So it’s Wednesday of teacher appreciation week, and I’m sitting here feeling more humbled and appreciated than I have in a really long time. Is it because of all of the snacks we’ve gotten? The pay raise? (HA!) Nope. It’s because of the love I’m feeling from students past and present, and the memories that I hold dear.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t see the actuality of what we do. I was discussing with family how stressful teaching is. How there are plenty of teachers who come into this profession and end up on the verge of mental breakdown, that end up on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to help regulate their moods. How we strive to make a difference in our students’ lives, often at a great cost to ourselves. And their response? “I have no pity for any of you. You knew what you were doing. It’s just a job. You have a degree. You could get a different job. If it’s so bad, quit.”
But isn’t that it? Do you want teachers in your buildings who lack the capacity to empathize with the whole child? Do you want teachers who are here for a paycheck and couldn’t care less about the student and their situation. Do you want teachers who stand idly by while a student is going through a crisis. Do you want someone who won’t give a hug or helpful advice because it might cause them to care too much?
I don’t understand that mentality. Sure, getting another job might be a possibility, but as someone who is in the business of trying to help students realize the great variety that life has to offer once they leave these halls, is that the message we want to send? That it’s just a paycheck at the end of the day, and that we can always just move on if the stress gets to be too much?
Instead, why can’t we help the people in this profession feel better. Provide them with access to mental health professionals. Give us opportunities to destress and enjoy all that teaching has to offer. Give us the ability to take time to get to know our kids and share some of what we enjoy with them, instead of the constant bombardment of data collection points and curriculum standard numbers. Don’t shun people for needing help to shoulder all that teaching entails. Because it entails a lot.
I’d rather have people fully equipped and willing to handle all it comes with, than someone who is cold and reduces it down to nothing more than a number and a paycheck.
But what do I know?
My choice in life was to be a teacher…