7 Things People Might NOW Know About Teachers

A few years ago I wrote an article about 7 things people might NOT Know About Teachers. I re-read it this week and couldn’t believe it. All of these things are still true, but it seems that many people do know these things about teachers now that we have all been going through emergency remote learning.

Take a look below, and thank you to all the teachers, school staff, school admin, and educators who have been doing this incredibly hard work in unbelievably challenging times!

As a student I couldn’t even guess what my teachers were doing when they weren’t teaching. Mostly because I did not care enough to pay attention. Sure, I knew the impact some of my teachers and coaches had on me, but the teenage mind didn’t allow me to comprehend what a teacher does all day.

Flash forward a few years and I had the itch. My experience in Swaziland working with youth led me down the path of education. I wanted to be a teacher, and my classes were showing me there was a lot more to the job than I originally thought. After observation days at various schools and districts across Pennsylvania, I finally made it to student teaching. Lucky for me, my cooperating teacher was the perfect fit. Paul took me around school the first day explaining what everyone did (not just himself). We talked about duties, staff meetings, department collaborations, administration’s role, and of course…the students. He didn’t get tired of my questions (at least that I know of ha) and let me go on my own a few times early to get my feet wet. But mostly, I learned by watching how he interacted with his students, his colleagues, and his administration professionally but also in a friendly manner.

Now I stand at the other end of the teaching spectrum. I’m a district-level administrator and my daughter is in fifth grade, and a son in 2nd grade and a son in Kindergarten. I’m excited about my roles as administrator and dad of school-aged kids, but also don’t want to forget what teachers do on a daily basis for our students. Because teachers do a lot. In fact, I noticed that in talking with many people they didn’t understand all that goes into teaching. Here’s seven things teachers do that many people don’t ever think about…

1. We plan…a lot

Teachers plan year round (yes, especially in the summer). With an ever-changing and almost always new curriculum, standards, and technology…there are always changes to be made when looking at the “big picture” of the school year. However, most of the planning comes during the school year when lessons, activities, and assessments have to be created…then modified…then tweaked…and then changed again to differentiate within the classroom. Many teachers I know really enjoyed the planning process, and took pride in their lessons, activities, and assessments. The teachers I worked with the past two years would spend almost 20 hours a week planning, and often more especially during this pandemic teaching online.

2. We care…

Teachers care like crazy. We want all of our students to be successful and will try anything to get them to feel accomplished. This can lead to many discussions on “what to do” and hours spent outside of the general “class time” working with students to help them overcome difficulties. I’ve met many teachers who bring this home with them as well. Wearing their heart on their sleeve for students and families is part of the job for many teachers. Now that we are working online this has never been more important.

3. We collaborate like musicians

Come to a school and you’ll see teachers working together, planning lessons, talking through curriculum points, and creating projects. We have shared documents online where notes are filled up throughout the school year and during the summer. Better yet, online social networks and tools like Twitter have increased this exponentially. We have “Twitter chats” for almost every possible “sub-topic” possible in the educational field. Gone are the days of teachers shutting the doors to their classrooms, instead it is open and shared with the world. This has continued in our new online reality.

4. We take our profession seriously

We spend hours decorating, organizing, and making our classroom a perfect learning environment. (We are trying our best to do the same with online environments). We go to conferences to connect with other educators throughout the year (and especially in the summer). We write blogs, books, lead in services, discuss online and in person how we can improve education for children in our own school and around the world.

5. We are life-long learners

We continue to learn both formally and informally as we grow as professionals. Schools have been changing and teachers are changing along with them. It’s not easy to completely overhaul curriculum and technology and standards, but teachers are doing this time and time again. Why? Because learning is in our DNA. It’s who we are and why we teach and value a good lesson over an easy one. We know what it’s like to be a student, so we can create better experiences for our own students. We’ve done this and then some during our current reality.

6. We do so much more than teach

Personally, I coached two teams (football and lacrosse), ran a large school club (FANS), wrote curriculum, helped plan after-school events, wrote college recommendations, helped seniors with their graduation projects (things like creating a dodgeball tournament), and so much more. This isn’t just me, this is teachers all over. Sure, we teach every day. But we are also doing so much more than teaching. Every single day.

7. We didn’t get into education for the money but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it

You won’t find many teachers who got into education to make good money. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to fight for pay raises and get paid what we feel we deserve. This is different from district to district, state to state, and country to country. But please don’t think teachers that are fighting for their income to support their own families don’t care about your children. We sure do. As school funding comes to a critical inflection point, this has never been more important to understand.

I realize that everyone has had their own good and bad experience with teachers in their own life. Some have probably been overly positive and I’m sure some have been negative. As I become a parent of a student I never want to forget what teachers do every day that goes above and beyond their job responsibilities. That’s what makes this profession so rewarding, and that’s why we love our teachers and all the staff who make a school (whether online or in-person) more than just a school.

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Dawn Frier says:

    You nailed it! We do all those things. We spend our own money on the kids too – supplies, food, supplements for field trips, etc.

    We also didn’t do it for summers off – as you said, we plan all year. We spend a great deal of time evenings and weekends that takes up far more time than we “take off”

    Thanks for a well worded post.

  • Karen Rast says:

    We also sacrifice time with our own families for the benefit of our students. My own kids always said that my students got me at my best and they got the left-overs!

  • Steve Guenin says:

    Thank you for all of your efforts. I appreciate all you do for our profession.

  • Dawn Hilliard says:

    Thank you. It was well said.

  • Lynn Cashell says:

    I am proud to be in your orbit. Everything you said is so true and there is even more! We are also wives, husbands, parents, grandparents, and caregivers. We make a thousand decisions before the kids arrive and exponentially more than that when they do. The challenges are real and we rise to meet every one of them. You can tell a teacher by the response to the question, “How are your kids?” and the answer is to go on and on for 20 minutes about your class when the question was really, how are YOUR kids, meaning my own offspring. Teaching is not a job. It is part of who we are.

  • Scott H McKeen says:

    We also serve on committees, attend meetings, organize Professional development, and participate in the collective bargaining process. Some also serve as staff reps and on the local Union Executive.

  • Laura Fortunato says:

    I believe that teaching is a vocation. We do it for the passion, dedication and service to nurture our students to learn and grow.

  • Jim S. says:

    I am married to a teacher – an outstanding teacher who exemplifies every quality you list, and whose testing scores year-after-year prove her ability. But, when I was growing up, I knew what teachers did when they weren’t in the classroom – they sat in the lounge and smoked. They drank while at work. They didn’t care when they made mistakes and the kids corrected them. Even worse, they were in it SOLELY for the money. Not usually great money, but it was easy money, especially when they were tenured. They routinely disappeared from the classroom and students taught themselves from the textbooks and mimeographed handouts. And yes, even back then, the teachers were sleeping with their students. I know this firsthand.

    Was this every teacher? Not hardly. But it could easily have been half.

    Fast-forward to 2018 and I live in a state with nearly all teachers non-unionized. Greater than 90% of the teachers I know (and I know a lot since I married one) fit the ideal mold that you project. They are hired on their merit and contracts are renewed based on their productivity. NO teachers face any undue scrutiny or are terminated without cause because there is a shortage nearly everywhere. On the contrary, the few bad apples (who aren’t sleeping with students) still have jobs because of the “warm body” syndrome.

    I agree with the image of teachers you portray currently and am glad you posted it. But, the mere fact that you had to should emphasize that this has not always been the case. You are fighting the current educator stereotypes because of the historical egregious abuses.

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