Humanizing Teachers

It’s almost time for school to start here, in the lower parts of NC. Around this time of year, I generally read and hear about buying clothes for the upcoming school year and supplies the kids will need for classes.

On the Alt12 App BabyBump a mother asked Ina post, if other American families were paying school fees this year. At her children’s school, on top of supplies and clothes her children need, they pay $150 fee to go to public school. I had never heard of this so, I was intrigued. So I read on.

My curiosity turned to shock and then anger when the subject changed mid replies. The one that, “got my goat,” was this one:
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(The whited out portion is a repeated word due to the size of the reply and my phone screen captioning capabilities)

I was sufficiently outraged. Much of what she says is just plain incorrect, or ridiculous to ask some one to do. Nurses pay for uniforms so teachers should pay for ever student’s supplies for the year, when we also have to buy clothing to work in as well? It’s the same? Really? We should have realized how little we would make in the teaching profession and made another career choice?!

I mean really? There were more replies either defending teachers, or completely dehumanizing and lumping teachers together like computers or programmed robots:

IMG_0853.JPG(photo credit http://www.bigthink.com)

I was so outraged I composed a very lengthy post of my own. If you are on this app or a member of one of these forums you would know, you just don’t do that. Writing a post about a post (or comment) is taboo. I just couldn’t keep quiet. The way they made us sound, greedy, money hungry, idiotic, useless garbage… It struck me in my heart because I have felt that way before, teaching.

I want to share with you what I shared with them. I wrote:

“I grew up very poor and my parents made less than 35K a year, together for most of my life. We were so poor they used to chain up our fridge because us 3 kids were so hungry we’d eat all of the sticks of butter and leftover bread ends, because that’s all that was in the fridge. I wore shorts in December one year because we couldn’t afford pants for me and my older brother needed his. I wore an old sweatshirt as a coat until 4th grade. We were the Angel Tree recipients you guys talk about at Christmas. Without that, we would have not had Christmas a couple of times. I will always be grateful for those people that gave to us.

My parents told me never to dream of college, to set my sights on retail if I was very lucky. I worked retail for 6 years to get through school, but I wanted more. I wanted food in my kid’s fridge.

I got scholarships, I went to school, I paid my way with a some help from my grandmother. At 19, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called PIC. In 2005 it wasn’t really a top eye disease and not much was known about it. I just knew I was losing my vision like cookie cutters cutting out dough. But my brain is highly adaptive (apparently) and they were able to test unapproved treatments on me. We stemmed off any further damage with those painful injections in and behind the eye.

Then, almost done with school I start getting sick. Nothing horrific but I gained 70 pounds, and my hormones were out of balance. Doctors discovered an unrelated (to my eye disease) brain tumor. As I’ve written about, it has a host of unpleasant side effects including infertility.

At this point I was 24/25 when My tumor was discovered.

I got heathy, well as much as I could, and continued onto teaching. I was so relieved, I was finally a teacher! It was so important to me to achieve this goal because something had formed in my mind after all those student teaching experiences. Something important I had to do.

You see, when I was little I went to a school where they truly didn’t notice the students much. No one thought it was odd I was really and bruised by my mother’s fists. They didn’t want to know and nobody asked. No one noticed the signs of sexual abuse, and I gave those off like fireworks.

I vowed I would be different. I started my teaching journey in school thinking idealistic things about teachers; but by the end of student teaching I knew. I would notice them. I would see those bruises too close together to be anything but a row of fingers. I would notice the signs. I would care.

I make more money than my parents did 20 years ago but I make 20K less than the national average for teachers. I pay a lot of medical bills. I just pay a lot of bills, honestly.

And as a teacher, I buy school supplies every year for other people’s kids because some cannot afford it and some say to my face that I can. I am told that my department is unimportant everyday in some fashion, yet 3 students have unburdened themselves (finally) to me about sexual assaults and rape. I am so glad I noticed. I am so glad that I was there, that I didn’t lie to myself about being there for those like me. To care about them. (I am not bragging. I’d like to think this shows why teachers are needed.)

I am useless. Apparently. I should pay for supplies because I can afford it? I should have checked with the country’s pay for teachers and taken another career path, because who would want to do that on purpose? I should realize I signed up for poverty and enjoy it? Enjoy that my contract says I am entitled to step ups in pay almost every year so I can afford to have a family; but never receive those increases in pay? Yet others work other jobs and are allowed raises within the government section even, yet I should be okay with not getting one (some teachers have worked 7 years without an adjustment when they were supposed to have them)? I am only taking care of our future leaders, CEOs, Doctors, Freedom Fighters.

Do you see? I am a human being too!

You demean everything I have worked for, why? There are 1,000s more with even more difficult stories; teachers who have impacted more lives (I’ve been teaching only 3 years, forgive me) and you talk about teachers like dirt in your shoes.

I don’t understand why we must all be painted with this brush of hate.”

I go on to say I was sorry if I mixed metaphors and probably made all kinds of errors but I was too darn mad and tired to care. I left them with this:

“We are people. We have feelings and struggles. We do good things, can’t you see that most teachers do?”

I also hope you, dear readers see it too, that teachers aren’t the evils that broke the educational system. We are trying very hard to give our children a better future than our past.

I oddly enough received overwhelming supportive comments on my post. I was expecting a fight, I truly was. If anyone ever talks trash about teachers or, if you get frustrated about one, please remember, they are human too. Heck remember my story if you want. Just remember, we are people too.

As always, thanks for reading!

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6 Comments

  1. His Wife, Our Life

    If you haven’t seen this slam poem by Taylor Mali, I think you will enjoy it. When I was majoring in elementary education my extended family was not the least bit supportive, claiming that as a teacher the pay isn’t worth the job, never realizing that teachers don’t become teachers for the money, but for the opportunity to impact the lives of others and to help children in ways no one else can.

    Enjoy.

    Like

    1. afternoonofsundries

      I couldn’t open the link so I looked him up. That was awesome. The next time someone asks I may have to say that. It is a shame your family could not see how important teaching is to you and make you defend your choice. Families can be odd like that. You know though, how important you are and the impact you are making and I am glad you understand 🙂

      Like

  2. anne54

    I applaud you for your outrage. I taught for many years and while I deplore the creeping expectation that parents funds many areas of education, I know that it is the government that needs to fund education. Then we can reach the high standards that so many teachers are aiming for. Good luck with your teaching career. We need more like you!

    Like

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