I seriously debated on whether I should write/post this. I guess, the need to get it out there outweighed being silent. In the end, our teaching responsibilities are a lot more involved than some parents think.
The general public (and more specifically parents) is typically unaware of the true responsibilities of a teacher. It is amazing to me the thoughts and comments I hear, even from family members. Unless you are close to a teacher (or are one), you are likely to not truly understand our teaching responsibilities. So what are the top ten things I wish every parent knew about teachers and their responsibilities? I know to some this may be “preaching to the choir,” but I just had to put this out there.
10. Summer slide is indeed real. I wish more parents understood that the lack of reading and being in school easily causes students to forget important concepts. What is the old saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” I have seen scores in the fall be significantly lower than the scores from the spring on the same test.
9. We are more than just a “glorified sitter.” I can’t even count how many times I have heard this one. We all have seen the joke about what we would truly make if we got paid daycare rates per child.
8. I get paid less than most professionals. In fact, I know of a few McDonald’s managers that make more than I do. It depends on your school district, experience, and a few other factors, but it can sometimes be depressing when you consider the amount of hours we put in and how other countries value their teachers like doctors. Good thing I love my job enough to do it for *almost* free. That brings me to my next point.
7. I work well over 40 hours a week- it’s not a 9 to 5 kind of job. If I spend 8 to 4 teaching your children (because I’m surely not just sitting at my desk all day), that means I spend my free time in the evenings and weekends doing everything else. Everything else consists of multiple things. I write lesson plans (that must meet the needs of the district and each individual child, while being entertaining. Thank you technology!). I grade papers and enter grades. I complete paperwork. I communicate with parents. I collaborate with staff. I create materials needed (examples, task cards, so on). I attend school related events. I could go on and on — the list of every single one of my teaching responsibilities is extensive.
6. With that said, we do not get our summers off, contrary to popular belief. During the summer, sure, I hit the beach, but I’m also preparing for the next school year. I’m reflecting on what I did well and what I need to improve to help those students excel. I’m taking professional development so I can become a better teacher (and it’s mandated by some states). Some teachers even take on second jobs such as teaching summer school or working elsewhere because of number 8 above.
5. I wear many hats. I am a teacher, but I am also a referee, a nurse, a counselor, a cheerleader, a tutor, an entertainer, a parent, a detective, a friend, a secretary, a protector, and many more.
4. I don’t have time to teach your child manners. Long ago, teachers worked hard with students to teach them social skills and proper etiquette. Unfortunately, those days are gone. With all the state requirements and expectations, I barely have time to teach all that I need to teach. When you throw in time consuming testing, I’m left with little time. I spent this most recent year teaching manners and respect way more than I did standards. Please, please teach this stuff at home – I say this with respect. It would make my teaching responsibilities easier.
3. Piggy-backing off what I just said in four, we teachers have a lot of pressure on us. Unfortunately decisions for what we teach, how we teach it, and so on is typically made by people who aren’t in education. Not only do we need to know our material well, but we also need to make sure that we can break it down in ways that students completely understand it. We need to fill any gaps they have. We need to present it to them in ways they can learn it- all while keeping them focused. We have to deal with disgruntled parents, disrespectful children, home environments – all while making sure our students are passing – and scoring high.
2. Come to me first. I’m human and I make mistakes. If I have done something to upset a parent, I want him or her to come to me first. I’m very open and flexible. We should be a team and work together to better benefit your child. It seems more and more parents are taking the side of their child before even talking to the teacher. I have seen parents immediately call the principal for something that could have easily been taken care of in the classroom with me first.
and the number one thing I wish all parents knew about teachers…
1. Please take responsibility. I have heard more and more parents over the years state or imply that “it’s my problem” if their child doesn’t do their homework, doesn’t learn, or doesn’t behave. I think that is farther from the truth. Sure, I am a role model and I do help that child be successful, but the reality is parents spend more time with their child and are more influential than I will be in just 40 weeks. Step up to the plate. Put your phone, electronics, or whatever away for just a few minutes to read to your child before bed, to play catch in the yard, to teach those manners, to help study for an upcoming test. That’s what kids need. They need you – the parent. My teaching responsibilities are vast, but try as I might, I cannot replace a parent’s role in their life.
I know not all parents are like this. I know some are very much involved – and I thank you! Unfortunately, I’m seeing a decline in the classroom. I see kids who are hungry for attention, with very little manners, and poor work ethics. We can change this – but we need parents to get on board! The first step to synergizing with parents is helping them understand our teaching responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE to teach! Next week, my top ten will be reasons I love teaching, so stop by!