I have always said that only teachers undersatnd what it is like to be a teacher. I had no idea how stressful this job could be. It is more challenging than be a police officer and I was one so I should know. Most people don’t believe me when I say this, so I’ll explain.
A law enforcement officer goes to has spent either 16 weeks at a police academy or took several courses to then apply for a job. A teacher spend 4 years at a college and maybe an extra year to get credentialled, then takes several state tests to see if you are still smart enough to teach. I took a $250 multiple choice and essay writing test all taking about 3 hours, then another tests to make sure I could teach California children how to read. That was about the same cost. And now teachers must also get into a Beginning Teacher program that lasts 2 years, paid for by you or your school district so again make sure you know what you’re doing. Now if you get hired, the real deal begins.
Lesson planning, preparing the materials for the lesson. adapting and modifying the lesson for each level of learner in your classroom, managing the children’s learning and behavior in the classroom, making phone calls home, parent teacher meetings, after school staff meetings, department meetings, professional development meetings, back to school night, open house, shopping for materials for the classroom, breaking up fights in the yard, and sometimes in class, monitoring the amount of time you have before the next bell rings, yard duty, after school homework clubs, evening phone calls to parents that you couldn’t reach during the day, parents who never think their children do anything wrong so it must be the teacher, childern whose parents are absent from the education equation and believe their childrfen will learn without any support at home, and grading papers at night and on the weekends because there is no time during the day.
Now, those who say ,”Well you get the whole summer off.” I say this to those. Teachers are under a contract for the number of schools they work. If I did not have summers off I would NEVER have remained in education. This job would be almost if not impossible to do without time to shut down. It’s too much. And since we also are spending more time with children than some of their parents do, why don’t we get paid at a babysitters rate, which would be a much larger salary than teachers have now.
My brother thought about being a teacher as his second career, but then he observed a high school class. he stood in the back as he watched students listening to music, swearing, yelling at each other, and basically socializing all while the teacher was trying to instruct the class. One student turned to him and said, “Who are you?”. And not in a cute friendly way. He was done.
My first year of teacing was in a 1st grade classroom 17 years ago. I remember that I felt like a 3 ring circus master trying to keep order and juggling plates on sticks at the same time. My head was spinning. No, literally I was dizzy, One child was playing cars with his crayons, another was crawling under the desk, another ran out the the play yard to hit the tetherball, and others were “visiting’ with their friends in the desks next to them.
Now I , and others, consider me a wonderful teacher and students love me, however, the stress is overwhelming most of the time. The bright moments are too far in between. As a police officer, I went to line up, got in my car, patrolled the streets, answered dispatched calls, wrote reports, arrested people, and made trips to the jail or court, then I went home. My day was done. The stress felt by a teacher can be continuous throughout the day, through the evening and often weekends. I didn’t have to plan for my day as an officer, and I didn’t have to manage 35 people for 7 hours.
I don’t think the leaders of the United States really appreciate what teachers do and the training necessary to become one. 60% of teachers quit within the first 5 years of teaching. Maybe because women are the majority of teachers and the pay was low centuries ago it has stayed that way. I wonder if it were a primarily male dominated career if the pay would be higher. If the government really believed education was important they would give more than 7% of every discretionary tax dollar to the federal education budget. Politicians say they value education, but they don’t show it. Low pay, low government support, a female dominated job, and the rhetoric that scapegoats teachers when students do poorly in school have made teaching a career that lacks the respect it should receive and adds to the aggravation and frustration which only exerbates the stress that has accompanied the teaching profession.