The Truth About Teaching

By: Malena Esposito

From May 8 to 12, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week, but why does it take a national observation to realize that teachers deserve so much more than just a few days of gratitude? Sure, your job is hard, but how about a teacher? The long hours, the constant changing curriculums, the stack of papers, the unappreciative students, the low pay, the list just goes on and on. Here’s just a few reasons why teachers deserve way more credit than they actually get.

You might think teachers are only here when you are, for 6 hours a day, 9 months a year, but it’s actually longer. Those numbers probably seem like paradise compared to what the work hours really are. On top of instructing from 7:25-2:18, teachers must be here by 6:50 and leave by 3:00, while also staying after school even longer to help students or offer retests. That doesn’t even include meetings, parent-teacher conferences, grading papers, and planning. Add all of that up, and teachers may be working 11 hours, almost double the school day. Teachers don’t even get the summer off like we do. Often times, they must attend workshops, meetings, seminars to get ready for the upcoming school year. This also covers learning new technology, repetitive curriculums, preparing lessons, projects, and tests, and attending training.

I know especially around here in Wake County, the curriculum is always changing. One year, WCPSS takes out a unit, the next year they add five more. One year, the exams are teacher made and they count for 25% of our final grade, the next year they’re NCFEs and don’t count at all. The changing curriculum is hard enough for us to keep up with, but how about the ones actually putting it together? Just imagine, you spend your summer coming up with lessons and projects and printing off notes after homework,  after study guides, just to have it completely tossed out. The only thing you can reserve is the syllabus, but even that has to be changed because the county decides to use a completely different operating system.

But what about grading? Endless hours with the red pen and soon enough, you don’t even realize what you’re writing because it’s so continuous. Yeah, sure, we have GradeCam, but what about those English essays? Or the science tri-folds? Or the math questions you can’t use a calculator for? Or what about the video projects for language classes? Yeah, sure, we have GradeCam.

And what about the misbehaving students that just make teachers want to give up entirely? You know the one — you’re thinking of them right now. Maybe they make beats with their pencil, throw trash around, give smart-aleck responses, never do their work, or seem unable to keep their eyes off of their phone. No matter who it is, it ruins the learning for other students and the instruction for their teacher. And no matter what you say, no matter how much help you offer them, they just never seem to quit.

Then of course is the pay, which never seems to be enough. According to the National Education Association, the average pay for a teacher in North Carolina is $38,000. That amount might not seem to bad, but how about the fact that’s almost $8,000 less than the national average, making our state rank 40th in the United States, around $10,000 less than the national average.

But it’s not all bad, being a teacher. Sure, there might be frustrating, difficult days but never boring ones. Every class period can take an unexpected turn. Maybe because of students absent, students present, a Friday, or a school event everyone’s been waiting for. You never know what’ll happen once those students walk through your door.

Then there are the relationships that are made, whether it’s student and teacher or teacher and coworker. Heck, I know two teachers that went on a road trip together, and two others that play pranks with each other throughout the day in between their neighboring classrooms. And everyone has a favorite teacher — one that they’ve connected with more than any other. Maybe they taught you how to multiply when you were in third grade or prepared you for SATs in tenth. Regardless of when they inspired you, you’ve remembered them for all this time; they possibly even molded you into the person you are today.

Or what about the mini-victories teachers have? That “super hard” unit? Everyone got above an 85 on the test. The online project? Everyone submitted it correctly – the first time. The shortcut they came up with and showed the class? It was used countless times. There are so many little victories that teachers accomplish that make it all worthwhile. Imagine knowing that  someone understands something, that someone is good at something, all because of you.

Bottom line, teachers are underappreciated, and they shouldn’t be. Teachers are educating the future generations of our country. Teachers are pouring their hearts out into what they love, and it’s not always easy. Teachers are dedicating their social lives just so you know what a parabola is. So, next time you get frustrated with a teacher for not grading something fast enough, or wonder when on earth you’re going use that information again, realize that teachers have a lot more going on then you think.