It’s teacher appreciation week and so far I have received a number of sweet wishes and two extraordinary cupcakes. This week, which I don’t remember celebrating when I was in school, is always something that makes me reflect back on the teachers who formed me and the student I was in high school. Now having the teacher’s perspective has certainly changed the way I view those people who worked tirelessly to teach me subjects I often thought of as silly and boring. So that got me thinking, what do I wish I knew back in high school about my teachers?
What I Wish I Knew about My High School Teachers:
They are human with feelings and emotions of their own. I can distinctly remember making a teacher cry from the way we behaved in class and being confused with the tears that were coming down her face. Wasn’t she supposed to be above letting the behavior and opinions of 14 year old children get to her? Teachers are just like students. We have highs and we have lows. We have good days and we have bad days.
They do not create assignments just to torture students. I can remember getting an assignment and thinking the teacher was just looking for a way to punish us. Now, I hand my students something that I think will help them and they give me the same annoyed reaction, bemoaning the learning experience and the assignment.
They really don’t remember individual grades and like or dislike students accordingly. In college I ran into my middle school Latin teacher and was embarrassed to talk with her, sure she remembered the deplorable grades I got in her class. When I mentioned that, she said she doesn’t have any recollection of the grades, which I didn’t believe for a second. But now, as I grade test after test I can honestly say I have no recollection of a students grade, nor does it play any role in how I view that student as a person.
They work really, really, REALLY hard. Teaching is not a cushy job of little work and lots of time off. Yes, we technically get the summers off, but that doesn’t mean we spend those 3 months vacations with a beer in one hand. A lot of teachers spend that time working on new lessons and new classes. And in the school year… we’re talking hours and hours of grading, lesson planning, and even just thinking about the classes and the students. This is not a job you leave at home when you walk out the doors. This is not a job that gives you completely work-free weekends. A lot of teachers clock in early in the morning and stay at least an hour after the students. They lug home mounds of paper work.
They love Fridays and three-day weekends as much as students do. When that Friday afternoon bell clangs teachers are just as thrilled to high tail it out of there as their students. And those gloriously long weekend, in which they can catch up on the things they have been putting off, do their laundry, clean their houses, pay their bills, yeah, those are great too.
They have lives outside of school. I can still remember exactly where I was when I found out one of my teachers went to a concert the weekend before. I was flabergasted at the idea. Why would she be at a concert? Does she even know modern music? Perhaps, in this day and age where students follow along on Instagram or see their teachers on Snapchat or Facebook things are a little different, but students still seem surprised when a teacher is ‘normal’ and appreciates the same kind of things the student does.
They see so much more than they say. I can remember thinking I was so sly writing out a message to my friend on our TI-85 calculator and then passing it to her so she could read it and respond. I was sure the teacher had not idea; just as I was sure the history teacher had no idea I read a fiction book in her class most days. No. The teachers know, very often they just opt not to say anything. My personal thought on that is if a student is going to waste her time in class it’s her funeral and time she’ll need to make up in studying to get the information she missed. The same today goes for cellphones in the classroom. We see it all, we just don’t usually bother to say a thing.
They care a lot about the students. Maybe it’s the school I went to and the school I teach at, but I think overall my teachers will say they care a LOT for the students that grace their classrooms. We care about the learning that goes on. We care about the students and their full flourishing. We care about more than the grades on a test or the mastery of a lesson. We care about them as people and want to see they happy and fulfilled while in school and beyond.
Students can be mean and cruel to them. I suppose this goes back up to the first one. But high school students have the unique ability to be amazingly mean and rude to their teachers, their parents too for that matter. They just have a way of saying something or doing something that can hurt the well-intended teacher. The rolling of the eyes, the huffs, the side comments. All of that add up to being really hurtful at times.
Did you see last week’s post about how teaching is so much more than the lesson plans and grading? Check out why I think we are also ring leaders, cheerleaders and jugglers; because after all teaching is one big balancing act.