Life happens to teachers, just like everyone else. In one of the last chapters of our book, I relate some emotional and physical challenges I experienced over a two-year period while I was still teaching. Regardless of what was happening in my life, I was still expected to open my classroom door every day and teach my classes with enthusiasm and creativity. Some days it was a welcome distraction to interact with and teach my students, but on others, it was very difficult to maintain a professional demeanor. During the days when life has thrown you a curve ball, you have to reach deep down and pull up an extra dose of patience to survive.
It’s amazing to realize that students, parents, and large segments of society really don’t understand that teachers have personal lives that can sometimes be very draining. The stresses that come from outside the classroom can be difficult to put aside as you try to deal with other people’s children in a professional and caring manner. I always gave it my best, but some days it was difficult. I’ll let Deidre continue with some examples.
Sue – Voice II
Students oftentimes don’t realize that teachers are people, just like their parents or themselves. I remember telling one class to remain quiet while I stepped out for a restroom break. They looked at me in shock and disbelief as I added, “Yes I do that too.” The quietness was interrupted by infectious laughter! Once they were quiet again, I dashed out quickly and thought how nice it would be to be able to take a break whenever I wanted. It seemed I was always in a rush because one wrong word or tossed pencil when I was not in the classroom could result in a catastrophe, and I would be at fault for not being there while taking care of a basic need. This is the life we have chosen to lead as teachers, but many do not realize it. A bathroom break is a luxury for a teacher – something many people in other careers just take for granted.
Teachers get hungry, just like you. Thirty minutes may sound like a sufficient amount of time, but when you factor in walking your class to and from the lunchroom (five minutes each way), getting your lunch, running a few extra copies, returning a parent’s phone call, etc., that lunch time is gone and ends up being a snack. You are really never off the clock in the teaching profession. These types of things add up to a long, exhausting day.
Teachers get sick just like you, are divorced or have marital problems just like you, grieve lost family members and suffer pain in their bodies while still having to be in that classroom, on the front lines for their students. Many people are quick to criticize teachers, never understanding that teaching is one of those professions where personal needs have to take a “back seat” to others every day. To our fellow teachers, we understand your situation and hope that others will try to “get it” too.
Deidre – Voice I