Who Am I
I am a Techie. I work behind the scenes. I come in, fix your computer and leave. I dress too casual, generally hear too much, and speak way too honest. And somehow during the year where it all came undone, I got drafted out of my world behind the scenes to teach a bunch of high schoolers in computer class. Boy, did I learn some things. So now let me lay down some harsh truths that everyone needs to hear since most teachers who chose that profession on purpose are far too sensible to actual voice what needs to be said. I know that what I say may not be typical for all teachers and all schools, but is just based on my observations.
#1 — This job puts us at insane risk
Everyone talked about how opening schools put children at risk for the virus. People seemed to forget that it is the teachers who were most exposed. We have 15–25 kids in a class during any given class period. They may be separated now due to new standards. Maybe we have plexiglass dividers, probably that we bought ourselves with our paycheck. But often to teach we still have to go to each desk to help kids individually. There isn’t a way around this. Then class changes and we have maybe 2 minutes to take Clorox wipes and rapidly wipe down everything that was possibly been touched, leaned on, breathed on, in the last hour before the next set of slightly different germy kids comes to reinfect all the surfaces. Most teachers are older and at higher risk already. A single class is already bigger than “a large group of 10”. Deaths are happening. I have seen them. I have been to the funerals. To teach your kid Spanish someone lost their husband.
#2 — Sports are not the point of school
Believe it or not, your kid is probably not a future NBA player. If I am taller than him, you should probably consider other career options. In a school of 500 people, being a starter on varsity is impressive but not so impressive once you leave the county lines. Can you get a scholarship of some sort for sports to a local school? Probably. But if kids in other districts don’t know your name by junior year, then neither do colleges. I do not care if you sleeping in my class prevents you from playing football this year. You should not have slept. Having your father come in and rant to me about how you are going to be a huge college star one day and have to play and it is more important than my class is not going to change my mind. It is instead going to have me question the sanity of the entire family. Especially during this pandemic, sports should be the last thing to focus on. They are simply spreading the virus and causing more risk with no reward.
#3 — That grade was earned
99.9% of teachers do not play favorites. Heck, most teachers will actively go out of their way to help kids that show effort. If your kid has a 0, there is a huge chance that he was given multiple opportunities to come up with the work and simply decided it was too much effort. Once a kid stops putting in effort of any sort, the teacher loses any sort of interest in making their lives easier. But still, a teacher is not going to deliberately fail a kid, despite an awful attitude. Your kid will get what they earn. There are a couple of exceptions. If your child got a high grade, the choices are: your child earned a high grade, the teacher deliberately helped your child out and made it higher on purpose for some reason, it was a group project, or the administration forcibly required the teacher to change the grade to higher than was earned. If your child got a low grade, the choices are: your child earned a low grade, your child did not turn anything in, or it was a group project. I have never come across a teacher who would deliberately curve down or give a child something meant to fail them.
#4 — We have no authority
I was very surprised to learn that in the period between when I graduated high school and when I ended up back teaching it, things had changed. I had assumed that being a teacher meant that rules within my classroom would be followed and if they were not that I could take some sort of disciplinary action. Seems that is not how things work anymore. Now rules must be made explicitly clear. Because it seems that parents and students are too stupid to simply understand that it would be improper behavior for a 16-year-old boy to stand on the table and jump to touch the ceiling. We also must warn students repeatedly about these rules as expecting them to know or remember rules like no hats in the hallway, no cellphones in the bathroom, no juling on school grounds, and no speeding in the parking lot is far too difficult. Finally, should we choose to attempt to enact some sort of punishment, we will be hauled into the principles office. There we will face a barrage of fire from the student and his parents where we must offer unshakable proof that the child has done what we have accused him of, but where our word holds the equivalent value of a wet paper bag. If we can’t prove it, it didn’t happen; the student will be backed by the parents, and we as teachers may or may not be backed by the administration.
So basically teachers get run over, pushed around, have to plan and grade and schedule long after school hours are done. The kids run the place because the parents think they do no wrong. Most teachers can’t support themselves and rely on a second income that comes from either a second job or a working partner. The teachers that have been there so long, that decided to go into this noble profession seriously for the joy of imparting wisdom to a future generation are absolute treasures. Yet we as a society are doing our absolute best to drive them out. No pay, awful conditions, terrible parents, and an incredible lack of respect. Just some humble advice from a teacher who doesn’t want to be, we will suffer greatly if we do not start treating those “born-to-teach” teachers better.