By Abby Spoerl / July 18, 2017
Teaching’s NOT Cute
You are at a charity event happy hour and begin chatting with someone you are meeting for the first time:
Guest: “Where do you work?”
Me: “I’m an elementary school teacher.”
Guest: “Awwww, that is so cute. What grade do you teach?”
Me: Third grade
The “awwwing” continues…
When I was a teacher, the scene described above was an extremely common occurrence. The crazier part is even people who knew me well were condescending towards me – that I, “didn’t understand the business world,” or called me a “cute little teacher,” all because I decided to devote my time and energy into working with children and shaping their education. Hearing this on a regular basis struck such discord with me – what exactly was cute about working 60+ hour weeks, being paid very little, and constantly putting the needs of 24 students and their families before yourself? I can say with great certainty that it was the hardest (but most rewarding!) job I have ever done.
This article got me thinking about the path many teachers (me included) found themselves on as they began their careers.
“As a whole, teachers aren’t great about taking care of themselves. You work too many hours, don’t get enough sleep or exercise, eat too many unhealthy foods, and don’t spend enough time doing things that refresh and energize you.”
Sound like your life, educators? It isn’t shocking the burnout rate is 20% of new teachers leaving the profession within four years. If the job is so difficult and so worthy of praise (as all educators know), then why is it seen to others as a “cute” job? Why do people belittle the work you do? Robert Bacal poses it could be because it is a stereotype that, “schooling is familiar, we have all been in school,” therefore, “when people have a lot of experience with something, they tend to believe they are expert in that field.” It could be a variety of factors contributing to the lack of respect educators often receive but for me, the key takeaway is that educators should be respected, appreciated, and commended for the work they are doing.
I felt it was important to write this blog to acknowledge the grueling work of educators. In my work now with clients, I feel that my understanding of the life of an educator motivates me to do more for my clients and am constantly vigilant of the demands of their profession as well as the challenges they face every day. As an employee of a smart data company that aims to lessen the burden on educators and the multitude of demands on their time, my hope is that edtech helps change the conversation in a way that truly respects the intellectualism, dedication, and professionalism of an educator.
I thank you for your constant dedication to the profession I hold in highest esteem. Your job isn’t cute and the work you put into it makes you resilient, driven, dedicated, selfless, and admirable. Thank you!