Many of our students come to school because it is a safe haven from "surviving" out in the current world. The world where they have limited food, love, time and safety. School is a safe place because it is predictable and the the adults are caring and loving towards them, even when they act out. Food is available to them as is basic medical care and much more. Teachers I know have provided clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, school supplies and holiday gifts to their students all in an effort to better the children's lives.
And... let's be honest, if the job for teachers was just to "TEACH", well that would be easy. You would plan a lesson, execute it and move on. Simple. But the job of a teacher is so much more complex no matter what age level you teach. Teachers are also counselors, therapists, nurturers, advocates, nurses, parents and so much more. In any given day we take on many roles for our students to meet their needs. As our "current world" becomes so much more complicated, so do our jobs. Our students come to us needing so much more, even if they come from "good" homes. Time is limited and resources are at times scarce. Teachers fill the gaps as best as they can in between teaching lessons.
If my job was to simply teach, I would be able to disconnect at the end of the day. Instead I go home and worry about my little ones who need more. I also go home and talk about my littles ones, like a proud momma. They are close to my heart for the entire time they are in my charge. If I could simply teach, it would be much easier. My job is so much more and I do believe that I am not alone in the way I feel about teaching. I work with an amazing staff in the district and in my school. Every one of them goes above and beyond for their students. I have never heard a teacher complain about their salary. In fact, I have never heard a teacher say that they are in it for the money. Mostly what I hear is the frustration that we are being expected to do so much with so little time and resources. Teachers naturally want to do more, but we want to be understood too.
"Joe"'s comment was very typical of those who truly do not understand what is happening in schools. Unfortunately those voices are often louder than teachers' voices. In today's education climate, teachers are afraid to speak out and to defend themselves. Maybe it is because we are nice people or are more comfortable speaking to children than adults. I don't know.
I do know this, however, I will continue to speak out. I will continue to be a voice. I will continue to believe that schools are amazing places and that teachers do amazing things. I will continue to be all I can for my little ones. And "Joe"... well, maybe he needs to teach for a week or two. Or maybe he just needs a hug.