I've known since I was in kindergarten that I was going to be a teacher. As I moved up the ladder of education, so did the grade level I wanted to teach. I'm currently a junior in college and I'm planning on teaching high school. However, there's always time for me to look into higher-level education.
When people hear that I want to teach, I always get a variety of mixed responses. Some people are genuinely happy for me because they can see that I'm passionate in my area of study. Some people commend me for choosing a career that, let's be honest, isn't going to make me a millionaire (unless I win the lottery, write a bestseller or something changes in our government spending). While these are some comments I can live with, there are some things that I'm just sick and tired of hearing.
1. Are you sure you want to teach?
I mean, I've only been pretty sure about becoming a teacher for 15 years. But you know, maybe I'll change my mind and become a insurance salesperson or something.
2. Teaching is an easy job.
Oh sweetness, you're funny.
3. But you get summers and holidays off.
Sure, teachers have summers off from teaching in schools, but that doesn't mean that they have the summers off. Many teachers work two jobs the whole year. But you just keep thinking that.
4. Teacher-work days are just free days for teachers.
Actually, teacher work days are for work. During these days, teachers attend department meetings, PLT meetings, cross curriculum meetings and faculty meetings. They also catch up on grading and planning for their three to eight different classes.
5. You're done with work at three everyday.
You're right, teaching is not a nine to five job. As a high school teacher, I'm expected to be at the school before seven. The final bell may ring around three, but most teachers don't leave until two hours after the final bell has rung. But that doesn't mean I'm done with my work. Most teachers still have papers and homework to grade, and lessons to plan. The worst part is that teachers don't get paid overtime. So yes, I'm "done" by three, but I'm not finished until seven or eight o' clock that night.
6. Teachers are basically babysitters.
OK, time for a math lesson. Let's say an average babysitter gets paid $10 an hour for babysitting one kid. An average class is about 30 students. School lasts eight hours. So, 10 x 30 x 8 = $2,400 a day. Multiple this by the average 180 day school year, and you get $432,000. However, the average teacher makes $40,000 a year. If we divide that by 180 days, that's $222.22 a day. Now divide that by eight; you'd get $27 an hour. Now let's divide that by 30 for each student. If teachers are babysitters, they work for 92 cents an hour per kid. So when I start making the average pay of a babysitter, you may call me your child's babysitter rather than their teacher.
7. Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.
I think this is the most infuriating sentence anyone can ever mutter to a teacher. So please, just don't say it.
8. Why do you want to teach "X" level of grade?
Don't ask a teacher why they want to teach a certain grade. Just don't. I'm planning on teaching sophomores in high school. Here's why: Little kids stress me out and high school students are sassy and amusing. I enjoy the curriculum more. I just want to.
9. Why did you give my child a bad grade?
Your child earned the grade they received. Teachers don't give grades like parents give out candy on Halloween. Students earn their grades, much like when adults earn a promotion at work. Going to school is a job, not an eight hour free-period.
10. Why don't you do your job the right way.
Listen, I don't come into your place of business to berate you and tell you how to perform your job. And the excuse, "Well, I went to school," does not give you permission to tell me how to do my job. Just because I've been to the doctor's office doesn't make me a doctor.
11. But what about the pay?
People don't become teachers for the money -- plain and simple. I'm not worried about how much money I'm going to make, so neither should you.
12. What if you can't get a job?
Congratulations, you made Kristen Stewart laugh. The great thing about becoming a teacher is that there is always a need for us. After all, we are responsible for educating future generations.
13. But you got your degree in education. What if you don't want to teach anymore?
So you've made a good point. Some people believe that a degree can limit your opportunities depending on your major, but the beautiful thing about being a teacher is that if someone wanted to leave the profession, they would still be able to find a job, regardless of their degree. Teachers are organized, professional leaders, along with being a teacher. They can put any of their skills to any corporate job. Plus, they can always go on to receive training for a specific career or go back to school for an advanced degree.
The one thing teachers are tired of not hearing is, "Why do you want to teach?"
I don't think anyone has ever asked me this question, other than when I was interviewing for Meredith Teaching Fellows. I want to challenge my students. I want to make them appreciate English and see the importance of literature. I want my students to have a voice. I want them to see their full potential. I want them to remember my class and how much work it was, but then for them to say, "It was a great class." I want to make a difference in my students' lives, no matter how small. I don't want people to see me as "just a teacher." I want them to see me as a teacher, a mentor and someone who cares because at the end of the day, teachers change lives. That's why being a teacher is my career.