Why We Need to Support Our Teachers

Why We Need to Support Our Teachers

A perspective on the sacrifices teachers in public schools make, and the need for improvement in the US public education sector.

Image by Pexels (Pixabay)

Sidenote: The plot and characters in this story are entirely fiction.

The alarm rang, and I pressed snooze.

The alarm went off again, and I pressed snooze one more time.

By the third time the alarm went off, I gathered enough strength for me to get out of bed. It was 6:30am, and I needed to leave the house by 7am to catch the 7:10am bus.

"I should get there by 8am" I told myself.

After brushing my teeth, I had breakfast, which was cereal, Bran Flakes to be exact. As I chewed the bland yet cheap cereal, I reviewed my biology lesson for the day.

About 10 minutes later, I grabbed my heavy bag, filled with pencils, pens, and extra paper for my students, and walked out of the door. Since some of the students didn't have their own school supplies, I bought them with my own money; I care dearly about my students.

As soon as the bus doors creaked open, I ran off and across the street to _____ middle school. It was 7:57am and I always hated being late.

"Good morning class, today, we are going to be going over what is inside a cell" I said to my morning class. The room cramped with 30 students was not great, and sometimes it was overwhelming to teach this many students by myself for 2 hours. But I always managed to get by.

When recess came, I found that the school supplies I bought for the students were half-gone. While I was glad my students were using my supplies, it made me further stress over how I would manage my bills, groceries, transportation, and school supply costs with my low salary.

Since it was Friday, and there were 10 minutes left of recess, I looked at my lesson plan for Monday.

"Buy Anatomy Textbook version 16 for afternoon class" it said.

When I found that the price of the book was about $90, I froze, but was able to calm down, and ordered an older version on Amazon for $60.

After teaching my 2nd morning class about what is inside the cell, the lunch bell rang, and I ran to the breakroom. I was planning to use the school computer for my physiology lessons for my afternoon classes, but the middle school only had one that worked.

When I reached the breakroom, I saw that all the other teachers were sitting down, with our union rep giving a speech to the room. I was able to slip into the room silently without disturbance, and sat next to the desk that had the school computer.

"Ok everyone I hear all of your concerns. We have heard all of your complaints about large class sizes, the lack of school supplies funded by the city, and the lack of educational technology" the rep stated.

"Starting tomorrow, we are going to be conducting our first strike. We have given the city of Chicago plenty of warning, and don't worry, our students who receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner will continue to be fed. While we understand that our strike affects our students, remember that this strike is for them. We can't do our jobs when we have low salaries, deal with too many students in classrooms, and have to pay for textbooks and school supplies out of our own pockets. Thank you for your time, and I will see you all tomorrow in front of City Hall at 9am" the rep explained.

As soon as the union rep left, the teachers went to eating their lunches, and I was able to negotiate with some of the teachers that I would use the computer for about 20 minutes of my class, then Jenny, who teaches Algebra would use it, then Maria who teachers History will use it after to play a video.

The bell rang soon after, and I taught again over 35 students about the important components of the cell. I made sure to use the computer as much as I could, in order to further add to the lesson. However, when Jenny knocked on the door, I gave it to her, and I was left to teach the rest of the lesson with just a marker in my hand, and the regular-sized whiteboard behind me.

Despite school ending at 3pm for students, I stayed working on papers until 6pm, then waited outside for 10 minutes, waiting to catch the 6:10pm bus back home.

When I got back to my apartment around 7:30pm, I barely had enough energy to make myself dinner, watched tv for 45 minutes, then continued to work on class papers until 12am.

"Wow, how did I forget?" I asked myself.

I forgot that the strike was the next morning, and stopped grading student papers.

I felt sad not teaching the next morning, yet when standing with my fellow teachers that morning demanding better public education, I felt empowered, not only for myself, but for the future of my students.

For Further Reading:

ABC7 Chicago "Chicago Teachers Strike: CPS cancels classes Wednesday, CTU plans protest at mayor's budget address"

Katie Reilly " 13 Stories of Life on a Teacher's Salary"

Katie Reilly "'This Is for Our 16,000 Homeless Children.' How the Chicago Teachers' Strike Extends Beyond School Issues"

Robin Meade "Chicago teacher: I'm angry. I'm not going to sit down"

Simon, Kirkos, and Jimenez ""As the Chicago teachers' strike drags on, student athletes are affected"

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