As many of you know, being a teacher isn't something that people congratulate you on when they ask what your major in college is. Especially if you are an education major in Oklahoma. I always love the responses I get such as "Oh, you better marry rich" and "Well you are too smart for that." My favorite one of all time is “You are going to be broke for the rest of your life." Hearing all these things makes future teachers feel awful that we chose the profession just because it isn't as high paying as a doctor or lawyer. Teachers do so much and get recognized for so little. They deserve way more than they get in pay, respect and support.
To become a teacher is the hardest thing to do and most people don't understand. In the state of Oklahoma, you have to pass three exams and 10 competencies, which are an equivalent to an essay, along with making either an A or B in most of the classes you take. There is so much information that it is a 4 1/2 year degree instead of a four year degree. People don't understand that becoming a teacher is hard but so rewarding. Teachers do a lot of things parents and people don't realize they do. This job doesn't end at 3 p.m. and pick up at 8 a.m. the next day, it requires taking home papers, staying late at school, taking lesson plans home, and so much more. It is a full time job and even though school is only in session for nine months teachers work year round learning new material and getting their classrooms ready for the next school year. There are always conferences to go to and the curriculum changes constantly. Not only do they have to teach to each kid's individual learning style and make sure every single kid is performing the best of their ability. It is a hard job and people just don't understand that.
Another quality for this profession is you have to be dedicated and passionate about the kids, teenagers and even adults that are being taught. It takes a special kind of person that has patience and is kind. Kids and teenagers need those people that truly care about them so they will succeed. There are many things I am still learning about this profession, but what I have learned is that teaching means keeping crackers in your desk for the kids who don't eat before school because they don't have the money, keeping extra clothes and hygiene products for those kids who don't always have clean clothes or smell great every day, and keeping extra money on you for those privilege days so one kid doesn't feel left out or worried that other kids will make fun of them because they can't afford a dollar for pop.
Teaching is so much more then what people see. Teachers deserve respect, love and support for what they are doing. Next time someone says they are becoming a teacher say oh great you will make a great one or awesome choice. Remember that not every profession is glorious, but if a profession has kids coming back to you 10 years saying "I am graduating because you believed in me," then that is worth more than any amount of money. Show respect to all teachers and remember they are spending so much more time and money than anyone could ever think of. Tell a teacher you love them and respect them today because they need support too.