Since Newton, I have been especially moved by the incredible sacrifices made by the teachers and principal. I thought about how the parents out there and how little respect teachers get from the parents of the children they teach. I thought about how little respect teachers get at all from our entire society. It is depressing.
I am a teacher. Being a teacher is not like being a stock broker. You don’t ever do it for the money. *snort* It’s definitely not about the money. It’s not about the awesome benefits. It’s nothing to do with having the summer off. It’s not about the 8:00-3:00 workday (ha it never, ever ends at 3). It is a calling. It is like being called to be a priest or a nun or a missionary. I remember very clearly when I met the children that would be my students and I knew absolutely that our destinies were intertwined. I moved across the country because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that these children were meant to be in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. I love them still. I often think of the children that have been part of my life. There have been many and each and every one has touched me in some way. It doesn’t mean that every single day was rosy and beautiful although there were some moments that were so rosy and beautiful that my whole heart fills with light when I think about them. Some days were terrible. Some days were wonderful.
The life of a teacher is never dull. Not always in a good way. There are always late night phone calls. I’ve gotten yelled and screamed at by parents more times than I care to calculate. Last year, I directed a before and after care program. Nothing that happened was ever the fault of the child but always my fault. It is always impossible to make every parent happy but you always try. I got heat for not having a weekly tea from some and why I added a weekly tea to the schedule people were upset too. Parents get upset over things worth getting upset over, certainly. But I never imagined I would be on the phone with an upset parent because their child was unhappy over the part she got assigned in the class play. On the other hand, when the parents are happy, they are very caring and giving. I was so taken care of by the parents of my students when I taught Waldorf school in a way that I haven’t encountered anywhere else. It was truly a family situation. That said, no one signs up to be a teacher because they can’t wait to spend a good portion of their free time dealing with parents. I say that now from a parent’s perspective.
There are meetings, meetings, and then a few more meetings. There are older and “wiser” teachers that are bullies. There are screaming fights in the hallways. There are faculty meetings so tense that you literally think you might burst before you can get out of that room. And then you go to another meeting.
Then you go home and try to muster up an ounce of strength so you can plan for teaching the next day. You try and find something to wear and if you fail to wash your school clothes and try to get away with something casual, everyone whispers. Especially in a Waldorf school. I once wore a black tunic and leggings to school because I had exhausted all options and possibilities. I’m pretty sure there was a collective faint by the adults in the school. You try and remember to feed yourself and most nights I sat struggling with drawing while I ate dinner. Just by the way, in Waldorf drawing, the form must come up organically and you must never outline.
There is always something to work on. You never master teaching even when you are a master teacher. There is always something to learn. You don’t become a teacher because it is easy. You don’t become a teacher because one day you’ll just be able to breeze through it in your sleep. You become a teacher because you love children. I became a teacher because I love children. That is the most important reason. I love children and I wanted to make a teeny, tiny difference in one child’s life if I could.
As a teacher, I know that if there were a horrific event at my school, I would do whatever I had to do to keep those children safe. I am so moved by the heroism that we have just seen. Mr. Roger’s was right, there is always a hero.
It is my great hope that no teacher ever has to be a hero like that again. So hug your teacher. Give him/her a break once in awhile. You have no idea what they might be dealing with in addition to dealing with you little angel genius. Give him/her a nice holiday gift. Don’t call every time your child seems upset about something. It’s ok. But do cherish this person. Be grateful that there is someone out there that would go to extraordinary lengths for your child. This person might be struggling. She might be exhausted and dealing with things you can’t even imagine. Let’s all give teacher a break. Let’s give them a pay raise. Let’s stop saying idiotic things like “those who can’t, teach” because that is ridiculous. And let’s all give them the respect they deserve because being in a room with 26 first graders is not always the greatest picnic ever. Teachers are amazing. The end.