Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm Back

It has been way too long since I posted here. I could think of numerous excuses, but I won’t. I got a little lazy and then a little perfectionistic. I have found that if I put off writing something until I am certain it is going to be outstanding, I often do not have to write anything at all. I mean, why bother if it isn’t going to be great?

Oddly enough this is an excuse I have heard not just from myself, but from countless students over the last twenty years. I have rarely let them get away with this excuse. After all, writing is supposed be an exploration of the mind and an alternate definition for essay is to try. So I will essay to write something in here today, and I will not worry over it’s certain lack of perfection.

School started for me on 2 August. For the students at my school it started on 9 August. Five days of preplanning and, at least on paper, almost all of it taken up with meetings and workshops. While I do see a great deal of value in attending a good workshop, and we had several, I also see a positive value in free time being given for teachers to work on getting their classrooms ready and being able to sit down and do some preplanning for their teaching. Doesn’t seem like working that into the official schedule should be too tough, but it often is.

At my wife’s school (she is also a teacher), their preplanning week was similarly organized. The new, new principal did let all the teachers know that the school would be open until 9:00 every night and open certain hours on the weekend. Basically he expected that the teachers would volunteer their own time with their families to come and do the necessary work that his own schedule for preplanning did not permit them. Is it me, or does that seem wrong?

I have often confronted that attitude, though. The attitude that teachers should be willing--no, eager--to give up their own free time in order to spend more time at their job. And God forbid we ever complain about it. Then we are met with the “accusation” that we are only teaching for the money. Yeah, that’s right, I got into teaching in order to make my fortune. Somehow I feel I was misinformed.

Whenever I hear this, that teachers only work for the money, I always want to ask the person saying that why they go to work. After all, in our increasingly materialistic society, how much one is paid is a sign as to how important our society views that particular job. I find it distressing that such necessary jobs as police, firefighters, and teachers are not paid commensurate to the importance of our jobs. Somehow we are all expected to be grateful to have the opportunity to do this work and not complain about how more money would be nice.

I love teaching. I love being a teacher. I do not love that there always seems to be quite a bit of month left at the end of my money.

On the other hand, I knew going into this profession I would be on the low end of the professional pay scale. I have two degrees, several awards, and twenty years of experience. I make less that what corporate lawyers make their first year out of school. And yet I am expected to work as hard and give of my extra time as much as they do, if not more.

So why do I continue to do it? It is not entirely for the students. It is not entirely for the money. It is not entirely for the feeling of social usefulness I get doing this job. It is not entirely because I get to exercise my creativity on an almost daily basis. It is a combination of all these factors. The proportions differ from day to day, sometimes from class to class, but these are all component reasons to why I still do this.

And as long as I feel I can make a positive difference, make enough to live somewhat comfortably, feel useful, and creative--in whatever proportions come my way--I will continue to do this job. Even if I don’t always enter the door each morning with a bounce and a smile. I’m here and I am going to do my best. That’s about as good as it is going to get for me. And I just have to hope that that is good enough.

No comments: