By Libby Rego
I am so annoyed.
After wrapping up my 12th year of teaching high school, signing yearbooks and preparing for next year, the cards and farewell messages of thanks from the students I have taught in my English classes are a highlight. These last few days when I am able to see the accomplishments of my kids are wonderfully fulfilling and make up for the annoyances that I deal with on a regular basis when I tell people I am a teacher…almost.
I have to be honest, despite all the wonderful things about being a teacher, a good majority of the time I am pissed off. It isn’t the students who are the cause of this – sure they can be a handful, but they are teenagers and that is to be expected. The biggest pain about being a teacher is a group who are determined to criticize me at every turn, hinder my efforts to educate students, and blame me for everything wrong in American society. This group drives me crazy. And the worst part about this group is that they are everywhere…the Teacher Haters.
Teacher Haters are hard to spot. They look like everyday people, have lots of different jobs and can be found all over the country. However, Teacher Haters become easy to identify once they are introduced to someone who is a teacher, or at the mere mention of school. They feel justified in their beliefs and are quick to reach into their limited arsenal of rhetoric to support their hatred. These slogans that bash teachers are common, and heard so often that their repetition is almost as annoying as the person spewing them.
Teachers have it easy; they get off work at 3pm and have summers off.
Every time I hear this one, I can’t help but laugh aloud. Easy? 3pm? Summer? HA! What Teacher Haters fail to acknowledge, is that none of those things are true. Yes, students get dismissed at 3pm, however, that is when the worst part of my job begins – grading and planning. I have spent hours of my personal time grading, planning, organizing, gathering materials and other mundane activities that I have to complete in order to do my job correctly. All teachers have to attend after-school and summer-session meetings to prepare for the school year, as well as creating lesson plans. It’s not like we just show up the first day and wing it.
Additionally, I have never been able to avoid teaching summer school. In fact, since becoming a teacher in Fall 2001, I have had several second jobs in order to be able to pay for living expenses and the amazing amount I have to spend monthly on student debt from my undergrad and teaching credential programs. In fact, tonight, after leaving working at the high school a full day, I will have a seven-hour shift at a local bar. Yes, my life is a breeze.