Friday, April 10, 2015

10 Reasons You Should/Should Not Become A Teacher

I will let you determine which of these is a pro and which is a con. I'm just passing on information to those of you trying to choose a life path.

1. You get summers off.
I figured I'd start with the most obvious. This is the one everyone throws out there when you announce you are a teacher. And yes, it's unbelieveably fab. Preston and I used to sleep until ten, then lie by the pool, read an entire book, be exhausted from all the sun, take a nap, find some supper, go out for ice cream and grab a movie at Blockbuster on our way home, which we would start (START!) at 10 pm. Repeat. For 9 straight weeks. Enter kids. Kids ruin everything.

2. At least one child will drop his lunch tray. Every dadgum day. 
You would think this is unique to elementary schools, but alas, it is not. And so you technically are given a 20 minute duty free lunch, but really you are helping Lunch Tray Dropper. 

3. You get 20 minutes duty-free for lunch.
Twenty whole minutes? Score! Never mind that the rest of the world gets a "lunch hour." You will get 20 minutes! Usually you will be using that luxurious gift of 20 minutes to make a few extra copies of something because someone lost their copy and even though you want to be tough and not make them another if they don't have the paper they will not pass the test, and ulitmately your job depends on your students doing well on a test so you have to make them a copy so you can continue to have summers off and help Lunch Tray Droppers. Vicious cycle.  

4. The money.
Lots of breaks as a teacher. I think Preston gets about 13 weeks off a year. That's amazing. We get to be together as a family so much. It really is awesome. So even though the money isn't great, we will take it. Never mind that on more than one occasion Preston has called the utility company to use his large salary to get a student's power turned back on in the dead of winter, he regularly buys lunch for students who don't have one, treats his athletes to supper on the way to/from sporting events for which he is transporting them in his own truck, putting on lots of miles and sucking lots of $3 a gallon gas for which he will not be reimbursed. He also spends unreimbursed money for new equipment and supplies, sits in dunking booths to try to raise money, and does things like put on chili suppers. $200 a year classroom allowance should be enough, but sometimes he does not budget well so into our coffers he must dip. But after you spend your own money on that stuff, you will probably have enough left for a trip-of-a-lifetime to a state park, where you get a discount, so it all works out.  

5. The opportunity for advancement.
If you are willing to spend lots of your own money to get higher degrees (somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 if you are really serious and want to get both your Master's and Ed.S. (educational specialist, which is just short of a doctorate. A DOCTORATE!)) you can move up on the salary ladder, by a little bit each year, or on the career ladder by going for a principal position. Preston went this path and worked like a dog for several years and took expensive tests proving he was capable and took an assistant principal job at a local high school. Let me tell you, there is not enough money in the world to pay principals for all the sh** they have to deal with and do. Not enough. Noooooooot enough. But hey, the opportunity to deal with all the kids who do stupid stuff like steal iPods and sell weed between classes is your's for the taking if you are willing to put in the money and time. You can also be the athletic principal and get to attend every single sporting event your high school hosts if sports happens to be your bag. And then you can top out at $75,000. Don't spend it all in one place.

6. The interesting people you meet.
I once sat in an IEP meeting with a woman in a full-on sailor suit. She was not in the Navy. Just wanted to be captain for a day, I guess. This was already entertaining, but then she proceeded to tell me how I was the worst teacher, and in fact worst person, she had ever come across. She has every right to say this, and my rights are technically equal, but should I have told her what I thought of her sailor suit and her son who flat refused to try, she could have sued me. And then I would have lost this amazing lunch tray dropper job. 

7. The supportive parents.
Parents are awesome. And they all happen to be parenting the most ahhhmazing children God ever created who would not ever do anything wrong. So when you choose to sit your star ball player for having a terrible attitude and his mother comes and removes him from the bench, during the game, and announces that he will no longer be playing for your program because obviously you are incompetent if you let a little thing like respect for authority keep you from winning, you cannot be a good coach, know that she is just supporting the idea that Winning Is All That Matters. See? Support. And when a parent tapes your phone conversation without your knowledge, hoping to catch you saying something he can use against you, just know he is supporting you. I'm not really sure how. But support. 

On the flip side of this, multiple times I got wonderful gifts from parents who realized their kids were little terrors from birth, and I was an angel just for taking them off their hands for 7 hours a day, much less trying to teach them stuff. And one time (I AM GOING TO BRAG HERE) a set of parents wrote a letter to my principal, which he then shared, about my teaching partner and me saying things like "We have fostered over 30 kids and have 6 of our own, and these two women are the best teachers we have ever come across." I have saved my copy of that letter and should our house be on fire, and I have to choose between our wedding album and that letter, I will get the letter. Encouragement to a teacher is like manna from heaven.

8. The hours.
8am - 3pm? That's freakin' awesome! You have a whole day left to yourself! And it's ok that you will usually need to get to school at least an hour before the day starts because the 40 minutes your students pop off to art, or PE, or Music aren't enough to accomplish anything, much less all you would need to do to prepare to teach 7 core subjects to 35 kids for 6 hours in a way that incorporates kinesthetic learning, auditory learning, tangible learning, olfactory learning, blah blah blah blah. You must teach each child in the way that he learns best, or they will do terrible on the test where they fill in circles, and you will be fired for being incompetent since you can't get it done in 40 minutes and with all that parent support to boot. What's wrong with you? Oh, and you may need to stay late, too, for faculty meetings at least one day a week, parent-teacher conferences you will try to schedule so you can get that kid who missed ten days caught up, and sporting events and clubs you will either coach, sponsor or attend to support your students. Sometimes you will leave home in the dark and return home in the dark. Ok, most times. But 8am - 3pm is great!!

9. You get the opportunity to try other careers.
As a teacher, you will also be a nurse (I used to threaten children with detention if they threw up in my classroom), a counselor (Really, this is a HUGE part of your job what with all the unloved babies you will encounter. Take some classes. Seriously.) a janitor (When I texted Preston a couple days ago to see how his day was going, he said, "Good. Just dealing with rotten chocolate milk and nose bleeds."), and a spiritual advisor. (Warning: be careful with this one. If you talk about God/Buddha/Mohammed/A Higher Power some over-involved idiot parent will have the ACLU up there saying you violated their kids' rights.) So you will end up with lots of different skills on your resume when you get fired for your students filling in the wrong circles. 

10. The students.
For every student who makes you insane, you will have 34 whom you adore. They will worship the ground you walk on. They will write you notes telling you how much they want to be like you. They will contact you on social networks ten years after you taught them to thank you for not giving up on them and demanding excellence and to tell you how they got a scholarship to college. 

This career path isn't for everyone. But it is for us. And although I don't do it anymore, I try to support the people who are taking on my own Lunch Tray Droppers. And I hope you will, too, even as we reach the time of the year when it is all TOO MUCH. Write them a letter. Write their boss a letter. Take them a Starbucks. Go cut out some shapes for them. Find thirty minutes in your day to love on them, because I promise they will remember it forever.

And summer is coming and you will have your Lunch Tray Droppers all to yourself, and you will be wishing that teacher would show up at your door with some homework for them.

Grace for All the Teachers Everywhere,


  1. I worked at a school for 5 years (in a non-teaching role) and the FIRST thing I was told was "this is a good place to work. It would be a GREAT place to work if it was an orphanage." True story.

    1. Welcome to education! I'm so glad God brought you into my life. You are my people!

  2. Preston is da man. They are blessed to have him.

    1. As are your school and students, George. You are awesome.

  3. This made me smile and laugh and nod my head, and then item #10 made me cry. Thank you for writing this! Teaching is hard. Really hard. But it always manages to reveal itself as a career that is totally worth it when you think you can't handle another day. I loved this. :)

    1. It is so, so hard, Stephanie, but I'm so glad there are people like you out there who are young, know the challenges and are still coming to the profession. It is definitely a calling, not just a job.


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