The truth is that social media--or any media, really--is difficult as a teacher right now. If you're a breastfeeding mom, you know how it feels when you see or hear someone comment on nursing, when they say it's disgusting or should only be done in the bathroom. You feel attacked, even though they may not be talking about or to you personally. Or if you're a formula feeding mom, you know how it feels when you see or hear someone say that formula is poison or that they'd never feed that to their baby. They might not be talking to you, but it sure feels like they're attacking you.
This is how it feels to be a teacher. This is how it feels when you open up the newspaper and every single day, there's a new proposed law wanting to lower your already low pay, implying that anyone could do your job, stating that most teachers are bad. This is how it feels when you read whole blog posts with people ranting about their child's teacher, attacking his/her classroom rules, discipline calls, and so on. Am I saying that parents shouldn't complain about something they feel a teacher isn't doing right? Absolutely not. I believe that communication between a parent and teacher is one of the key components to a successful education experience. I also believe that that communcation should be done in private. But here's how I feel when it's done on a public forum: I feel ashamed. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel sick, because if that was me, if I somehow stumbled across a blog post a parent had written about me (and honestly, the internet isn't that big), I would be crushed. Because guess what? Like anyone, teachers are human. Teachers make mistakes. Teachers have days where they have a sick child at home, where they're sleep deprived, where they snap at a student for whispering while they're trying to teach, because the kids haven't been on task all day and they just want to do their job. Does that make it right? No, of course not. Are there bad teachers out there? Yes, of course. Just like there are bad mechanics, bad doctors, bad parents, bad actors.
But for the most part, we care. And this is what makes the current teacher bashing climate so hard. We care. We care more than we should, more than our hearts can handle. We go home at night and cry in the shower about the student who has bruises, the student who is getting bullied, the student who lost a parent, the student who was expelled for dealing drugs, the former student whose name is in the police blotter--could I have saved him? We get told to shut up, we get sworn at, we get disrespected in ways you wouldn't imagine. If we gain weight or get a new hair cut, we're subjected to 150 people who feel they have to make a comment on us. We answer to our students, to their parents, to our own bosses.
We pour our heart and soul into lessons, only to look up in the middle of it to see three kids sleeping, one texting, and two throwing paper at each other. When we do something wrong or when someone disagrees with us, we hear about it instantly. But when we do something right, we almost never hear a thank you.
I won't tell you what teachers make, because I can't tell you better than Taylor Mali does. But I can tell you that we care. That we try. That you might think it's a cushy job because summers are off, but the truth is, we need summers to heal the hurts from the past year, to refresh and recharge so that we can do our best. So, I guess I've been silent and unfollowing people and just keeping to myself because it's taken me this long to find an eloquent way to explain how hard this is right now.... and truthfully, I'm just plain tired. Is it summer yet?