Saturday, March 19, 2011

And THIS is Teaching....

*Warning: This post and the video to follow contains some swearing. Ask children to leave the room.*

True confessions time. I was a *very* poor student in grade school and most of high school.

Nowadays I would probably have been diagnosed as ADD or perhaps even ADHD but they didn't have those diagnoses when I was growing up so I just had to do the best I could.

And my "best" usually included having to go to Summer school in order to not be left behind a grade or have to go through remedial math.

And then, one day, everything just locked into place. I was on the Dean's List all four years in college, I was a member of Phi Alpha Theta the *honors* history society, I graduated cum laude with honors.

But for me to EVER even reach that point I had teachers who not only fought FOR me they fought WITH me. They were behind me on the uphill climb, shoving my butt up the mountain of education. If my teachers had not given such a damn I am convinced that I would not be where I am today.

Lately in the media I've seen a LOT of people attacking teachers. Saying they're overpaid and over compensated and implying that they are unimportant. And that makes me mad. It makes me mad because I'm where I am with a good career and the respect of my work colleagues because of my teachers and my parents. And I know a LOT of other people who are the same. They had teachers who supported them, pushed them, and believed in them -- even when they didn't believe in themselves. And yes, I was that way too. I had people tell me I was smart but I didn't necessarily believe them. It took my teachers and my parents' confidence that I *could* do this to eventually convince me that I could.

I've had and continue to have friends who are teachers and I've heard the war stories from the trenches. I've seen the days when they were exhausted and frustrated and upset because you know what? It's really, really hard shoving a student's butt up education mountain. And sometimes there are slips and ground is lost and as much as the student gets frustrated the teacher does too.

But no one goes into teaching to "get rich" and anyone who tries to tell you that is lying through their teeth. It takes a tough breed to be a teacher and it can be a thankless, thankless task.

Several years back, after I first entered my career, I ran into my old, 5th grade teacher. He asked what I was doing and I told him the whole litany -- a college degree (with honors), a Master's degree, and now the start of a great professional career. He turned to the person next to him -- who happened to be a young teacher with only a few years under his belt, and he said: "You see? Sometimes you get a chance to see that you did all right by them." Teachers don't measure their success in paychecks. Teachers measure their success in the happiness and fulfilment of the dreams of their students.

So fair warning. Don't ever stand in front of me and tell me that teachers aren't "worth it". Are there a few bad apples in the barrel? Oh, definitely, but show me ANY job where there aren't. But a few bad apples doesn't not give people the right to throw out the whole barrel or to say that all the apples in the barrel are rotten without even bothering to look. There are a lot of people out there who are making the big bucks their teachers never will and they're making that money because of those teachers.

And now you need to watch the video of this teacher/slam poet... because he sums it all up:

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