This is a guest post by author Michelle L. Bowers
The Real Definition of a School Teacher
Over the past 20 years as an educator, I have heard many misconceptions and beliefs about what the definition of a school teacher is. I would like to clear things up by explaining the difference between the world’s definition and the real definition of a school teacher. First, let’s look at the world’s definition. I will begin by painting a picture of what the world, consisting of people and organizations outside of education, believes a school teacher’s job involves.
“Ring, ring, ring…is the sound everyone hears.” The bell rings and eager children scurry to their seats, in an effort to secure the closest spot to the teacher. As the teacher approaches the front of the classroom, every child sits up attentively awaiting the words that will come forth. The teacher begins to teach the lesson, and the class is filled with lively participation. The teacher gets a lunch break and continues the day with more lessons. As the day comes to a close, the teacher reflects on the day and relishes in all that was accomplished. Each day is more of the same and the rest of the year is capped off with holiday breaks, which lead to a restful summer of flip-flops and latte’s.
According to this picture, you could say the world’s definition of a school teacher is someone who shows up each day to a class full of eager learners, and spends the day teaching lessons with no obstacles. This definition makes the world believe that a school teacher’s job is a piece of cake. This belief has created a flawed attitude about the job of a teacher. This attitude has created comments like “Well, if you can’t find a real job, you can always be a teacher.” Or, you see billboards which say, “Out of work, come teach today.” These sayings insinuate that anyone can do the job of a teacher. Sadly, many people find out how untrue this really is, and they run out of the profession before the ink dries on their contract. So, we see what the world believes about teachers, and it is simply not the truth.
Now, I would like to give you the truth and the real definition of a teacher. First, I must paint a picture of what a teacher experiences in the classroom.
Ring, ring, ring…the bell rings and children slowly come into the classroom. Loud chattering occurs as students begin to talk to one another. The teacher makes the necessary attempts to get their attention. As the lesson begins, the teacher notices several distractions. One student is slumped over his desk appearing to be sleepy. Another student is fidgeting with something in her desk, while trying to appear to be listening. Yet another student is walking to the trash can for the third time, appearing to be getting tissue but only moving around to get attention from the class. When the teacher decides to stop and try to regain the attention of the class, the phone rings and the office asks for paperwork to be sent down. Once the lesson begins again, a child asks to go visit the nurse and is in need of a nurse pass. After writing the pass, the teacher starts teaching again and finally makes it through the lesson.
Then, on the teacher’s conference period, a parent shows up to complain about a student’s grade. The parent gets irate and curses at the teacher. The teacher is told to make an adjustment to the student’s grade to appease the parent. As the teacher leaves the office, the teacher feels very disregarded and disrespected. Later that day, as the teacher is teaching a lesson using a digital device, a student becomes upset. The student throws the device and hits the teacher. The teacher goes to get help from the office, while the child is spoken to by another adult. After the commotion is over, the teacher attempts to teach again. While most of the students are listening, one student is sleeping on his desk. The teacher stops to try waking him up. The class keeps working while the teacher attempts to call his parents. There is no answer, so a message is left.
At this point in the lesson the teacher realizes several students need individual help. Therefore, the teacher calls a small group to a table and works with them. By the time the day ends, the teacher is exhausted but still has to attend a training meeting afterschool. In this meeting teachers get to review test data, and hear about ways they should be working harder to meet expectations. This is disheartening when they feel like they’re doing everything possible already. And one word about summer breaks here…after enduring a challenging school year; a break is absolutely warranted and necessary. Even so, many teachers work other jobs in addition to attending mandatory trainings throughout the summer. Clearly, this job is not a piece of cake.
In fact, no teacher would ever say their job is a piece of cake. As you can see from this scenario, teaching involves multiple challenges and pitfalls, which sometimes include verbal and physical abuse. Actually, this scene is only a snapshot of what a day can bring, because the age level of the students will dictate a plethora of issues that must be dealt with on a daily basis.
Now that you have the real picture, it is time to share the real definition of a school teacher. A school teacher is someone who shows up each day:
To make a difference by teaching young people even in an hostile environment
To make progress in students’ lives even when they have to face disgruntled parents
To be a supporter to students even after dealing with an enormous amount of insults and criticism
To transform students’ lives even during the process of managing an enormous amount of bad behavior
To be an educational advocate to students even when attacked mentally, emotionally and physically
To show love to students even when hatred and resentment is returned
To exchange hard work even when an enormous amount of disrespect is returned from students and parents
To exchange free time even when no appreciation and ungratefulness is returned
This definition shows that a school teacher’s journey is filled with many ups and downs. On this up and down journey, a teacher must have tenacity. It is tenacity that makes them tough, persistent, bold and courageous. It is tenacity that helps them plow through obstacles and barriers that come their way. It is tenacity that won’t let their hard work, and free time go in vain. In other words, it is tenacity that makes their journey as a teacher unforgettable.
Now, you have the real definition of a school teacher! According to this definition, teachers should be honored, praised and held in high esteem! They should be supported and appreciated for the contribution they make to our society. If nothing else, knowing the real definition of a teacher will encourage others to have a more realistic view of what teachers actually experience and hopefully stop people from saying, “If I can’t do anything else, I can always be a teacher.”