One of the most challenging professions that exist today is teaching. Teachers need strength, endurance, patience, knowledge, discipline, empathy, compassion, high skill sets, and tolerance. Our world is changing drastically. The demands present when many of us learned in school is nothing like it is today. Technology changes every day, and many kids no longer comprehend what it is to learn manually. Some students can’t do basic arithmetic without the aids of calculators or other technological gadgets. Teachers can’t be blamed for this because there’s only a certain amount of time that teachers get with students. If you think teachers are well-compensated for their time, I can send you to about thirty educators that I know directly off the top of my head, that will dispute that claim and have the proof to back it up. Teachers don’t have the luxury of punching in and out, then leaving their problems behind. They have tests and projects to grade, curriculums to put together, lessons to be taught, and goals set for the school year. Most of the time, they do not get the support from the administrative side they need, and the administrative side is fighting with superintendents to meet budgetary demands. Sometimes it feels as if it’s a roller coaster of emotions for all parties involved.
The past year changed everything for instructors, teachers, and other educational professionals. Can you imagine picking up your classroom, creating a virtual classroom, and working with students who don’t have access to internet programs, and yet the school system shut down and created extremely challenging situations? Teachers could tell you about the hours of labor they put in, getting their students ready, depending on families to help get their child/children through their studies. They relied on families to help their children cover the necessary lessons. This past year created chaos in the world of education for all age groups, and especially teachers. Many of the educators retired because they didn’t want to keep up with the challenging demands. The sad thing is that society is already struggling to keep our teachers and finds it challenging to recruit new instructors.
Better pay is only a tiny start to helping teachers. Teachers need the support of their communities, their administration, parents, and students. Yes, some teachers need to find another profession, but in their way, they are teaching the next generation what not to do in the job. Supplies are consistently challenging to get for many teachers. It’s gotten so bad over the years that teachers are getting supplies for the students and themselves. Those in higher positions like Superintendents, CEOs, and other executives deserve higher salaries. However, teachers are the reason that those in higher positions exist. Shouldn’t they get a more significant piece of the pie than they currently do? If you want to take that argument a bit further, we are all teachers of different types. Others learn from us. Some educate others with training, while others do not have the credentials, but they leave impressions. Even with that statement, teachers have gotten the training that’s needed. They learned how to diffuse situations in classrooms; they see how to look at specific behaviors and demeanors of the student. They have insight when their students are abused or suffering from addiction or other issues. These teachers are heroes. They may not don a cape, but they dress the world in knowledge.
The best teachers are the ones who allow students to think for themselves. It’s easy to inflict one’s views and beliefs onto others, but a true teacher asks questions. They want to know what a student is thinking. They may disagree with the answer, but they often learn more from their students than they teach. I remember Mrs. Campbell, my kindergarten teacher. She had long, golden hair, was probably in her twenties and made each child feel special. If a student struggled, she didn’t single them out. Instead, she made stories that came to life through puppets, music, and plays. She wanted us to use our imaginations. When it came time for a Christmas play, she had all of us take aluminum foil and wrap it around our feet while we made little pointy toes to look like elves. It was a time of innocence, learning, and adventure. To this day, I am grateful for the lessons she taught us about how to treat each other. Her lessons were the beginning of my comprehension of social skills.
Then there were lessons from teachers like Mrs. Kratz. She was my first-grade teacher. She was beautiful to the other students, but she didn’t like me. I had never had someone that upset me so much that I’d go home with wet drawers until she taught me. I don’t know what was happening in her life, but she used her views against me. As a child, I had no comprehension of why she was so cruel. I’ve learned why later in life, but at the time, I was six years old. I think that’s why I see so many people exasperated with the school system. The teachers don’t always know how to handle their emotions, and sometimes the students pay the price. I know that’s not the intention, but if teachers are given a stronger support system from the community and those they work for, they might feel appreciated and respected.
The teachers I spoke of were in the seventies, and the curriculums, challenges, and lessons have advanced steadily since then. What matters is the willingness of those incredible folks to step up and teach students. Teaching is one of the most rewarding fields, but it is also one of the most looked down upon positions. If you ask many people with advanced degrees to teach, they will look at you like you have lost your mind. Teachers are aware that many unruly kids have zero respect for anyone, much less themselves.
If you are one of the teachers in today’s world, thank you. If you are a retired teacher, thank you for helping shape future generations. People don’t realize the sacrifices many teachers make, but they see the work pay off when students succeed. If you’ve had teachers positively influence you, I hope you find ways to reach out and say thanks. Teachers are humans, and when children fail, teachers often feel that they are failing a child. Many times this is not what’s happening. There could be issues at home or in a child’s personal life that affect their work. That’s why it’s great when teachers recognize problems and help students find solutions when students can’t see a way to fix the things wrong in their lives.
Since schools are resuming, let’s all remember that not only are students anxious, but the teachers are anxious and excited. Teachers arm themselves with knowledge, courage, and the most important weapon of all – love. Even with all the issues associated with teachers, many arm themselves with wisdom, courage, and an essential tool – love. If a person loves to teach and loves students, it’s a combination that offers a lifetime of memories and mentors. The thanks that many of us have for those teachers throughout our lifetime is immeasurable. So to my friends in the world of education, thank you. Your efforts are not in vain and are uplifting people every day. Have a great day, everyone.