If I Were A Teacher I'd Be...
I've always wanted to be a public school teacher. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond my control I have never been one, but the dream lives on. Recently however, I was hired by a local school district as a Para Professional. I was assigned to an elementary school classroom. My two months working there opened my eyes to some of the pressures a teacher has to go through in the performance of their duties. I found out if I were a teacher I'd be...
Harried and Haggard
Most of the teachers I observed had a larger then normal classroom size. Extra students meant extra work for the teachers. Add in the students who because of IEP's required more one on one attention and you have one frazzled teacher by the end of each day. Since I worked the last two months of the school year the teachers were really at the end of their proverbial ropes.
Burdened by Testing
Another aspect of the being a teacher I learned about was state testing. Each year the state requires the schools to give their students state assessment tests. The results of the tests are used by the state to assess where the schools are at academically. While the tests are necessary, they cause a lot of stress for the teachers who must alter their teaching methods in order to prepare students for the tests. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the teachers are still required to teach their normal lessons.
Stressed Out Over Paperwork
I have a lot of friends who are teachers. The one things they always complain about is paperwork. I didn't really understand what they meant until I worked in an actual classroom. Not only do teachers have to grade the homework, make lesson plans they also have other paperwork they must do such as IEP's (Individual Education Plans). One thing I've discovered is the more a paperwork a teacher does the more it takes away from time which would normally be allotted for teaching.
Fearful of Furloughs
Another aspect of teaching are the budget cuts and furloughs. Most school districts today have budget gaps they need to breach. The result is more and more layoffs of school personnel, including teachers. So there are some districts where teachers not only have to work under the everyday pressures of the classroom but also have the fear they will not be there at the end of the year.
In the end all I can say is before you complain about a teacher do what I did and take some time to find out how a teacher's day is going first.