While I have not stepped foot into a classroom as an educator in over eleven years, I still consider myself a teacher at heart. I started teaching when I was twelve, working with four year olds at Safety Town. I then moved on to assisting with my old middle school band when I was in high school, to teaching flute lessons and band camp while in college, straight through to a teaching degree and licensure in two states. So while I’d rather take a long trip off a short pier rather than return to a classroom, I do still consider myself a teacher. God knows I do enough teaching and reteaching of lessons here at home. Wish I could call that continuing education, in case I ever do need to update my Illinois license.
All that said, and despite the fact I’m trying to craft an email to a teacher that does not sound like I’m exploding with
pent up rage frustration, I respect teachers to the moon and back. A couple gazillion times. They’re the ones on the front lines of education, having to not only teach but put up with a metric ton of bullshit on a daily basis. And then get blamed for everything in education, when really they’re kicking ass trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.
This, respecting teachers, has been bouncing around my head for about a week now. When Tom and I went in for the 504 meeting that really wasn’t last week, we had to wait in the office before being summoned. I’d been in there several times, but not really long enough to take a good look. It’s your typical elementary school office, smells of Xeroxes with a hint of hand sanitizer, and attempts to look sweet to children and professional to adults. There was a bulletin board with newspaper clippings tacked up there, and one of them caught my eye. “District <redacted> celebrates outstanding teachers” or something like that. Accompanying the article was a picture of maybe thirty teachers, mainly women (because men are afraid of teaching elementary school, they might get The Cooties) squished together to all fit in the camera frame.
And half of them were kneeling for the photo.
Lemme ‘splain why this bothers me. Would you ever expect to see business executives kneel on the floor to get into a photo for an article celebrating their excellence? Of course not. They are professionals. So why do we allow this for our teachers? Why is this ok? And why does no one shout out THIS IS WRONG! WE RESPECT OUR TEACHERS MORE THAN THIS! THEY ARE PROFESSIONALS! Good grief, my senior year of high school I was in a photo celebrating top leaders and we weren’t on our knees.
Teachers are professionals. They are good at what they do (with some very notable exceptions). They work their asses off (with some very notable exceptions). They get paid shit (no exceptions here). And they are not afforded the respect most of them deserve. This has to stop. These folks teach our kids, put up with us, are blamed for society’s ills. I’m begging you, give the professionals the respect they’ve earned if they’ve earned it.
I’ll get down on my knees.