I remember being a high school student and starting to notice that some of my teachers looked tired and walked into the classroom with an air of defeat, just another day toward carrying out a sentence or punishment of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I had my share of involved teachers that were motivating and energetic. These motivated teachers made me pay attention and actually care about the lesson to be learned. I often wondered what happened to these other teachers, you know, the bitter ones that had exhaustion in their eyes.
A number of my relatives are educators in one form or another. My sister is a “school office lady” (that was the official title I gave my own school receptionist!) Only now can I appreciate that this school office lady is a jack of all trades who makes the school run smoothly. She is a counselor, a nurse, a mediator, a coordinator, a tutor, a scheduler, and more. So, thank you school office lady at Bulkeley High School! One of my aunts is a Spanish/English tutor among other things and another aunt is a behavior tech, while a third is a teacher’s assistant in a special education classroom. All four of these ladies are excited and filled with hope about who they may be able to help. They go to work each day, loving their job, challenging as it may be, and rising to the challenge because they care about the kids they are helping. This hard work and dedication seems all worth it. Why? Because someday there may be one kid, just one kid, that may say, “aha, I got it!”, or, “thank you,” or, “you made a difference.” Perhaps the difference they make may not be expressed in words. It may be that a student ceases to have fits when transitioning to a different activity or that grades are improved.
In an often thankless job such as education, I can see how many educators would be frustrated by the long hours (often unpaid), the lack of support, and the low pay. How can school systems keep teachers motivated and excited to do their jobs? What can parents do to support their children’s educators? What can school administrators and Superintendents do to help?