Incidentally, I think this will be a short blog anyway, but yes, I am writing this blog more or less because I don’t feel like doing my other work.
On the side, while I still identify myself as a writer (most of the time – you still have to accommodate for audience) I work as a teacher. I have a great teaching job, but honestly, I would never recommend it to my children. Which is really sad, considering the best people I knew growing up were teachers. But there’s just too too too much work and guilt and responsibility involved.
For example, I have a pile of tests and papers to grade. I don’t get paid for it by hour, even though it’ll take me hours. And you know the kids’ll just look at it – maybe, if I am lucky – but still do the same things over and over and over again before they worry about fixing it for the test. The parents, if they are present in the children’s lives at all, will likely not care or do nothing. Unless I send an email, call them up, or get a warrant for their arrest (which I would love to do, but don’t think I can, really). Even with the good parents you don’t really hear a good “Thanks for teaching my son/daughter! We love you, wouldn’t be here without you, etc., etc….”
Why do I teach then? Is it that I am compelled to search for that one kid who makes me feel like it was worth getting out of bed, saying good-bye to my own kids in the morning, and heading out to work? Is it some idealistic belief that the world needs education? Is it one of those heart-rendering “I believe books can change the world” type of things they make into movies?
Not really. I just don’t feel useful unless I teach. I like books. I love books. I would love to just sit around and write books all day. But I can’t, because unless I co-author a book with James Patterson, and maybe even present myself as a man to the literary criticism world, I won’t get far fast enough to make the kind of money that will prevent myself from losing my house and providing for my family.
Well, I suppose it’s not that bad. I do have some of that idealism, but it’s buried underneath a mortgage and bills and tiredness and laziness and a bunch of other excuses. And it’s further buried as I go into the classroom and nearly all my students, even at where I work now (in a private school) are like: “Uh…What did we work on last class, Ms. J? I forgot,” and “I don’t have my homework ’cause my mom didn’t understand it,” and “You didn’t say that before!”
Another thing about teaching that sucks: You have to be PC. So I can’t respond with “That’s because you didn’t take notes like you were supposed to,” and “Your mom isn’t supposed to be doing the homework. You are! And I don’t think she would like it if I gave her a report card on how poorly she is parenting if that’s really how it is at your house,” and “Yes, I did say that, but you probably didn’t think it was important.”
I have respond with “Let’s go ahead and discuss the last class together to start off then,” and “Let’s pull out your homework and go over it really quickly,” and “Well, let’s talk about what we need to do then, shall we?”
And I’m not even allowed to do it with a sarcastic tone, either. Which really sucks.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a good job. I have a great job compared to what it was like when I first started teaching. But I hate the extra working hours grading, I hate a lot of the politics, and I hate all the students’ laziness and excuses. It’s hard to convince people, day after day, that your information for them is valuable, and you deserve much more than what the school is paying you.
Now that I’ve finished my rant, I’ll go ahead and finish grading, because I have to. And I do believe that I should, as a teacher, model for my students the reality that even though you might not want to do something, you still have to do it. And you do your best at it, because while it might not matter to you, it will matter to someone.