Saturday, January 16, 2010

The life of a teacher Day 2

Today I graded papers for 3 hours and then entered grades into our school's online grading system. Some people seem to believe that a teacher's job is easy and they say things like, "Oh, you get to leave every day at 3:30pm," or "You are off for the entire summer, how easier can your job be?" or "You are off for winter break, Spring break, and many other major holidays, that must be nice." Well, let me inform all of those people who believe a teacher's job is easy.

I work about 60 hours or more a week (Five-day week). Then, when I come home for the weekend I spend another 3 to 10 hours working depending upon how much preparation work I have to do and how many papers I have to grade. This weekend happened to be a light one. I try to make my lessons creative and fun, but creativity and fun comes with a price, that price is my time. For example, my advanced algebra students are currently working on a murder mystery group project. The students' job is to determine who killed the victim given a set of parameters. They must use trigonometry and other mathematical concepts to determine the height of the murderer. Then, they select the killer from the list of suspects that I provide. They love it! And I love that they love it! It makes me feel as if the total preparation time was time well spent.

Besides the numerous hours of work that most teachers have, we also have to deal with attitudes and behavioral problems. Do you think your teenagers are bad at home and give you attitude? Well, try three thousand teenagers!! In my classes I have a total of about 120 students.....try that on for size! What I wouldn't give to have smaller classes!

Now, I could be a lazy teacher. I could have a no homework policy. I could give worksheets every day and only have to prepare copies and never create any fun activities for my students. I could give shortened versions of tests and quizzes so that I have less to grade. I could leave every day at 3:30p.m. and not care about my students needing help after school or care about preparing for classes. I could come in every morning right before the bell rings and never be available for morning help. I could quit my after school tutoring hours. Then, my job would be much easier and I could see why people would say it was easy. But, I am not like that. Neither are most of my colleagues. So, let me just inform you non-believers.....a teacher's job is NOT easy! I would like you to try my job for three months, I guarantee you will not think that it is easy!


Friday, January 15, 2010

The life of a teacher Day 1

I have been teaching for 11 years; high school of all places. I teach mathematics, the favorite subject of many people. Recently, I thought about my high school times and have always remembered that I, nor anyone else, ever thought to talk back to a teacher. We looked up to teachers, we cared about learning (or at least I did) and we loved to learn (even if some concepts and ideas were never used again, we still wanted to know and understand them). I still remember reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" which happened to be the book I adored most as a youngster. I remember my Geometry class and the thousands of proofs that we did throughout the semester. My Geometry teacher in high school said to me, "You should be a Geometry teacher".....really, she did say that to me. I responded, "Teachers do not make enough money." Now, lo and behold, here I am teaching Geometry! WOW! I never thought that would happen.

But, high school is so different now. Students talk back to teachers. Students don't want to learn unless they earn points for it! They won't even complete a task unless it is worth something. I asked a student last semester, "Could you please erase the board for me," and they respond, "Do I get extra credit points for doing that." I said, "Why?, why would you get extra credit points for doing your teacher a favor?"

What happened to the love of learning? It has left our society. Students ask, "If I am never going to use this again, why do I have to learn it?" Because, you knucklehead, it will expand your knowledge beyond the blinders of information that are the only things you believe you need to know. Let me give you an example. If you wanted to be a doctor, is it best to just learn about the human body and only the human body? Would you need other knowledge? Would you need math? Hell no! You would not need math to be a doctor, you only need to know about the human body. Would you need to know how to research the latest medical techniques? Hell no! You would only need to learn about the human body. If every doctor thought this way, then I would be scared to go to the doctor!