Teacher Sacrifices vs Sacrificing Teachers

This is a snip from an article in my “library,” and was written by a non-teacher lucky enough to have a teacher-spouse. It struck a chord with me, because I wonder sometimes how my wife feels about the time I spend at school, the amount of work I bring home from school, and the amount of physical, emotional, and financial investments I make in the district that employs me-and just to the profession, period. Am I the only one that does all that? I know I’m not, and when I read this guy-it just reaffirms what I know about the career I chose. And it just reminds me that I must be crazy. Is it just me that goes on vacation, and finds myself either spotting or searching for something to use in my classroom? I’d bet that is more like the rule than the exception. Teaching can be an all-in profession and often there are loved ones at home that have to put up with that. Even when I am at home, I might feel spent already-running a little low on the patience tanks for my own children.
So here is a quote from this husband-of-a-teacher that gets what working those long hours can do:
In my twenties I bought into that myth. It was not rare for me to work 60 and 70 hour weeks. It was a life that gave the appearance of fulfilling but was very one dimensional You see, when you work those kinds of hours you don’t do anything else. You don’t interact with friends and family. You don’t travel. You don’t read books and you don’t play music. Its go to work, eat, sleep and prepare to go to work. Work has got such a hold on you that even when your body is not at work, your mind remains. (from Dad Gone Wild)
I can tell you that 60 to 70 hours a week is not out of the ordinary for teachers, and much of that is likely spent working at home while you try to split attention between the stuff a career is dedicated to , and the home and family a life is dedicated to. This kind of time isn’t just invested by fresh young teachers in their twenties full of energy and eager to dive in, but also by experienced teachers in their thirties, forties and older-with many years behind them. Teachers with families, obligations and interests outside of their jobs are sacrificing all of those to satisfy the call for “accountability” and “college and career ready” from policymakers that know darn well that careers are dwindling and the most “collegey” thing out there is massive student loan debt.
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Experienced teachers still have to suffer the inane nonsense-criticisms about banker’s hours and summers off…and still put in time on top of work to coach, organize clubs, and do everything they can to provide a safe place to learn-and often for some of the most difficult and dangerous kids. Kids that likely won’t get the supplies, materials and services they need if in a school lacking the necessary staffing and/or funds. Kids that often aren’t as welcomed into the awesome “public” charter choices being lauded and loosely regulated/monitored by policymakers and education officials.
“Dad Gone Wild” writes later on in that blog entry:
I prefer a school that puts as much stock in the unmeasurable and prepares kids for life. That means introducing children to things that give life depth, be it the arts, athletics, industrial arts, literature or any of the other things we can’t measure. I believe in schools that celebrate the effort as much as the excellence.
Well said, Dad. One of the issues we will need to contend with in creating these better approaches is confronting this age of increased scrutiny of and pressure on teachers. We need to respect them for the sacrifices they commit to, for what they do, and for the role we need them to play. We don’t wan’t to sacrifice the teacher in pursuit of misguided education reform.

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