Saturday, October 27, 2012

Everything One Needs to Know About Teaching

The 2012-2013 school year is my thirty-fifth year of working in the teaching profession. I have taught second, fourth, fifth and sixth grade. I have taught self-contained learning disabilities, resource special education, basic English Language Learners and mainstream classes. I have even spent eight years of my career teaching teachers. Throughout my career I have come across things about teaching that will never change:

Nobody Believes Teaching is a Real Job

Unfortunately, many think that teachers go to work at 8:00 and leave at 3:00. Many also think we get too many holidays and summers off. Throughout my thirty-five years of teaching, I have learned not to try and change the minds of imbeciles.

I have never worked less than ten-hour days and that doesn’t include the work I do at home in the evenings and on the weekends. Imbeciles don’t understand that most teachers work through their breaks and their summers and generally don't get paid for it.

The imbeciles that don’t believe that teaching is a real profession couldn’t begin to write lesson plans, read and answer emails, teach intervention, stand recess duty, serve 35 students breakfast, get the recyclable breakfast items to the recycle bin in the back parking lot, collect homework, collect book order money, collect field trip money, collect library books, check agendas, check reading logs, take attendance, council a student through a poor choice, answer forty-five questions about forty-five different topics and help the substitute next door prepare for a day without lesson plans– all before 8:00 a.m.!

Kids Will Be Kids

I am always asked how much kids have changed over the years. My answer is always the same, they haven’t. Kids are kids. They need structure. They need discipline. They need love.

Kids need and want a routine. They want to know exactly what time math is going to happen. They want to know exactly what time lunch is going to happen. They will have a hissy fit, if one strays from that routine.

Kids want to know the rules and they want to follow them. They need consequences for their behavior good and bad. If they know the rules and know that one will give out the consequences equally and fairly every time, they will follow them. Kids are lost without discipline.

Just love them. Laugh at their silly redundant April Fools jokes. Take a deep breath when they act like kids. Let them know they are cared about. Remember loving them doesn’t mean giving them anything they want and letting them do anything they want.

7 Weeks

It takes 45 days to make a habit so it takes 7 weeks for kids to catch on to a new routine. I learned this from my friend, Colleen, that I team-taught with for many years. Each year when we started with a new group of kids, I would get so frustrated that they weren’t getting “it” (everything I wanted them to do in the classroom and at home that involved learning) in the first two weeks. Colleen would always be the calm one and say, “Cathy, you know it takes 7 weeks. It takes 7 weeks for them to know that you are serious about following rules, doing their homework, understanding classroom routines. 7 weeks!”

So, every year after that, we would look at each other on the first day of school and repeat our mantra, “7 weeks, 7 weeks, 7 weeks.”

After Colleen moved out of state and we would talk about are beginning of the year frustrations, we would both say at the same time, “7 weeks, 7 weeks, 7 weeks.”

Colleen recently moved back to sunny Arizona and is teaching at Tomahawk again, unfortunately, not at the same grade level as I. This year she has a tough class. One day she peaked in my room while I was teaching and she had a defeated look on her face and at the same time we both said, “7 weeks.”

Lice Will Find Their Way to Any Classroom

One might think this is a silly thing to know, but if one teaches one will meet these evil parasitic creatures. No matter where one teaches, no matter who one teaches one will come in contact with lice. Trust me when I say this.

This Too Shall Pass

When a new way to improve the educational system comes down the pike, I always laugh because I know this too shall pass. When the baby teachers whine about the “new” system, I just shrug my shoulders, go in my room, close the door and teach. Throughout my thirty-five years of teaching I have seen a lot of “new” curriculum that was going to save the teaching profession: TERC Math, Math Their Way, Everyday Math, Singapore Math, Excel Math, Math-U-See not to mention all the reading curriculum. I know that about every five years the math, reading, science and social studies curriculum will change. I have never seen one all encompassing program in any subject area. I have always just taken what I think will work with my students at the time and integrate it into what I already do.

Along with curriculum changing every five years so goes administration. I tried to think back and count all the different administrators I have had and I couldn’t remember them all. That might be because I am old or I have had many administrators. When fellow teachers complain about the school administration, I just shrug my shoulders, go in my room, close the door and teach. This too shall pass.

How Tight One’s Pants Are Will Affect One’s Mood for the Entire Day

Many wonder why teachers don’t dress professionally. “If teachers dressed more professionally, they would be taken more seriously.” First, teachers don’t have the bank account for high-end suits. If one can’t get it at Target, Wal-Mart or Ross, one isn’t wearing it. Secondly, it is strategically impossible to sit in a primary-sized chair or on the floor and get up with any dignity left in a pencil skirt, silk blouse and six-inch heels. Thirdly, dress pants are too tight. One cannot wear tight waistbands and work with children because how tight one’s pants are will affect one’s mood for the entire day. Someone could die.

A Teacher Will Never Be Rich

I have spent the last thirty-five years living from paycheck to paycheck. I am sure that it is my fault. When I signed my first teaching contract I signed for $8,900. That was not my monthly salary. That was my yearly salary. To top off the poor pay most of a teacher’s salary goes back into the classroom.

When I signed my contract, I knew I was never going to be rich, monetarily. I am rich in so many other ways. My students pay me in so many different ways. I drive to school everyday excited about my job. I hate days off. Throughout my thirty-five years of teaching I have had one bad year, only one! (That was the year I had the female Mafia in my room, but that’s another blog.) I love all my students even the one’s I want to strangle. I can’t imagine a life without wondering how much it is going to cost me to make sure every student is organized and ready to learn. I can’t imagine a life without the frustration of waiting for payday. I can’t imagine a life without being surrounded by students.

Paco’s Perspective

Everything You Need to Know About Being a Chihuahua

Twirl Only to the Left

Don’t try twirling the opposite direction. It doesn’t work.

Cute Counts

Sitting up and pawing will get a dog anything a dog wants. Remember to use the puppy-dog eyes.

The Flip Side

Everything You Need to Know About Lizard Chasing

They’re Tricky


  1. How did I miss this one? I want to hear about the female mafia year! :)