In this commentary, high-school literacy coach Julie Conlon writes about her New Year’s resolution to promote and publicize the joys and benefits of teaching.
While it can be easy for teachers to give into the public perception of teachers, Conlon said she is making it her mission to tell her story. “Unfortunately, the negative stereotypes of teachers as professionals will prevail until we convince others that our job is about a lot more than low pay and summers off,” she writes.
Last month, I joined a friend for dinner and drinks after her Chamber of Commerce “Wednesday Friendsday.” Sitting at the martini bar amidst real estate agents and financial advisors, all of whom were strangers to me prior to that evening, I found myself continually excluded from the conversation. When they found out I was a high school English teacher, they realized I had nothing to offer them—no contacts, no business, no money. All they had for me were sympathetic shakes of their heads and a few patronizing quips.
“Not a lot of money in that.”
“Ninth grade? I remember what I was like in 9th grade.”
“I don’t know how you do it. You’re a much better person than me.”
I found myself making excuses and jokes. “It’s nice to have my summers off. Why do you think I’m at a bar on a school night? When it comes to 9th grade boys, it’s not me you should feel sorry for, it’s the girls in my classes; At least I’ve learned to laugh at the boys’ antics. The girls are still crying—and will be for the next 10 years.”
All the while, I was thinking to myself, I may not get paid as much as you guys, but at least I don’t have to put up with the fake smiles, half-hearted handshakes, and bar tabs of people I really don’t like.
CONTINUE READING: Education Week Teacher