Friday, August 22, 2008

Why Back to School is so hard on Teachers

Back to school is the worst time of the year for teachers. Those poor souls who live with us have to hear the "I'm SO tired" and "There's not enough time" and "Can't you just get dinner tonight?" refrains until their ears start to bleed. So why don't we all just suck it up, accept that we chose this profession and do our jobs??

There is a reason, of course. There are many reasons actually.

Some of us didn't choose THIS profession in it's current form. We chose it in a kinder, gentler time before No Child Left Behind and the rise of mindless research based best teaching practices. We remember the "good old days" before guided reading and documentation and no administrative support and centers and ADD....

Most of us don't know what our job will entail this year. See, every year school districts add several new steps to certain processes in an effort to improve performance. They are poorly defined and not well thought out knee jerk reactions to the previous year's performance by district. This looks a lot like all those little pop up ads that most web browsers block out, but we can't block them. We must respond to and execute each one before we can get back to the job of teaching kids.

Back to school time is unltimately a fluid dance of teaching preparations, inservice, district hobnobbing, parental encounters, new teacher helping, team building with new teammates, administrative decisions, and decorating. These things all flow together in an unpredictable wave like motion that toss us to and fro and sometimes slams us into the rocks from 7 am to 10 pm for the week before school starts. Some of us like to start earlier with the hope that it'll make the transition easier. We hope in vain, every year.. I think teachers must be the most optimistic people on the planet (present company excluded).

It's a change in routine. We've just spent 9 weeks trying to regain some sense of normalcy with family vacation, changed home routines cuz we're actually THERE, summer projects around the house, and some well deserved sleeping in. Then, it's back to the grindstone just when we have the new routine down. It is kind of cruel now that I think about it. HMmmm.

And finally, we all know that the morning of the first day we will have to start training a new crop of kids who seem a lot less mature than last year's crew. We know we'll have to add students and undo much of the work we spent the last week doing. Some of us even have to face that our teaching assignment will change after the first few days due to an unexpected enrollment number. This means moving rooms, grade levels, team mates, and sometimes even our campus. All at the whim of the district. Because we signed a contract that includes the phrase "all other duties as assigned". Without know how much we'll be making.

That's why we whine. That's why we moan. And that's why you should tell your child's teacher that you really appreciate all they do for your child.


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