If you haven’t yet, please read PART I
I got this response, which I edited for brevity only. I think she pretty much sums it up for most of the teachers I know:
… here’s what I did today: I woke up at 5 so that I could read and edit the college scholarship essay one of my former students sent me; if she gets this scholarship she goes to college, if she doesn’t she stays home. After I dressed myself, woke my son, ate breakfast, etc., I packed the car with the bottles of water and boxes of granola bars I bought for school for those kids who stay after school for the extra help I offer – free of charge – twice a week.
I dropped my son off and headed to school, where I met my morning pal. The only way she gets to school on time is because I created a job for her…she and her younger siblings live with Grandma because Mom is too sick to care for them. It’s this 14-year old’s job to get her siblings ready for school in the morning, and she was missing homeroom and first period because of it. She is now on time. I’m the one who told her what to do the first time she got her period. I’m the one who is paying for her 8th grade formal dress (she thinks she won a contest). I’m the one who listens to her every morning as she rambles on about her life, her hopes, her dreams and tells her that she can do it.
Then I taught two 80-minute periods and made adjectives exciting, made kids feel compassion for an intellectually disabled character in a story, and helped kids craft an argument.
Then I had my prep….where I didn’t get to copy anything on the broken copier so I will probably pay to have them copied at Staples this evening.
Next was lunch. I didn’t eat. I went to the library and held a study session for a group of kids who failed the test on pronouns because they can’t get the difference between objective and subjective case. I created a game this weekend with manipulatives because these kids are all tactile learners. Maybe this will be the thing that makes it stick. If not, we go back at it on Wednesday during lunch.
Now I am sitting in study. I read a student’s journal about the dog they had to put down this weekend and let her cry instead of doing math and wrote her a letter to tell her that I know how much it hurts and reassure her that it’s not silly to grieve over a pet. I also coached a girl through a panic attack without letting anyone else in the room know what was going on.
I will end the school day (but not my day) with a final 80-minute class. After a faculty meeting and an equity team meeting (both of which are required, neither of which are in my contractual day, for those keeping track of the hours I “work”), I will head to the public library. There I will see my son for the first time since dropping him at his school at 7:10 this morning, ask him about his day, give him a quick kiss (so no one else sees) and head to the study room where I will be meeting with a group of my students to help them begin the research process because they still do not understand how to translate nonfiction material. None of this is paid for, but it is necessary for me to be able to help them accomplish their goals.
I will head home at about 5, make dinner, and get my son started on his homework before heading out to his karate class. He helps out for an hour with the younger kids before he has his own class at 8. He is currently a brown belt. We will head home at 9. He will finish his homework and I will grade essays. This entails reading them, finding and commenting on what the student is doing well, and identifying and commenting on weak areas in such a way that the student will know what is wrong AND how to fix it AND will not feel stupid. I will finish or fall asleep at about midnight and start all over tomorrow.
I am not bitter.(emphasis Terry’s) In fact, I love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else. My kids love me and I adore them. I speak to them, look after them, care about them, worry about them as I would my own flash and blood. They are mine, not just for the year I teach them, but for the rest of our lives.
And in 2 weeks, the state will try to measure all of that in a test. If my kids don’t perform well, it’s my fault. Last year, I had a student get a 196 on the test; 200 is the minimum passing score. The newspaper published it as a failure. Nowhere is there room to identify the fact that the year before he got a 147. He worked his ASS off, and the newspaper said he failed. That’s why I am writing this. For me and for most of teachers I know, what we do is not a job. It’s who we are….
I guess this person’s covered. Thanks to all my teachers, (even Ms. Kumfort and Mr. Failed me at Algebra even though I got a 116 on the final, as much as it pains me) Keep it up.