Sunday, April 3, 2011

What follows is a letter written by an Eight Grade teacher to Kidd Kraddick, the DJ of an early morning radio show. These words aren't mine but they could have been...

Let me note that the office staff at my school works just as hard and gives just as much, (if not more) than anyone else that works at and cares about our school and the kids we serve.  The rest of us wouldn't last an hour doing what they do!

Here is a link to the website that originally posted the letter.

As the school year winds down and teachers across the country are anxiously concerned that their jobs will be eliminated, I got this PERFECT letter from an eighth grade teacher in Oregon:
Hi Kidd,

I'm an eighth grade English teacher in a small Oregon town. I have been teaching since 1998. When people hear what I do for a living, and with whom I do it, they usually get semi-horrified looks on their faces.
But the truth is, I love eighth graders. I look forward to seeing them and I miss them after they move on to ninth grade.

Teaching is who I am. It's my passion and I know that sounds dumb-- I should have some hobby that doesn't involve my job and I shouldn't identify so closely with my "job", but the truth is, it's not just a job to me. Teaching is the most important thing in my life, aside from my family. And when people make comments like, "Oh, teachers are just glorified babysitters with cushy jobs and summers off," that makes me really mad. But people say dumb things like that about us all the time.

My day doesn't end at 3:30 when my contract says it does. I might leave the building, but school doesn't leave me. I think about the kid who cussed me out today in the Activity Center, because I caught him skipping. I think about the boy who eats lunch in my room every single day, along with about 30 kids, because they don't feel safe to be out amongst the other kids. I think about the kids who have zero home life and how those same kids come to school every single day because it's a heck of a lot easier than staying home and watching dad be drunk again.

You know what, Kidd? I need the summers off so that I can become a person again. Because from the minute I step foot in my classroom in the morning, I’m paying attention to my students…individually, as a whole class, and in groups of two and three. Because they need my attention. They need me to love them, and notice them, and accept them for who they are. They need me to notice when they're absent or sad or have something going on at home. They need me to give them a push when they want to give up and give them a break when they try and fail.

I could go on but I have to hurry back to class-- did I mention that I only have about 2 minutes to pee-- because my next class is on its way. I need the summers off because facing this every day makes me hate going into the office.

When we're talking about budget cuts, Kidd, it’s always “cut the teachers”. But we don't talk about the office staff-- who do things, granted, but have an awful lot of free time each and every day-- or the district office staff with a superintendent whose salary tops $110, 000, but who sets foot into our building maybe twice a year if we’re lucky. No, we automatically go straight for the teachers…teachers like me who spent $1000 of their own money last year on professional development classes, and tons and tons of young adult books for my classroom library, personalized pencils that hopefully won't get stolen (yet do) and Kleenex, birthday cakes, hand sanitizer, soda, candy and all the other things we buy to make our classrooms special.

My classroom has a couch, recliner, rocking chair, and two beanbags, pillows, rugs, etc. so the kids can make cozy places to sit and read. I have clipboards so they can write somewhere besides a table, but also I have tables for those kids who prefer to write at them. And I scour books, the internet, magazines, comic books, songs to find stuff that eighth graders can relate to, or react to and be passionate about. I push them every year to start developing opinions of their own. And I try to teach them to be passionate about their writing-- it doesn't matter what they write about, so long as they're passionate about it. I'm far from perfect, but I try so hard. For people to say that what I do is glorified babysitting, it negates everything I try so hard to accomplish.

We teachers have chosen a difficult path. What we do is NOT an easy job and I can feel my morale getting worse as each year goes on. I really wish there was a day set aside where every parent could come spend a whole day with us and see if it changes how they feel about what we do.

Anyway, you asked for information about teaching. I am a loyal listener every day, and I will be very happy to think that you might actually read what I've written. Have a good day, and keep up the good work.

I have heard many negative comments in the news lately concerning teachers, teacher salaries and benefits and perceived teacher motives. It never fails to rub me the wrong way. Teachers work long and hard during the 190 days we are paid for. We have NO paid holidays, NO paid vacations and work many more UNPAID hours than most people realize.

We don't get three months off in the summer. It averages about eight or nine weeks. And guess what? We don't get paid for those eight or nine weeks.

Most of us shrug and get on with the business of teaching. This is the way it has always been.

None of us are there for the money and most certainly, no one is there for the glory. We love what we do and we love your children. We really do.

Most of us....Heck, I would bet my next paycheck (just don't get excited, it is way less than it was just three years ago) that 90% of educators in the trenches are there because we heard a calling.

Most of us are there because we answered that calling.

Most of us stay because we still hear that calling.

Just sayin'............................

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