After almost five years of teaching, I’ve caught my stride. I work at a great school with phenomenal students and colleagues. However, some days make me question if I woke up back in that first year of teaching with its awful-no good days.
Today was one of those days. I felt like a really terrible teacher. Like more than the 10 percent terrible that I feel on a day-to-day basis. That’s not self-deprecating; there’s at least one thing every teacher sucks at. Mine is attendance. Any administrator of mine reading this – Hi – I’m sorry – don’t hate me.
The truth is, I’m not a bad teacher. I just wasn’t “Freedom Writers” amazing today. And the second truth is that “Freedom Writers” is a bunch of crap.
There. I said it.
If you’re not a teacher and you’ve seen “Freedom Writers,” you’ve bawled your eyes out over that sweet teacher who saved all those at-risk teens. If you’re a teacher and you’ve seen that movie, you’ve bawled your eyes out when her marriage ended because it hit way too close to home.
Others: THIS MOVIE IS SO INSPIRATIONAL – I’M GOING TO BE A TEACHER AND SAVE THE WORLD
Teachers: WHAT THE HELL – NO. OMG. NO. HE’S LEAVING. OMG. NO. DRINK ALL THE WINE, HONEY. DRINK. IT. ALL.
But really part of you gets it. You truly understand why he leaves. Teaching leaves little of you for others. Because when we pull back, we are neglecting students. When we push forward, we’re workaholics. There’s no winning.
There’s never enough. Never enough time, money, materials, etc. Hell, do you know how many single teachers there are? Try explaining your work schedule to someone and see if that sets fire to their rain.
Teacher: “I mean, technically, I get off work around 3, but I have club meetings and parent conferences and the kid who sits at the back of my class and never talks is on the basketball team so I need to go watch him because maybe he’ll start talking and you know I am so behind on grading so I should really take care of that and the teacher across the hall is sick so I said I would watch the comic book club do comic book things that I don’t understand and then I really need to get my oil changed. I’ll be home around 9.”
Wouldn’t that make your womb just flutter? No. It would make you run. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. There should honestly be a dating site just for teachers. Can’t you picture it?
Teacher drinking wine out of her “2 teach is 2 touch lives 4ever” mug and searching “male, 30s, AP US History teacher.”
YOU HAVE A MATCH!
“OMG. OK. HERE GOES. Ok, well that school district is kinda sketch, but OMG HIS TEST SCORES ARE AWESOME. Ok, messaging now…”
“Hi! Meet me at Starbucks Saturday at 8. Bring your lesson plan book.”
And love is born over a chai latte and the Second World War.
I’m really not joking about this. Send me a man who knows how to make a pot of coffee and fix my broken computer monitors, and I’ll put a ring on him. Even if your date is lame, you could totally leave with some rad new lesson plans. EVERYONE WINS.
I digress. In all seriousness, that movie just depresses me. For one thing, I’m angry with her husband for not understanding her innate need to care for those children when obviously no one else was. Rather than resent her, why didn’t he help her? And I’m angry with her for not taking care of herself. Then I’m pissed at Hollywood for setting this cultural standard that the only good teachers are teachers who sacrifice everything and never take an inch for themselves. And I’m pissed at people for being so naive to hold teachers to that standard.
I know people are sick of hearing about teacher problems. Trust me, we see the passive aggressive Facebook statuses.
I wish I got a summer vacation. Must be nice to get off at 3. OMG You’re so lucky you get a long Christmas break – you’ll be so well rested now.
That door swings two ways, cupcake. You want to know how I envy you?
I envy that when you’re sick, you can just go to the doctor. You don’t have to burn a day of your meager sick bank for a doctor’s appointment you’ve rescheduled four times because “DAMMIT NO I CAN’T JUST LEAVE – THERE’S A PROCESS AND I MUST RETRIEVE THE MOST SILVER HAIR OF THE GOBLIN KING FIRST.” Oh, and sub plans – just gag me.
I envy that you could take Mondays or Fridays off because you aren’t concerned about a sub shortage. Yeah, a sub shortage is a thing, and it’s a drought that falls second to only that of water because water is an essential part to coffee.
I envy that parents aren’t calling you “incompetent” through emails or even sometimes in person. It’s my mistake the kid hasn’t turned in anything in three weeks. – my bad. Here’s my left kidney to pay for my mistake.
I envy that you aren’t giving your lunch away to children every day because they are ALWAYS hungry. Turn off the Sarah McLachlan cassette. I’m not making a statement about underfed children. Most of the time I don’t give away my lunch; they just kind of take it. Besides, I get 30 minutes for lunch. Well, after the kids leave it’s about 20. But then I set up for my next class and that takes another 10…
And most of all, I envy that you can go pee WHENEVER YOU WANT. Don’t you ever take this for granted. The next time you pee, you think of me suffering in my classroom. You might find that creepy, but you need to know that for every bathroom break you take there is a teacher doing “the potty dance” until their lunch break. But there’s a 10 minute line, so there goes my last bit of time.
So, I wasn’t “Freedom Writers” awesome today. I didn’t wear a leather jacket and give kids candy bars in exchange for class participation because Michelle Obama would find me, and her arms are way more ripped than mine. I didn’t chain any entrances closed to keep out the bad guys, but I worked my third 11-hour day this week and tenth this semester and I cried about it in front of a kid because, guess what, I had all the emotions at once and there was no going back.
This isn’t a pity party. It’s a shameless plea for Starbucks gift cards. SEND THE SBUX. SEND IT NOW.