Now I am back in the early stages of a new school year, I am encountering some time-juggling issues and so have less time for reading selections of my choosing and even less for writing compositions other than lengthy to-do lists. I just saw Sabrina’s latest post and I have to say that she accurately portrays the mountain of tasks we are expected to accomplish in the course of our work day. There really isn’t a way to give equal attention to everything that we need to get done at work–I have my own meaningful list of additional accomplishments and special projects intended to benefit students that have been thrust to the bottom of my list by external obligations or interruptions. When I was a new teacher I was younger (and single) and it didn’t matter so much if I stayed at school until the building closed or if I took a pile of work home. Well, it does matter now–I have my own kids who need my attention, who need bedtime stories and help with homework. I also have a husband to spend time with, I have friends who are important to me, and there are leisure activities that I hope to enjoy, as well as a house to maintain. If you investigate the average pay of a teacher, you will find that we really don’t make enough to pay others to help us with things like domestic tasks. Like most people, teachers have to prioritize and we need balance in our lives so that we can effectively fulfill our roles and responsibilities.
However, there seems to be this perception that a teacher should be uncomplainingly altruistic at all costs, a drone selflessly sacrificing time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return. Journals publish rose-tinted stories of self-sacrificing teachers who work tirelessly to help their students. People say things like,”Why shouldn’t teachers devote extra hours, don’t they care about children?” & “Hey, what’s their gripe? They get summers off!” In reports about union negotiations and teachers’ demands, newspapers like the Denver Post persist in negative portrayals when we ask for better benefits packages, or cost-of-living raises, or clearer language about teacher planning time. I mentioned this in a previous post and I don’t think it’s excessive to repeat myself. I’ll paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield: we get too little respect– from the press, the public, our governing bodies, (ahem) our pay. I am back at school and already feel like Lucy Ricardo in the chocolate factory. After a busy summer I am back on this tight wire, doing my balancing acts. Balancing my responsibilities of work and home, balancing the picky work things I’m expected to do with the meaningful things I believe will benefit my students in the long run. Balancing my voice here on behalf of teachers with my voice on behalf of students. Balancing my checkbook and balancing my datebook and hoping it all works out for the best even if I can’t do it all exactly as I had hoped.