I've always viewed teachers as a dime a dozen.
As a single mid to late 20's AP Calculus/Physics teacher I was inevitably in various circles with 'professionals' and like anyone, would get the question - "so what do you do?"
"I'm a math teacher."
What would typically ensue at this point would be one of three things, 1) their personal horror story of how they began to hate Math, 2) how much they loved their AP Calculus teacher/class, or 3) they'd look for someone else to talk to as I was not going to make enough to warrant the type of lifestyle they wanted to live (Dallas area).
I got where I was pretty good at spotting the 3rd even before it happened and would interject the disclaimer, "hey, those who can't, teach right."
I got into teaching because my education - double major in Mathematics & Chemistry, just missed a Physics major as well - accompanied with while working on my parents hog/grain farm and catering business wasn't exactly a combination employers wanted to see when I tried to apply for jobs in industry. There were a lot of similar cases. International publications, Pre-Med students who didn't get into Medical programs, but also, people who were in teaching for the long haul. Some of those had truly mastered the science and were calculated in all they did, truly amazing to behold. I will say, I love watching even a good plumber, or anyone who's really good at their trade. So I will acknowledge that bias if you will.
Then there were those teachers who, by this poster's post, probably experienced. And for that I'm sorry. I had some pretty rough teachers too. And I understand as a youngster (pre-18) those formative years typically have emotion tied to their experience more than a person who encounters a professional of another trade in his mid to late 20's for the first time. There's way more exposure to teachers too, and much like names, it often can take just one bad/poor teacher to ruin the entire profession/experience for a person. If you're a parent, you now get doubly exposed to the possibility of a bad teacher and you will have an emotional response to your child's emotional response.
Some of those teachers are beat down by administrations and regulations that just don't make sense. From shoving kids in AP classes as 'no pass no play' doesn't apply to not holding kids accountable for grades and no child left behind - these all have wildly different affects on how a teacher can do their job, which often includes writing curriculum, grading papers, and also talking to the kids' agents, er parents. Add any of those other things where I have to write up to 5 different versions of an exam because of ridiculous learning modications, and you just took away any hope of a social life for my week. Many in America, often don't look at a teacher with much respect, we are after all what's between them and their kid going to the college they want to go to. Or for more short term, their kid playing in the Friday night football game.
Let me share a story or at least something to shed light on how teachers are looked at in America versus say South America or in the East, like China, Japan, and the like. I love Chinese food, especially buffets. The quality is a little worse, but you get more choices. So Most weekends I'd choose either a Chinese buffet, a coffee shop, or pub with some good local craft brews to do grading and write the quizzes/exams for the coming week. I got to where I found a Chinese buffet I really liked and when I'd come in there they'd see all my books and naturally, the first time, asked what I did. And though their understanding of English wasn't that great, they understood: "Teacher."
You should see the look on their faces anytime I would walk in, the whole front end of the store would often exclaim, "Teacher. Teacher. Welcome! Come! Come! You sit here. Is this alright for you?"
It was if I was some celebrity. Why, well, you see, all the servers at that Chinese buffet were actually from China, they were working here to send money back home. But in China, teacher is perhaps the most respected profession of all or at least up there with doctors, lawyers, and the like. So I don't blame anyone who looks down on a teacher as meager profession, they live in a culture that says that and unless they gain a fuller understanding of their own culture and of the world - that's a view they would probably hold, even if a teacher they had in their formative years was a horrible portrait of a teacher.
As far as the hours compared to industry, of which I am now in, I worked typically from 630AM - 5PM with a 14 min lunch break. I had one planning period which was an hour. I also had to write curriculum at my job, which often consisted of all day Sunday while watching football. Equations editor, browsing 15-20 Calculus texts for problems that won't blow the kids out of the water, yet are at an incremental level of difficulty. I got to watch football this entire time, but still, it was work. I had 140 students, and had to put at least 3 assignments into the grade book each week and no more than a 2 day turn around for minor assignments (non Exams). So I had to grade papers at least 2 days a week during the week and even if I took just 1 minute to look over a quiz it would require 140 minutes. So I had 10.5 HR days plus grading (2.25 HR, 3x week) plus 8 HR on Sunday. Then there's Exam grading which was every 3 weeks, which would typically take me around 10 hours with entering all grades into the gradebook, writing comments, partial credit, etc.
We worked 38 weeks a year at 67 HR a week, plus one exam every 3 weeks. So 12 exams at 10 HR a pop. That's 2676 hours a year. Take that over 50 weeks, it comes out to 53.5 HRs a work week.
I work 48-55 a week now in Marketing Analytics. So it's about equal.
There are exceptions, Phy Ed teachers to Golf coaches, etc - with no lesson planning and no real graduation requirements (Math, Science, English, Social Studies) have it easy provided they aren't coaching either. They also get paid almost the same. For these - life is a dream. But they aren't the norm.
Teaching is tough, I'm glad I did it. But ultimately, as USAFChief said eloquently put it, for me, the combat pay wasn't enough to go through what a teacher has to go through. Teachers put up with a lot - we get annoyed at work when a college educated mid 20's to mid 40's adult acts up - try dealing with people where NO ONE has a college degree and NO ONE is over 18. And try to reason and rationalize with them.
I would say, if anyone has a low view of a profession, they should try it for themselves. The CEO of Waste Management had his eyes opened when he went out on the ground floor. If teachers, or any profession really, could get more people to do this, they probably could get better help from administrators, government officials, parents, and the like - as to do their jobs better. We all could.
"Those who can't, teach."
Edited by twinsfan34, 29 December 2013 - 10:36 AM.