Photo courtesy of atlantablackstar.com
(HAVING WORKED WITH KIDS IN SOME CAPACITY FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS, AND COMING FROM A FAMILY OF EDUCATORS, I THINK I’M QUALIFIED TO WRITE A PIECE LIKE THIS)
You enter the profession thinking you’re going to get three months off in the summer just like when you were a kid, but you don’t because you’re teaching summer school because of little things like needing to pay bills and the rent.
You buy paper, pencils and other supplies with your own money because your students can’t afford them.
You find yourself keeping a stash of food in a classroom closet because every so often at least one of your students fails to eat breakfast due to their parents’ lack of money.
You’re praying that no one has run off every time you count heads on field trips.
Students give you every excuse in the book as to why they didn’t do their homework, when in fact they were too lazy to do it.
You find yourself quite annoyed on pupil free days due to the kids getting the day off, while you are forced to waste your time at in-service sessions with people who don’t know what they’re talking about.
You find yourself on the phone with parents every night because their kids are failing math or have disrespectful mouths.
Kids curse you out, flip you off, call you vile names, or a combination of the three when you tell them to get back on task.
You’re breaking up brawls in the classroom.
You’re calling the school police because a student threatens you with bodily harm.
A student throws a chair at you and gets off scott-free because his mom tearfully begs for mercy at his expulsion hearing; a former colleague of mine has had this actually happen to her.
You send a student to the principal’s office for the first time.
You catch a kid copying off someone’s paper during a test.
The parents of your worst students – the thugs, the gang-bangers and the stoners who show no interest in learning – live in an Egyptian river (the Nile) and blame you for their failures.
You get sent disciplinary memos for not wearing hard sole shoes and a button down shirt and tie.
After twenty years of award-winning service, your school fires you after one bad evaluation; I was told of that actually happening.
A straight-F student you’ve been working with all years improves by leaps and bounds and gets A’s and B’s; a golden example of hard work paying off.
You get cards, candies, and presents every Valentine’s Day, the day before Winter Break, and the last day of school.
Former students of yours come back to visit years later, and you marvel at how much they have grown.
You’re teaching the children of students you once had, which freaks you out.
A student gets a crush on you.
You get “Teacher’s Pets” who always help you out – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
You’re told by your class, or by individual kids, that you’re their favorite teacher.
You celebrate with your students when they get their college acceptance emails, especially – come on, be honest – when that college is your alma mater (UCLA in my case).
Your students wear that cap and gown at graduation, and you feel pride knowing that you’re one of the reasons they’re getting that diploma.
You realize that despite all the problems – badly behaving kids, low pay, no job security – it’s all worth it because you’re helping to make a difference in young people’s lives.