My daughter is a first year 5th grade math teacher. It is not unusual for her to call me and be upset. In fact, at the end of most of her days she cries. She teaches at a school in a neighborhood that most of us would never go in. Ninety kids move through her room in the course of a day. Ninety kids.
She has not quit. Yet.
The toll this year has taken on her can't be measured. At the end, about the best you'll be able to say is that she survived and that's not a stellar way to start a career. To watch her struggle like this is a daily kick in my gut as all I can offer is a sympathetic ear and that's not much help.
She has a school phone and her students can call her until 9:00 p.m. for homework help. They call her thru the nite and I have listened many times to her talk to them. She walks them through the problem and helps them make sense of it. She praises them when they figure it out. She tells them how proud she was of their class behavior or that she expects better the next day. She never loses patience with them even when she's been at it for more than twelve hours.
She's exhausted. She's frustrated. She's burnt out.
In light of the events in Wisconsin, it has become popular among some people to criticize teachers, their easy schedule, the union who protects them and the perception that they're breaking the bank with their salaries and pensions. How many of us spend our days motivating and teaching a group of people whose various personal issues include ADD, ADHD, autism, biopolar disorder, asperger's, anger control and emotional disorders, sleep deprivation or hunger? Times ninety.
There's a reason teachers have the summer off. If they didn't they'd likely never return to do it all over again.