lose my mind. No doubt about it! I love my job, but I need the summer to refresh and recharge, to get ready to face another year.
So if this isn’t a real job, then I guess I’m glad I’m a teacher. And if you still don’t believe me that it’s hard, that it’s real, then I’d love to trade jobs with you, just for one day. Especially if you happen to be a professional wine and chocolate taster.