Thursday, May 10, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week

If Twitter hashtags are to be believed, it's Teacher Appreciation Week.

I'm not in the education workforce but I know plenty of people who are. One of my exes is currently a teacher, I've got a few friends in the field too, many of my trading partners on here are known to be teachers, and a few of my friends on Twitter are also teachers. Further reinforcing the rule that you need to be a teacher or lawyer to be a baseball blogger (note, I hope I can break that mold one day if I manage to make it in the field I'm trying to enter).

Even though I'm not a teacher, I do have a general idea of what it takes to get to being a teacher and how the rewards greatly outweigh the benefits. Or at least they do in New York City. For any teachers out there feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but my limited understanding of the road to teaching is kind of like this...

You go through college majoring in education and one other subject, then near the end your college career you begin to log long hours of fieldwork (internships?) to get used to the grind of teaching on a daily basis and constantly coming up with lesson plans using the time you have when you're not teaching (which is basically whenever you're not sleeping).

Then you graduate with loads of debt on your shoulders along with a temporary teaching license. Then you're given a certain amount of time to go after a permanent one. The requirements for which include getting a masters and gaining several years worth of experience in a real school. All while likely getting paid jack shit. Good luck with that.

After that I'd assume you start looking for a school that'll actually hire you and possibly give you tenure/benefits/a pension etc... But chances are you're going to see that the only jobs available are charter schools with high turnover rates because those schools happen to be bad places to work. Then the rest of your career begins and you either leave teaching and opt for a more administrative role a few years in because of sheer burnout, or you stay behind because you're the weirdo who actually has an odd sense of pride, love and passion in what you do.

And after (hopefully?) decades of teaching, you'll grow old while probably still being in college loan debt with absolutely nothing in terms of post-retirement savings, and a pension that probably won't pay out when you want/need it to.

This is also omitting the stresses of the job itself which includes (but isn't limited to) having to deal with demon spawn, the parents of said demon spawn who really show that the apples don't fall far from the tree, the demands of an education system that relies far too much on standardized testing, shrinking budgets and the myriad of ways violence can erupt in a school-zone.

Hmm... now that I type all of this out, I think the picture I painted of the teaching profession is a lot more grim than it actually is. But this is my perception of what the teaching life is like based on a). what my ex went/is going through and b). articles on the Washington Post/New York Times/Atlantic that make teaching seem like one of the shittiest job ever.

What I can say as an undeniable fact is that I could never be a teacher. Not full time at least. I'd be the guy who'd just drudge through reluctantly for five years before giving up and publishing a book about child psychology hoping the royalties can pay for my morning coffee.


What is also an undeniable fact is that I have a huge appreciation for teachers who are really good at at what they do. Even moreso after I found out what had to go into them reaching the jobs they're in now. It is a tough ass job that's also extremely important, and I tip my hat off to those that choose to stay with it.

They deserve a lot more credit and respect than just during the span of a week, and they damn sure deserve a lot more in terms of wages and benefits. I'm not the first to utter that opinion and I won't be the last either because life is terrible.

Still though, shout outs to Fuji, Tom and everybody else in teaching. You're great.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

15 comments:

  1. Good post! I know we've got some great teachers on here.

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  2. I can't speak for all teachers, but my experience was similar in some aspects yet different in others. It took me six years to get my BA and a teaching credential, but that's because I took my time and honestly procrastinated because I was scared of the "real world". If I was more motivated, I could have gotten everything finished in five to 5 1/2 years. I went to a community college for the first two years and SJSU for my degree and credential, so that kept college expenses down.

    I did owe a lot of money entering the real world, but that's because I was irresponsible with a credit card. I spent the first five years in the classroom living off of microwave popcorn, ramen, and canned fruit paying off my debt.

    Being a public school teacher doesn't exactly pay a lot. The first few years were really tough, because you're low on the salary schedule and you're forced to build up your library of resources (which can get pretty pricey) and stock up on supplies.

    However... after five years of doing this... and paying off my debt, I saved up and bought a place after the Bay Area housing started to go up, but before the big boom.

    These days my salary allows me to live comfortably and debt free with the exception of my mortgage. I'm even able to put a decent chunk of my salary into saving, plus have money left over to enjoy life.

    Two of the biggest perks in regards to money is having a solid pension plan and decent health coverage.

    Plus there's the non monetary benefits of the job, which include plenty of vacations, good work hours (with the exception of certain times of the year), and the feeling of appreciation you receive from your current and former students.

    It sounds silly, but receiving a handmade thank you card from one of your former students who just got accepted into Berkeley or NYU can make your feel as good as pulling an Ohtani rookie card from a pack.

    As for curriculum and lesson plans, it depends on the individual teacher and their principals/districts. I have a great principal who watched over me for years, but now that I've earned his trust, he's very laid back. I've been teaching the same class for a decade now, so my lesson plans are almost the same year in and year out. My friend (who teaches the same class) and I will usually look over our lessons and swap out about 10 to 20% of the curriculum to keep things fresh, but it's usually hammered out in one summer afternoon hanging out at Starbucks with her.

    Obviously this comment is very simplified... as there are times I stress out over things like budget cuts or contract negotiations (something we're currently dealing with in my district), but overall I couldn't think of a better career choice for myself.

    Anyways... thanks for the shout out. It feels good to be appreciated every now and then ;)

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    1. Thanks for the thorough writeup on your experiences Fuji. I think you just wrote down an entire posts worth lol.

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  3. Every week is Teacher Appreciation Week in my mind, especially after seeing what a lot of my former college professors went through (the adjuncts in particular) over the last couple years when my state's budget crisis got out of hand. Many of them barely made more than I did at my crap near-minimum wage job.

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    1. Agreed, the teachers without tenure deserve better.

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  4. Thanks, Zippy. I didn't expect to log in to the card blogs today to get some teacher appreciation, but I'll take it.

    Good observation about teachers and lawyers. It does seem that card blogging community leans a bit heavy to those professions.

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    1. Well at least this card community is a bit more diverse.

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  5. Nice little shout-out to all the teachers and professors, who don't get nearly enough appreciation for enduring all the things you mentioned (I think I read the same WaPo/NYT articles as you.) Also glad to hear Fuji share his personal experiences, and shine a positive light on the profession.

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    1. I agreed, a little positivity was nice to see from someone in the profession. Although I'm still sure it's a tough job.

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  6. The most underpaid profession in my opinion. How lawyers make more than teachers is beyond me. Thanks to all the teachers!

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    1. I'd rather not tear anyone down to raise somebody else up. Instead I'd wonder why aren't paying teachers more in general and leave it at that.

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  7. Thanks for the shout-out. I'm definitely one of those who "stay behind because you're the weirdo who actually has an odd sense of pride, love and passion in what you do." I truly enjoy what I do, and I've worked my tail off to be in a position where I can coach and teach my preferred classes.
    There's a lot I'd change, just as many of you would do with your job/position/work place, but I think I'll be a classroom guy until I'm set to retire. ZZ outlined a lot of the negatives, nearly all of which I have experienced first hand, but the positives do outweigh them.
    I'll echo Fuji's statement about the handmade thank you cards. I got one today from a senior who is graduating this weekend and it actually brought a tear to my eye. It's nice to know you're appreciated, but even more so to learn you've made a difference in someone's life, no matter how small.

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    1. Glad to know that you're in a stable and comfortable position in your profession too Tom.

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