There is always a lot of teacher-bashing and, as a teacher, I take it personally.
Most of the bashing revolves around too much pay and too much time off. Then, even with these benefits, some people say, teachers still whine about things like not getting enough sick days or having large class sizes.
Being a substitute teacher, I don’t always have the same grievances as contract teachers. For example, I do not get paid for taking a sick day. When I’m sick, I just don’t make myself available to go into a school. I stay home and I don’t get paid. Situation closed.
But I agree with many of the concerns that contract teachers have. Class sizes are too big. Having been in a classroom, I know that I often cannot interact with some students, usually the quiet ones who get overlooked because they pose no discipline problems.
Interestingly, I never hear the teacher-bashers complain about such sports figures as hockey players. I admit that teachers make too much money but if one were to put them on a pay scale, I believe they should make more money than hockey players.
I enjoy watching hockey games and I do believe that the players bring entertainment to the public and so, yes, they should get paid as entertainers. But paid more than teachers? I think not.
If one were to compare teachers and hockey players, the teacher-bashers’ opinions might be humbled.
The best teachers never get million-dollar contracts. Even mediocre players receive more money than the excellent teachers. Even the enforcers, those paid to fight, get paid more than teachers.
The moment I decide to fight another teacher or, God forbid, a student, I lose my job.
Yes, contract teachers in elementary and secondary schools end up working less than 200 days a year. However, hockey players, when they’re healthy, work less than 90 days a year.
One could argue that players put in time to practice but so do teachers: marking papers on weekends, taking additional qualification courses, attending workshops on non-teaching days.
Some complain that teachers work 6-hour days: 9-3. I’ve had the opportunity to observe that many of the best teachers show up an hour before the students start classes and often go home an hour after students have departed for the day. They use this extra time to mark, phone parents, decorate bulletin boards, prepare lessons.
In a hockey game, meanwhile, even the best players play half an hour at the most. And sometimes, they play poorly.
I’m not trying to be blatantly facetious here. I know that weak teachers do exist and that some teachers show up at school just as the kids come to class or go home the minute the kids have left for home. But these are in a minority. Plus, some teachers do have families to tend to.
Teachers sometimes get lazy and sometimes, on bad days, do not show their best efforts.
But neither do hockey players.
Hockey players, when performing poorly, have thousands of fans screaming or booing at them. Teachers may not face this calamity but we do have to confront often-demanding, often-needy students. Sometimes, we’re even told that we suck or we’re told to shut up. And that happens even when we’re teaching well.
I could go on comparing teachers to hockey players but I’ll end on this note: hockey players get the summers off, too.