This week one of our local news stations posted an article "exposing" what a teacher's pension was. I came across the link to the article on Facebook because one of my friends had commented on it. Like any news story that goes through Facebook, there were over 40 comments from people putting in their two cents about the article. Most were teachers saying, "Hey leave us alone for once!" Some comments were from people that were seemingly pleased that this news station "exposed" this public information, as it added fuel to the ever-burning fire that people have against teachers. As I read through the comments, I started getting angry as this person continued to bash teachers, calling us babysitters, overpaid, ungrateful and "simple". Teachers continued writing back to him, defending what we do and correcting his grammar, as to prove a point that it is ignorant people that must hate teachers or disagree with our pay scale and pensions. I attempted to write a response to this internet troll, but found myself not being able to find the right words to explain to him why he was wrong. I kept typing then erasing, editing, typing, erasing. I wanted him to so badly understand that we earn our summer vacations and pensions and incomes just as much as anybody else. My blood was boiling. I wanted to teach him a lesson (no pun intended).
Then I realized that I would be just as much of a troll as him, and I would be just as foolish or ignorant to think that I could change his mind about why teachers are important. Who am I to tell him why he is failing at life because I am angry that he insulted my life choice? What I essentially realized was, who are we to attack others for their life choices? I would love to be able to submit an expense report for every dollar I have ever spent out of my own pocket for my classroom. I would love to go out to lunch at a restaurant during the day with my coworkers. I would love to sleep until 7:30 so I would make it to work by 9. I would love to work from home. I would love to work outside in the sun. I would love to make $100,000 a year. I would love to travel and see cool cities. EVERY job has perks and EVERY job has downfalls, but EVERY person makes the choice to do what they do in life. Who are we to tell them they are undeserving of their perks? I would NEVER say to someone "Ohhh must be nice that you got reimbursed for that printer paper you bought for your office! Haha! Ungrateful secretaries." I would love to do a lot of these things but I made a choice to become a teacher and I don't need anybody to validate that choice because I know that what I do every day makes a difference in our world.
I might not put my life in danger every day or save people in an emergency room. Sure, I stayed home this entire week and watched Netflix in my pajamas. But you know what? I got peed on 3 times this year! I have a drawer full of letters from parents and students that have told me I have changed their lives forever. These are things that nobody will ever understand about teaching, but we have to stop expecting them to. We have to stop keeping score of what everyone else is doing and start appreciating that these professions that people have chosen are what make our world go 'round.
So, man who hates teachers and thinks we don't deserve our perks: my hope is that someday if you have a child, that your child is in the care of a loving teacher that will show you just how important our job is. Maybe a good teacher will even change the path of life that your child takes. Maybe a teacher did that for you and you just haven't realized it yet. Maybe you never will. But I'm sure when you are not on Facebook and you are at work, you are really good at what you do. I think your job is important and has value in our world too, whatever it may be.