Tuesday, January 29, 2013

a rant: what people THINK vs. the TRUTH

I rarely rant on here.
But this is my space and I can do what I want with it.
And today I choose to rant.
About what?
About education.
About what people THINK I do... and I what I actually DO.

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People THINK:
I'm a kindergarten teacher. So I must just sit and color all day.

Teach my 4 and 5 year old students ( most of whom have never been to preschool) how to function in a school setting. How to tie their shoes. How to put on and zip up their jackets. How to walk in a line. How to raise their hand. How to be a good friend...AND... How to recognize numbers. How to READ BOOKS. How to add and subtract. How to write sentences, and then turn those sentences into stories. Yes, we do color occasionally...but that is because kids do actually need a chance to be kids once in awhile. But by no means do we "sit and color" all day.

People THINK:
It can't really be that hard to teach little kids all day.

Have 24 students. All at different levels of development. Who all come from different backgrounds. I have many kids who I've taught to read, and a couple who still can't tell me what the letter B is. I have kids who live with both parents in a middle class home, and others who come from single parent homes, and worry about whether they're going to eat dinner that night or not. So not only do I have to teach the "smart" kids, but I have to catch the struggling ones up. Not only do I have to TEACH my 24 students, but I have to be a counselor, someone to help them with their problems, wipe away their tears, understand what they're going through, and sympathize with them

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People THINK:
That my day starts at 8:00 and ends at 3:00

Arrive about 45 minutes before school starts. I use that time to respond to emails, prepare for my day, run last minute copies, etc. Then I teach until lunch. During that 30 minute lunch, I am dealing with behavior problems, grading papers, checking up on kinders who have peed their pants or threw up the Mountain Dew their parents sent with them for a snack. During my prep time, I am in grade-level meetings, grading more papers, checking homework, planning for the next day, planning for small group instruction, doing paperwork, etc. After ALL of my students leave and my DAILY dismissal duty is over, it is 3:50. I then go back to my room and clean up the disaster that has occured throughout the day. I sharpen pencils, I put papers in mailboxes. I make copies for the next day. I create assessments. I GRADE assessments. I create center games. I cut. I laminate. I make homework packets. I come up with new strategies to reinforce skills that some of my students are struggling with. I have parent meetings. I fill out parents communication logs. I make parent phone calls. I respond to emails. I {sometimes} try to get ahead. I usually get to leave work around 5:30 or 6. And then I get home and typically get on Pinterest to find fun and engaging ideas for lessons that will keep my students interested enough to pay attention to. I read blogs from other Kindergarten teachers, to see what they're doing in THEIR classrooms. So no, my day in no way begins at 8 and ends at 3.
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People THINK:
I do no work in the summer.

Do take a bit of a breather in the summer. But that doesn't mean I don't work. I'm constantly researching new ways to teach while I'm off. I create games. I laminate. I come up with new homework packets. I make new communication logs. I come up with new projects. I make binders. I research different curriculums online. I rearrange and set up the classroom. I spend my OWN money on crayons, scissors, pencils, notebooks, pencil boxes, erasers, markers, books, baskets, bins, pencil sharpeners, puzzles, dice, letter tiles, and anything else that goes into my classroom. Out of all the things in my classroom at this minute? I'd say about 90% of it belongs to me. That I bought with OUR hard earned money.
So yes...I might have 8 weeks off from students. And I take a good amount of that time to enjoy myself and relax. But by no means do I just lay out and get a tan all day every day.

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I could keep going....but I'm not ranting because I hate my job. On the contrary, I've spoken before about just how much I enjoy my job. But I do get tired of non-educators cutting down the work I do. The work ALL teachers do.

I recently watched a documentary called "American Teacher."
And I was appalled by some of the statistics in it.
Like the stat that said 46% of all teachers quit the profession within the first 5 years.
46%...that's almost HALF.
And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most people just don't get how gosh darn HARD we work. And how little we are compensated, or even respected, for that matter.
So I finally felt like I just had to speak my piece and get it off my chest.
Because I do work hard.
And I care more about my 5 year olds than they will ever begin to understand.
And I just wish that more people would recognize that.

I do way more than just color all day.
And I'm proud of it.

xoxo, wife.

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