” What would you like to be when you grow up?”
“I would like to be an English teacher!”
Don’t lie to me and say you’ve never had a slight ambition to become a teacher when you were small. Don’t lie to me and say that you’ve never been inspired by their charms when you were in kindergarten—their cheerfulness, their attentiveness to all your needs, their stance as the most intelligent person that you have met (you would quote them whenever you’d have a conversation with your parents). At some point during your school life, there’s a teacher that you look up to the most as a role model, aiming to be as knowledgeable as them so that don’t have to look at their textbooks when they explain scientific concepts or chronologies of history to the whole class. There’s surely a teacher that has changed your life.
But where did all the teachers go?
In conjunction with National Teachers’ Day, AJ+ gathered a few experienced teachers in their respective fields such as Special Education to address the issue of the decline of the number of teachers in the United States. The factors included lack of resources and materials, a lot of tests has been done on students and teachers and the ill education system.
At first, I questioned why they backed out from one of the most noble occupations in society—I have a firm belief that if someone is passionate about something with a clear purpose and cause, they will stay and fight despite the challenges that they have to face. After I looked back and reflected on what is actually going on in my own school, I am not reluctant to say that if I am offered a position as an English teacher—my dream job since the age of six—I may as well burn the letter. I’ll tell you why, based solely on my observations on the ground as I study at a boarding school
A teacher’s seven-to-five is seven-to-five-until-the-clock-breaks-and-it-continues-after-I-change-the-battery.
They teach in class all day until three, attend meetings after school with the administrations until five, stay back to get some grading done until six, conduct extra classes after school for us, come home and get some more grading done—all of these obligations considered, the luckiest that they can be is to close their eyes by midnight. There will always be another module to be prepared, another teaching plan that needs to be revised and more. They are not only teachers. They are clerks, chauffeurs, coaches, choreographers, and event planners: name any occupation and they have taken that on before.
Their workload doesn’t only occupy their weekdays—it consumes their weekends, too. At my school, Saturday is the sixth day of school for the week, as teachers of every subject will rotate and come to teach us approximately until noon. They have only a day left to rest, probably still spent grading worksheets and printing out more handouts to give out on Monday. Are you willing to sacrifice family gatherings, birthdays, nights out, shopping sales, even your beauty sleep for a job that doesn’t use the term ‘overtime’, thus not pay you for that?
Heightened pressures can cause dedicated teachers to stray from what they love.
Personally, I believe that all teachers who signed up for the teachers’ institute at the first place are very passionate in playing the major role in developing leaders of tomorrow. However, all of the excessive burdens and blames that they undertake as part of the job have deterred their initial passion. A job is not a job when you love your job, but challenging yourself and working under immense stress are two entirely different things, and that is what the education system doesn’t understand. Don’t ever think that these teachers who quit or retire early have given up on teaching. They only gave up on the system, and are making new, safer avenues for them to keep channeling their passion and continue their mission to educate students for a brighter future. Those who are still in mainstream schools are trying very hard to convey their ideas to change the education system to be more holistic and to plan better ways to engage students. The result of someone’s perserverance in teaching doesn’t fruit in a day, and thus it is impossible for them to leave it overnight. Their courage inspires me more each day, and I hope that you see it too.
My teacher once said to me,
“Teaching is not just a job. Teachers play an important role in shaping the future. If this front line collapses, everything else fails. Education is the foundation of success. “
So, are you still up to become a teacher?