Sometimes it is hard to believe that I have now taught for 30 years. WOW! Over the years, I never imagined some teaching changes, such as Zoom, Smartboards, and YouTube. But as I look back over the 30 years, some things in teaching remain the same. As many people call for education reform, I have found 18 things that remain the same after 30 years of teaching. As you read over my list, you can be the judge of what things should continue to remain the same and what things finally need changing.
Other Jobs Teachers are Expected to Do
- Recess Duty is wonderful when it is 75 and sunny. But recess duty in the cold and wind or recess duty for an inside recess are things most teachers dread. Still, 30 years later!
- Lunch that really isn’t duty-free remains the same after 30 years. This short block of time is usually spent running (literally sometimes) to the bathroom and copy machine, scarfing down your own lunch at rapid speed, and prepping for lessons in the afternoon or later in the week. That is if you aren’t lunching with your students.
- Dismissal Time can be a well-orchestrated plan, but many times that plan goes right off the rails, even after 30 years. It only takes 1 late bus, 1 late parent, or 1 unexpected pick up to cause chaos in dismissal. Then, don’t breathe just yet because there is always a little Johnny or Shay that ‘forgot’ they needed the bathroom, left their backpack behind or suddenly needs to search for the mittens that their grandma made. Ugh, I imagine my room at dismissal daily and shudder.
Meetings and More Meetings
- Staff meetings that could have been a memo. Ok, so this one has changed slightly because teachers didn’t have email 30 years ago. But trust me, it remains the same after 30 years of teaching. Teachers sit through hours upon hours of staff meetings that could have been summarized in writing. Still, 30 years later.
- Professional Development takes away from what teachers could have accomplished in our classrooms. It often rehashes information that we already know. Many don’t apply to all teachers sitting through them. ETTC recently published a blog with teacher responses to PD that was worth sitting through. Professional Development Teachers Actually Want to Attend
Other People’s Agendas for Teachers
- People often outside of education decide what should happen in the classrooms they have never entered. Does this sound like a hot topic of 2021? It was certainly a hot topic continuously over the 30 years that I have been in my classroom.
- Unannounced observations, observations the day before or the day after a break, observations during a holiday party in your room. Teachers absorb constructive criticism and handle suggestions and evaluations fairly well but c’mon, do administrators have a secret camera in the classrooms to pick the MOST inopportune time?
- State assessments have been done every year in my classroom for 30 years. The tests may change acronyms and change standards, but every year, THERE… THEY… ARE. Why? Just, why? I am sure many of you question this annually, just like me!
- These two go hand-in-hand: paperwork overwhelms us, and we definitely lack prep time to complete said paperwork! Now 30 years ago, there was tons of work, and it was all done by hand. I am so thankful for having my laptop now! (Let’s not start on tech issues!). But, no principals have all of the time to read all of the paperwork we complete. And teachers everywhere do completely unnecessary and unread documents daily!
- Due to the lack of prep time at school, teachers work beyond school hours. This is still the same for me 30 years later. I have yet to find that perfect balance between my personal time and school. Many nights we teachers stay late. On many weekends we teachers pass up other activities to complete grading and lesson plans. As soon as we feel we have a great handle on things, we get a new kid. And new tasks. It never ends.
- But the pay is great, right? Haha! How many times have you said or heard, “teachers don’t do it for the money”? Many of my teacher friends work second jobs to pay their bills. Fortunately, my salary has improved in 30 years, but it is beyond time that teachers are compensated for all of the work they do!
- And although the money isn’t great, we spend it routinely on our students and our classrooms. I personally supplied the snacks for my kiddos for 30 years, purchased class supplies, and bought shoes, coats, socks, etc., for those students that need them. I am sure that a majority of teachers do the same. Student needs have grown over the course of 30 years, and we continue making sure they have what they need to succeed. Even if it means the money comes out of our pay.
All of the Warm
- Building relationships has always been and will always be an essential part of being an effective teacher. Building relationships with everyone, including families, students, co-workers, administrators, kitchen staff, janitorial staff, and more, has been my priority every year for the last 30 years. But building relationships with kids: oh my heart!
- Have you had parents yearly who have made your job seem so much harder? Me, too. 😢 But, school families and class families have taken flight as teachers everywhere realize that families matter in the children’s success. Every year, I work especially hard to get my families on board to feel like we are all a team. The importance of families to my class cannot be stressed by me enough.
And All the Fuzzies
- I love my teacher besties. We call ourselves the golden girls! It is reassuring that someone has my back, gives me their shoulder, and roots for me daily.
- Teachers always focus on inspiring their students to be life- long learners. In the 6th grade, my math teacher helped me to believe I could fly as long as I put in the work. I am a beyond Master’s level teacher because I enjoy taking classes and absorbing information. I want my students to love learning!
- Each school day is an adventure, with no two days being alike! I love the unpredictable things that students say and do. Students always make my day, and that has not changed in my 30 years of teaching! I embrace the unpredictable!
- And finally, teachers have always been superheroes!
As things have remained the same for the last 30 years, a lot has really changed. Me, for instance! I’ve gotten older and wiser, more confident, and more laid back. But the most important thing that hasn’t changed in the last 30 years of teaching is the kiddos. I love them just as much now as I did back then, and that is one thing that will never change!
Written by: Suzanne Kelley
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