The high demands of being a highly-effective teacher are only getting higher, right along with the stakes of being an educator.
I think of myself as an incredibly passionate person, with the very best interest of my students in mind and heart. I spend time outside of school thinking about my kids and how they can benefit from my experiences and what all I can offer them as their teacher. I long to give them the chances to think creatively and inspire them to be greater than they think they ever could be. With this dedication and drive comes time, and lots of it. I know I bring some of that onto myself, and I willingly admit that I don’t HAVE to reply to 40 reading journals a week, but I do it because I know how incredibly valuable that is. I know I don’t HAVE to scour for interesting articles about topics my kids like, but I do it because I know it will engage them in the lesson. I know I don’t HAVE to spend hours trying to come up with innovative, hands-on lessons for our project time, but I do it because I know that’s how my kids will learn best.
With the additional time it takes to do this myriad of extras, I wonder how long a person can go on being a truly great teacher.
The highest demand of a highly-effective teacher is time. There’s never enough time to make all the copies, print all the report cards, schedule all the conferences, reply to all the emails, attend all the meetings, write all the lessons, test all the kids, all on top of actually TEACHING.
I told someone last week that I didn’t spend four years of my academic life at UNC to get an education degree so I can sit in a plastic blue chair in the hallway for a cumulative nine weeks testing children on an iPad.
I’m here to teach. To motivate. To challenge.
If you know me, you know I’m a list-maker. I love lists. I love color-coding. I love color-coding lists. I’m an organized, efficient human being. Every day though, regardless of how much I cross off my list, more always seems to be added to it by the hour. Meetings pop up or emergency copies need to be made. I like to think I’m fairly good with prioritizing what needs to be done, but the problem is that with teaching, no list is ever complete.
How long can a teacher go on in a profession that gives so little time to process and reflect and, if I may be blunt, PEE? My lunch block shouldn’t count as a planning block, and I shouldn’t have to sit through meetings that have nothing to do with what goes on in my classroom.
The stakes are high for keeping good teachers. If teachers are continually treated this way, how can anyone expect them to stay in the profession? How is it possible to choose what “gives” when it comes to being a teacher? Isn’t everything we do important for the learning of our kids?
I spend so much time making sure that I’m prepared and that my kids will have a positive learning experience in my classroom each day. I do this because they deserve that from me. I work this hard because those kids deserve my best, and in turn, I expect their best. I spend so much time because that time pays off and makes this job so much more rewarding than I ever could have imagined (honestly, there are few more fulfilling moments than hugging a child and hearing him saying, “I miss you” in the most sincere way after you went to his little league baseball game on a Saturday morning).
The time is worth it for the kids, but it’s so important to remember that you can’t neglect yourself along the way. Balance is a battle, and we’re all fighting the good fight. I hope the high demands to be a highly-effective teacher continue to be high so that we, as professionals, can strive to collaborate and push ourselves to be better; however, I also hope that these demands don’t drive more to the higher stakes of leaving the teaching profession as a whole.