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Teachers as Martyrs

Recently, an article has made the rounds from a fellow teacher named Beth Wallis. In the article, she asks that legislators, and the general public, “Stop equating teachers with martyrs.” I couldn’t agree more with her words, and I am glad that educators are finally taking action and not accepting what is put on our plates. It’s tiring when you constantly have more than you can handle, but have to continue on whether or not you have completed the tasks.

Jennifer Gonzales from Cult of Pedagogy compiled a list of things that teachers wanted administrators to know. It’s a great list that I think every person who even votes for a school board should read. However, I’m going to quote the first item on the list because I feel that it is most pertinent to the conversation going on nationally about the value of our teachers. It deals with the issue of a teacher’s time, and what we are expected to do within that time.

“If your school is like most, it’s already set up to give teachers very little time without students present—maybe an hour a day at most, and in some cases, much less. In that time, teachers are expected to plan engaging lessons, assess student work, provide meaningful feedback, contact parents, make photocopies, collaborate with their colleagues, design instructional materials, meet with students to provide extra help, troubleshoot technology programs, display student work, maintain a relatively interesting and tidy classroom, enter grades into a centralized grading system, and complete various kinds of paperwork.
That’s the baseline, the normal expectations. And it’s clearly more than any human can handle in the time allotted, which you know, since you were a teacher and you’ve been there. You know that they are already taking work home and putting in evening and weekend hours just to meet the standard expectations.”

No other job on the planet expects you to do all those things in one hour, or finish them at home or stay after work. Every teacher I know, fills the parking lots in the morning hours prior and late evenings after work. Every teacher I know walks out of the building with a luggage bag full of things to do at home. It’s not sustainable. My question is, are we willing to go through with what needs to be done to make a change? Because honestly, it’s not just a question of money. You can throw money at a problem and just make it worse. It’s also about time and value. No matter how much you pay me, you cannot expect me to complete all that work in one hour. This also has to change. We are martyrs not because society expects us to be, but because we have let ourselves become so by not saying the word we are so good at saying to our children: no.

Links:
Cult of Pedagogy: Letter to Administrators (Full)
Beth Wallis: Stop Equating Teachers with Martyrs

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