So you want to be a teacher and make a difference! That’s noble! Also, what the hell is wrong with you?
When I was young, I had these romantic notions of what it meant to be a teacher.
I envisioned all of the “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “Dead Poet’s Society” scenarios, and I scoffed at the old geezers who bemoaned their jobs and their lack of dough.
Now, I am that old geezer trying to ease into retirement. This is my 30th year as a teacher and I have one message for any young, energetic , optimistic person who is just dying to get into teaching- don’t.
The current dearth of people wanting to be teachers is not a surprise to those of us who have been in the profession for a while.
It is a byproduct of a country that really doesn’t know where the hell it is going.
I legitimately enjoy working with kids, I work in a great school, and I have awesome colleagues and even I wouldn’t suggest the profession to anyone for myriad reasons.
The primary reason of course is economical. If a person doesn’t mind living alone, teaching is probably fine. However, even those who are single and enjoy it will probably find home ownership a major issue. I think most adults want to own a house, but for teachers, especially single ones, that is difficult and will probably require extra work in the form of a second job. For those who marry and have kids, the economic pressure can be immense, unless a spouse is in a better paying job.
I know “Wah wah wah” and teachers don’t get into it for the pay right?
Of course we do it for the pay.
It’s not a f@cking hobby now is it?
While we know we won’t be wealthy, the expectation is to be comfortable, but when the systems routinely go years and years without giving people raises being comfortable goes out the window.
For the longest time, school systems’ response to our gripes were essentially “If you don’t like it , leave”.
How long is that attitude going to be conducive to people entering a profession?
The answer is , however long it was, time’s up.
While the school systems are partly to blame , so is society in general.
I remember a few years ago in Fairfax County, a restaurant tax was proposed. The revenue for the tax was supposed to go to paying teachers more.
It was voted down.
I don’t blame people for voting it down- people are going to do what is right for them and since , by and large, teachers weren’t leaving and the public didn’t perceive a decline in service due to the lack of additional pay, they voted with their wallets.
Again, that is good for the short term, but for those of us who have been hearing people say “You should get paid more” (which is well intended but kind of insulting too) we sort of faced the harsh reality of where we stand.
To compound all of this, the political land mines that exist in schools now are ubiquitous.
In speech and debate class, can I mention how wrong I think it is that “under God” is in the Pledge of Allegiance? Do I dare bring up the Leah Thomas situation, or if I do so am I opening the door to be accused of transphobia? Can euthanasia , like in “Of Mice and Men” , be discussed? If there is some reference to philandering, as in “The Great Gatsby”, is someone going accuse me of advocating rampant sexuality?
Any time you want to discuss real world situations now, you better keep an eye on what it may cost you- ie your job.
Add into the cauldron ridiculous grading scales, incredibly lax policies on due dates, virtually no accountability for students in regard to attendance , and the inability to tell a student who consistently talks while you are talking to shut their mouth without fear of being labeled a monster, and you have a recipe for a profession that nobody wants to enter.
It used to be better. You used to be able to say to students “It is important that you understand that your views are subjective. It is important that you and other kids, whose views are also subjective, recognize that you may disagree and then you all work to find common ground and maybe recognize your own bias in the process.”
But , now it’s too often “ You can’t say my views are subjective and if you suggest that they are or that I should rethink them or even ask me to entertain the slightest notion that other people may have validity in their own views, I am gonna tell on you”.
Not many kids act this way, but enough do that after some classes you replay what you said in your head and sometimes think “uh oh”.
So, all of this subjectivity ends up in the objective reality that people don’t want to teach.
I don’t blame them.