Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Our Love Complex

Teaching should be fun.

That's so trite. It oughta be on a landscape background in a loopy font and have 15 retweets so an edu-thought leader could tweet the same thing on a different background and get 750 retweets.

We do this job for 180 days. More if you count weekends and holidays and add up all the extra time like we love to do. Like we're billing by the hour. Or like we wish we could. Is that why we mention how much extra we work? Should we bill hourly? Lawyers and tattoo artists do. I'm not immune to this, and I wish I were. No one wants to hear how much extra you work.

We want to be called superheroes, but why? We're human. We're people. We work with kids and that's hard but frankly I've seen what my mom does and some of the people she has to deal with on a daily basis and that's not much easier. She's not changing the future though. Just the present. Seems harder to change the present. The future you can aim at and adjust to. To change the present you have to steer into a skid you’re already in.

We teachers put a huge emphasis on the future. We should. That’s our business.

Teaching is a huge part of American culture, but its impact is almost completely under the surface. It’s not a flashy profession, it’s a slow burn, long game. I've said it before, but education is a heavily wonky conversation. It's not easy. Very little in education is straightforward. That's why political talk about schooling is so surface. "Yes, education is good. Yes, teachers should get paid more." Lip service, but we crave it like my three-year old craves Hot Wheels. Everyone knows to say these things. Everyone but the ambulating pile of barely sentient hair follicles known as Scott Walker.

I wonder if sanitation workers have similar gripes. I'm not comparing educating the youth of America with making sure the America they grow up in is clean and nice-smelling, but we both probably feel left out of the conversation a lot. Do they gather together and wonder why no one else is talking about the new sanitation laws that are being passed by the Secretary of the Interior? (I'm not sure what government agency is in charge of this, stay with me.) I'd bet anything they think they should be paid more. Their job is very important to the present of our country. Are there sanitation worker memes? A rainbow over a landfill with pretty text, "If Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness, That Makes Us Angels."

I'm as guilty as everyone else. I want teaching to be recognized as important and listened to as such. Ignore the clown shoes I sometimes wear and remember that important is not synonymous with dour. This job is fun. Kids are fun. Kids are goofy as hell (whether you you let them be or not). And here's where the dour people come in, "Well testing has taken all the fun out of schools." To you I blow a raspberry. I fart in your general direction. I started teaching under Bush the Lesser's Reign of Testing. I worked in a district where, no joke, my language arts curriculum was dictated to the page and the minute. We still found ways to have fun. That year I had my tattoo artist come into my room and teach my students about creativity. I've always taught in a testing grade and I've always striven for joy anyway. This job is fun.

We’ve gotta lighten up about it sometimes. This superhero thing that's going around? That's not convincing anyone. Everyone wants to be a superhero. "I'm a prison guard, what's your superpower?" "I'm a fireman, what's your superpower?" "I'm a server, what's your superpower?" I was a server and that job is hard. Is it equal to teaching? No, of course not. But it could still be a superpower. Do you have any idea some of the dopey superpowers that have existed in comic books? I was a lifeguard. That's a superpower. You're literally saving lives. In the present tense.

We should expect respect because teaching is a profession that deserves it. We should demand to be paid a professional wage. We should stand up for ourselves and our kids. We don’t need to hide behind our love for our kids. We adore reminding everyone that students come to school to be loved and damnit that means we love our students and you should pay us more and respect us more because of how deep our love is.

I'm not sure many jobs get paid by how well they love.

...Ok, I can think of one or two.

But in the public's eyes that's not our job. Our job is to educate our kids. They don't care, really, what the nitty-gritty is, just like we don't care what the newest sensation in garbage collection is. We want it done the best possible way, and we’re decent humans so we want the people who do it to know we respect them by how we treat them and how they are paid. They don’t need to be superheroes. And neither do we.

Stop the cliches. Everyone believes the children are our future. One- Whitney told us. Two- It is literally true. We don't need to remind everyone of it.

I love you all, every single person who teaches. This job is hard and you know it like no one else. You’ve been called to it and that keeps you in it when it gets hard. I want you to keep teaching and keep making yourself a better teacher for your students. I want you to internalize that pride because you're good at it and you love it. Not because someone calls you a superhero.

A Savior Complex does not suit us and will not save us.

Be a Teacher. That’s what the profession needs. That’s what our kids need.

1 comment:

  1. I think most of us go in because we think we can be saviors when all we need to do is be caring adults. Our profession is very important but we shouldn't need the pick me ups or empty motivational quotes I see often on Twitter.