Schooling You on Why I Teach

24 Oct

I have been sick.  This afternoon I needed to stimulate my brain, so I blogged surfed for a bit.  I found an interesting blog based on a story about a teacher “grade-in” that was broken up by the police.  Teacher grade-ins are peaceful demonstrations in which teachers gather in public places and, well, grade.  They work on the grading that they would normal do at home.

I know what you are thinking…why?

The point, or one main point among others, is to open the eyes to people the amount of work that teachers do on their “own time.”  I put that in quotes because, as a teacher, I know that my “own time” is seldom my own.  I have to juggle the massive amounts of planning, grading, professional development, preparation, and even shopping (for demonstration materials…I am a science teacher) with my family, home chores, friends, church, and the rest of life.  There isn’t much “own time” left.

Oh, so you are one of those complaining-type teachers, Mr. OneCupofJoe guy, huh?

No, I just said that because I understand where these teachers are coming from.  I don’t think that a lot of people understand what teachers do.  We balance all of what I said along with trying how to differentiate between each learner we teach, help low-achieving students achieve higher goals, help high-achieving students be challenged and not lazy, staying in contact with parents, meeting the expectations of administrators, working with students with behavior issues, not neglecting the non-behavior issue students, studying our content at a deeper level, trying to keep up with current educational and brain research, and the thousand other things I left out.  Teaching is actually a profession.  Not a lesser calling.  Not, quite frankly, a career for the weak.

I thought you said you were going to complain, Complainy McComplainerson.

Still not, just relating to my grade-in teaching educational brothers and sisters.  Their goal is to help the public see a little of the “teaching life.”  I understand that.  Especially in a world where regulations come down from non-educators and where choices are made by people only looking at what it “costs” to educate.  Also, we teachers are surrounded by people who like to joke about the hours and vacations (to that my reply is always…”They aren’t vacations…it’s comp. time).  Anyway, I understand where these teachers are coming from.

On the otherside of the “grade-ins” is the politics of spending cuts and cries for higher wages.  Okay, I am SO not getting in to the politics of this…I do agree that money is being wasted, but it is not on the teachers.  I think that the educational system needs a major audit.  I am in a right-to-work state, so we do not have unions.  I am not sure on my feelings on teachers unions, but I am pretty sure they are not the answer.  Real reform is the answer, but that is another blog for another day.

The reason for writing this is because as I read and thought about the grade-in that was broken up by the police in New York (see link in first paragraph), I had to ask myself what I thought about the grade-in “movement” (there have been several of these to pop up across the country).  Would I take part or even consider orchestrating one of these in my city?  The thought did cross my mind…but why?

That led me to the question of why I teach.  Why do I teach?  I definitely feel like I was called to teach.  God put the desire on my heart, and he opened up a vast series of doors as I pursued it.  But it is more than that…I know have a passion about education, namely educating in the situation I teach in (I teach in a Title I school…click the link to learn what that means).  Today, though the doctor said I was too sick to go to school today, I missed my students.  I missed teaching today and wished I felt better and was doing what I do.  I am a teacher…and proud!

I don’t teach for the money (what money 🙂  ).  I don’t teach for the “hours.”  I don’t teach for the vactions.  I don’t teach so you can think of me as saintly for dealing with what I have to deal with.  I don’t teach for you to feel bad for me for the time contraints.  I don’t teach for you wish teachers made more.  I don’t teach to show off how much I have to do.  I don’t teach for you.  I don’t teach for me (I would have burned out a long time ago if this were true).  I teach for my students.  I teach as a steward of the gifts and talents the God gave me.  I teach because God called us to love others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

I teach as a gift of love and practice of faith.  My faith has been grown and stregthened because teaching isn’t easy, espeically where I teach.  I teach because God has given me gifts and talents to use to serve others.  This is what I am doing.  I am trying to live out the Gospel with my life.  I teach because I can’t do it on my own.  I teach as an act of sacrafice.  I offer the little I have and allow to God use it as he will.  In my case it is mostly for the sake of educating students who need a leg up…but who knows what the seeds of love and service can produce.

I don’t think I would attend a “grade-in.”  This is a private act of service and sacrafice between God and I.  I don’t need you to feel bad.

PS…If you do want to help me “do what I do”…please check out my Donor’s Choose projects and think about donating.  Everything little or big helps.  Both of them have about two weeks left…and they are both being doubled.  Please think about helping.  Project oneProject two.

Performancing Metrics


Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Faith and Life, Teaching


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Schooling You on Why I Teach

  1. pstok

    October 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    An encouraging message. Fighting preconceptions of what means to be a teacher and why we teach is a tough one. I find that communication with parents on an ongoing basis is one way to keep them on side. I noticed the Ugandan promo on your page. We as a School/teachers support a school and its students in Uganda. It is amazing how much our money can do.

    • ragamuffinjoe

      October 27, 2011 at 5:55 am

      That is so true. Communication is key. I can be bad at it…getting so caught up in the other things that I have to do. That is awesome about your school’s support of a school in Uganda. There is so much need there because of the LRA movement’s hand of terror on the people.

  2. Ula

    November 2, 2011 at 6:20 am

    My husband’s a teacher, so I can understand the inordinate amount of work that goes with it and the lack of “me time.” I’ve never heard of “grade-ins” being done here in South Africa and it was really interesting to read about them. Thanks for the post 🙂


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