As a teacher, this is the most frustrating part of the year. For us, last day of school is May 21 (yes, a Monday, don't ask), so we have a week and a half left of term. To illustrate how frustrating the last few weeks are, today durning 3rd period four students from 1st period (an academy class) who are failing came in to beg me to let them make up work so they can pass this required class. We'll do anything they said, anything.
Well, where were you six weeks ago when I warned you that you were failing? Where were you at midterm when you were failing? Where were you when the project was due and you didn't turn it in? Where were you all the times you had homework and didn't turn it in? Where are all those assignments that I planned, copied, taught, collected, and graded, yet you left on the floor?
Teachers bear the brunt of a lot of criticism, especially from conservatives, which is unfortunate. People who are not teachers seem to think that if we did a better job, our students would learn better, but that isn't even close to the truth. We all spend a lot of time improving and refining our lessons to the nth degree. We don't have any choice to buy into the latest acronym that is supposed to improve student achievement and narrow the achievement gap. We spend hours outside our contract time to be there for our students--one year I kept track of all the extra hours and they added up to more than my contracted hours. This is not at all unusual.
And yet at the end of term we get failing students who beg to pass as if it's a gift we just give out at whim instead of something that's earned. It's insane. And it's so very very frustrating. I typically have 40% or more of my science class fail, and it's not because I'm a poor teacher or that I don't care. Maybe I am lucky to work at an amazing school, but I don't know many poor teachers. In our district they don't pass probation. We ALL work hard to teach other people's kids. And we do it with passion and love and dedication, we really do.
So to those who tell us we're doing a crappy job, that the failure of our students is our fault, we have too much time off and get paid too much, I cordially invite them to make a career change and become a teacher. If those people think the educational system needs to change, throwing mud at it from the outside's not going to do it, they need to be in it to make it better. I'm all for home schooling and private and charter and online and vouchers and open enrollment and magnets and whatever options parents want for their children, but let's face it--we'll still need outstanding public schools. So come on down and make it your own, do it right.
Besides, since it's so easy and you get paid so well and get so much vacation, anyone would WANT to be a teacher, right?