Why it’s Tough To Be a Teacher

School starts soon. I look forward to teaching; I do not look forward to school. Why is that?

let’s start with the way I was treated at the end of the year. I was told the last day, when I was supposed to be finishing up end-of-year paperwork and cleaning my room up, that I had to vacate my room by the end of the day.

I had known I was to clear out of my room of 20 years and go into a portable for my last year of teaching. I was OK with that; there were reasons of consolidation, etc. and the portable has its charms. But move 20 years? worth of stuff in one day, let go all my end-of-year-so-I-can-get-my-final-pay-check stuff? To add injury to insult, I could not move directly into my new room b/c that teacher couldn’t get his stuff out in time (guess he was busier than me), so it all had to be crunched into another teacher’s room.

Thanks to some wonderful outside help, my stuff did get moved but I left some crumpled papers and pop-cans behind that I was going to get to when I could get back into my room (the entire building was to be closed due to asbestos removal). Someone cleaned them up first before I could and when I said that leaving some trash on the floor was the least of my problems, I was told that we shouldn’t treat the custodial staff like slaves. Now mind you, this was a couple of pop cans and a few pieces of paper left by kids that last day when I was told to be out of my room by the end of the day.

Then I found that I couldn’t get to my materials over the summer. So I went in last Monday b/c the teacher whose room I’m moving into said he’d have it cleared. He didn’t . My dept chair said that I was not to move a thing, that all his stuff would be out and mine moved in.

So that left me as of yesterday with a room piled high with furniture and boxes. Today, our first on contract day, we had an inservice. Could I stay and work in my room? No. Directly from the principal… no. (The inservice, BTW, was on brain research, something I’m very skeptical of, but it was very good).

Our state has a high-stakes test called AIMS. The super of public schools hit the headlines (again) in July b/c he had been excluding the test scores of “English Language Learners? (that’s jargon for kids whose English isn’t up to par and who therefore have a tough time on these tests). Even so, after several years of scraping by, we finally hit the wall. We usually get a “bonus? during the summer and have, naturally, come to expect it if not rely on it. So at the end of the year, we were told our kids didn’t score high enough and so we wouldn’t be getting much at all if anything. What had we done differently so as not to deserve this when other schools were getting it? I think you need to get into the mind of George Bush and the “punishment works? crowd to figure that one out.

Anyway, during the summer I get a phone call from my dept chair that the district had done some manipulation of figures and decided we should get our bones after all. And then it was about a third higher than we had been used to!

Now tell me what these two things do to morale. I know, some of you will sigh and smile and shrug and say, “Oh, we’re just teachers, you know, we can’t expect much.? Could those people be the same ones who go into the classroom and talk to the back wall for 15 minutes and then go sit down to grade papers after assigning worksheets?

Oh, BTW, for anyone who thinks that putting in long hours without pay and using our own money to pay for classroom supplies, etc. is just like business people putting in long hours under tough conditions, remember: they’re doing it for PROFIT. If they succeed, they get money. No matter what we do, we get the same money as the guy down the hall who shows up 5 min before the first bell and beats the kids out the door.

I am really glad to be leaving this.

PBarrett@cox.net Pat Barrett

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