“If a doctor, lawyer or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.” – Donald D. Quinn
In a previous blog I referenced a quote from Matt Damon, praising the influence that teachers had on his life, and took exception with the criticism that is directed way to often at teachers. When I came across this quote, it reminded me of a comment that I hear from a lot of non-teachers about our profession: “I couldn’t do the job that you do!” I am sure that many of our doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, and businessmen would be very frustrated if they actually faced the scenario above, yet day after day, our teachers do. No, we don’t have many classes at North Fayette with 40 kids in a class, but substitute 25 or 30, and I don’t think it would make a lot of difference in the dentist’s office!
What a lot of people are not aware of is the short amount of time that teachers actually have to do everything that is being asked of them. In fact, it is impossible. Between teaching class, grading work, meeting with students before and after school, attending faculty meetings, serving on committees, engaging in professional development, contacting parents, leading extracurricular activities, and working to implement the Iowa Core curriculum, what more can be asked? Did I mention having a personal life?
Okay, okay, okay. This isn’t a whine. It is a reality and I have a solution. We need more time. For years there has been conversation about extending the school year. I am all for that. Add twenty days of instruction and ten days for teachers to work. Let’s get innovative with our calendars and figure out ways to keep interruptions to a minimum and place a high value on instruction time. We need to be very protective of school time and the community has to understand that some of the things we do cannot be done during school time. We won’t have to have early dismissals for professional development if we have periodic full days for teachers to work.
I have a lot of faith in the abilities of our teachers. They work very hard and are committed to doing the best job they can. A lot has been thrown at them in recent years and they keep plugging away. There is talk about more pay, but they don’t do it for the money. Yes, if we have longer years, they will have to get paid more. But, I believe it is an investment that is worth it. American kids go to school less than those in other countries. We can do better if we would just give everyone a little more time.