Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A teacher and a tie

"I don't trust a teacher in a tie."

This was spoken in my direction from a fellow teacher as I was leaving my school recently. My quick response was, "I know, right? So, untrustworthy." This teacher was walking ahead of me and continued by saying, "I at least recognize you, so it's not your first year." It's at this point that I realized this person was suggesting that I was only in a shirt and tie because I was new to the school. I could feel the resentment to my newness. So, I hit my teaching peer back with, "no, it's my second year here, but my 11th year teaching."

As expected my teaching comrade spun around with a distasteful look, and said, "oh, so you're going to be an admin then, huh?" The disgust and judgement oozed off of every syllable of the question. I answered, "possibly." The reply was, "figures." And that was the extent of the conversation.

When I got to my car I laughed. Having just finished reading this blog post written by a veteran teacher calling out other long time teachers for their lack of leadership, and overall negative approach to the teaching profession, I realized I had just experienced this veteran teacher angst first hand. Sure it stung a little, but I totally get it. Teaching is just f#@$ing hard. I know to the outside world it doesn't look like it is, but when you do it right, it's exhausting to put so much passion and effort into teaching 100+ kiddos a day. Sure we get summers off, and nice holiday breaks, but after 20 years, it takes it's toll.

So then to watch the world around you change, and the social perception of educators change, it has to be so hard to wake up bounding out the door to work with kids that simply need you to motivate them to learn. It becomes easy to cash it in, and just start making it through year to year. You pick your top yearly lessons and hang your hat on the popularity of that single moment in the year. You adjust how it's written to meet the newest content standards that have been passed down to you.

Then you watch as the next crop of young teachers step in with tons of energy, enthusiasm, and "strategies." It's just hard. I totally get it. I'm 11 years into the profession, and I've tried leaving multiple times. I've interviewed for business positions trying to dust off my marketing degree. I'm tired too, but for me I always get called back to wanting to be in the classroom. It totally helps that I'm new to this school, and that over my 11 years teaching I've been in 3 different schools. I've mixed things up, and not allowed my career to be stagnant. My guess is that many of these "grumpy" veteran teachers have been in the same classroom for over 10 years! They need a change, and summers just don't cut it. They need a new class to teach, or a new school, or a new set of responsibilities. Sure that puts more on admins to recognize when a teacher needs that jump start, but it's super necessary.

Because the alternative, is a bunch of veteran teachers picking on people wearing ties.. and that's not cool! My mom gave me that tie! And I look damn good in it! I've been wearing a shirt and tie to teach for all of my years in the profession. I know that most teachers don't, but for me I see it as another way that I demonstrate to my students how seriously I take my job. I want them to know that dressing professionally isn't just for business folk, and that being a professional is something that you can display in looking nice for work.... and my MOM gave it to me! It's a nice tie!

Have you been "bullied" by a grumpy veteran teacher? Tell me about it in the comments below. And what do you think, is the veteran teacher angst just exhaustion from working a tough job for so long?