Disclaimer : This post is based on personal experiences and is not directed at any person or institution in particular. Also, this is going to be a long post so be patient.
This post has been on my mind for quite sometime now but I never had the courage to write it. It has been about 4 1/2 months since I stopped teaching and the teaching habit or instinct hasn’t left me and I guess it never will. It is a part of who I am as a person.
I read a Facebook post recently by a fellow teacher who echoed my feelings and resentment. Hats off to her bold and courageous decision of putting her feelings and thoughts out into the open. The word needs to get out there and that is why I’m writing today.
I was desperate to get into this profession and had dreams of educating and inspiring young minds. I acquired a teaching diploma and imagined a wonderful career ahead and looked forward to building a sound relationship with my students. Thankfully in my 2 1/2 short years of teaching I did build good relationships with my students.
But, the system hit me hard and I called it quits. Being a disrespected, underpaid and disregarded teacher could no longer continue to be my thing. The underpaid can still get brushed under the carpet. The complete disregard and disrespect cannot. If there’s anything important to anyone it’s their self-respect.
We are not looked at as teachers or educators anymore, but as mere third grade employees by the administration and caretakers by parents. We are time and again reminded of how we get the summer off and get to leave work earlier than others.
What everyone does not know is that we spend those summers preparing for our class in the coming academic year and also spend those underpaid summers buying supplies and decorations for our class. 90% of class deco, stationery, other supplies, class set ups and even daily prints for lessons and activities are paid for from our own little pocket.
What everyone does not know is that we are often reminded of that much needed summer break by the administration and hence overworked during the other months. Sick leaves or leave required for any other valid reason are hard to get.
What people never notice is that we carry tons of notebooks, assignments, test papers, diagnostics, creative write ups etc. home each day. Hence we do not relax even at home. Not to forget that teachers also need to formulate the above things before they go out, which then return to us for grading. Oh! and do not forget the tons of events that we organize and coach students for.
As passionate teachers we give it our heart and soul. We genuinely want our students to succeed and excel in everything they do. We provide support in and out of school, we educate them not just in formal subjects but deal with their life issues, guide them and take care of them emotionally. I for one will never forget those special few who improved in character as a result of continued support and guidance.
And what do we ask in return? A little respect, importance and a slightly higher pay wouldn’t hurt. On the contrary the administration pins bad results or bad behavior by students on us, pleases the parents and gives us absolutely no freedom in our teaching process.
These days we are dumped with paperwork and at the same time expected to deliver top notch lessons and grades at all times. The entire focus is on the teacher. During all of this students are not expected or supposed to be taught responsibility, accountability and required mannerisms. No accountability is taken by parents either for misconduct or bad behavior and they are ready to lash out at the teacher.
Despite continued guidance and support and frequent reminders to both administration and parents of student performance, we’re called in for questioning over students who fail to achieve the required grade. Many a times I have been forced to revise student grades.
Teachers never want their students to fail. In fact, we take extra care that they don’t. But if they do, shouldn’t they learn to fail, take responsibility and rise up?
As a teacher my students were all I ever talked of and thought of to the point that I overlooked my little beings at times. But in return I’ve had parents lash out at me and hold me responsible for apparently not grading their child’s paper appropriately. The administration accommodates such parents and gives them priority because that’s where the bucks come from.
I’ve had students walk into class and drop their bag to the floor expecting me to hang it on their hook. And later had parents questioning the admin as to why their children are expected to do so. Fellow teachers have told me of instances when mothers have arrived at PTMs asking the teacher why their child fails to have household manners and social etiquette. Apparently that too is the teacher’s responsibility.
This has just got to stop, Right Now. Parents and administration need to stop pampering and giving in to these children. We just need to stop giving them that power. Internet and social media already gives it to them and more so it applauds such behavior. It is our job to bring them to ground reality and educate them in all aspects.
There seems to be this huge gap between the teachers, administration and parents. Some schools have overcome this but most have not. And in this triangle, the teacher suffers the most. Parents have a multitude of options when it comes to schools these days, the school besides everything still continues to make its required money / profit; but at the end of the day it is the teacher that is hurt. When thought of deeply, it is also the students who suffer by the lack of quality education that they deserve.
The major challenge faced by schools these days is retention of quality teachers. I’ve seen schools that run their adverts of “Teachers required” all year round just because they fail to value and retain their teachers.
As a result of it all, some of us quit and others who are stronger than I was, still go on and on and on for years together. I salute them, as I am not as brave as them. Few others lose their passion for teaching in this twisted and tiresome journey.
I do not know how to solve this but all I know is that THIS HAS TO END. But I also know that this is not the end of the tunnel, things can get better. Sufficient authority needs to be given to teachers, proper rules and systems need to be adhered to. Very often the fees sky rocket but teacher salaries still are at rock bottom.
With tons of research done in all sorts of fields and topics, maybe people should get together and figure out a system where it’s a win-win for all. Where we are in the education industry for the sole purpose of truly holistically educating the little minds that walk in. You’ve got to believe me when I say that there’s nothing that a teacher values more. The greatest high for us is when at the end of each day, we have achieved what we set out to do, EDUCATE!!