Why did you become a teacher?

It took a couple of months but I’m gainfully employed again.
A middle school gig this time.

Yes, I know.

All middle school kids are psychopaths.
Who in their right mind would teach that level?
Well…me, I guess.
But then, I’ve never taken the conventional path in life.

Middle school kids can be difficult to teach.
Don’t try to bullshit them.
Never show them any fear or they’ll eat you alive.
Make them laugh.
Tell a joke.
Sing a song.
Whatever you do, just don’t be boring.

They love to ask me,
“Why did you become a teacher?”
I never really know how to answer that properly.
So I usually say,
“Because I just love being abused by young people.”
And that makes them laugh.

The real answer is complicated.
At first I didn’t know what else to do.
Didn’t know what I was good at.
So I decided to try teaching.
It turns out I’m a natural born teacher.
The kids can tell that I love doing it.

Losing my previous teaching gig,
Was so painful and traumatic,
I seriously thought about getting out of it.
But I just can’t imagine doing anything else.
I’ll always be a teacher.

I’ll be a teacher until being a teacher,
Is no longer any fun.

I have an off switch

I saw you on the bus, they say
As if they are surprised
To see me anywhere but school.

That’s where all the teachers
Are kept, you see.

After all the students leave
The caretakers shut us down
And lock us in a storage closet.

But being human and lazy
They sometimes send us on errands

Like to the supermarket.
So you might be taken by surprise
To see a teacher buying food

But we’re merely buying it
For a human caretaker

Operating us by remote control.
Everyone knows that teachers
Do not eat food.

Nor do we engage in any
Normal human behaviors

Such as sleeping, drinking, smoking,
Or having sexual intercourse.
And of course, being robots

We don’t have any real feelings
So feel free to be as cruel

As you like.

Not to belabor the point but…

I wrote this as a response all the unenlightened comments on this photograph posted on the Occupy New Brunswick page on Facebook.

I’m sure he saved as much as he could (as he mentioned) but, being a teacher making crap wages, it wasn’t nearly enough. Don’t worry, though. Teachers are used to taking abuse from everyone. We’re used to being held accountable for bad grades and never thanked or appreciated for good ones. We’re used to hearing about how our jobs are “easy” and how overpaid we are because we get summer and Christmas vacations off. We’re used to being hated by students, criticized by their parents and undervalued by everyone.

We’re used to it but we do our jobs anyway.

We stand up in front of a room full of distracted kids and somehow manage to engage their increasingly elusive interest for a few minutes. We ignore the eye rolling and the clock watching and get on with our jobs.

I work as a high school English teacher in Sweden. Maybe conditions are different here but I normally start work before eight in the morning and finish after five. Working ten or twelve hour days is a frequent occurance. A minor percentage of our working day is spent actually teaching. The rest of the time we spend in meetings, marking essays and making lesson plans. The students get week-long breaks in fall, winter and spring, but I (and the rest of my colleagues) work during all of those. I get a few days off around Christmas, and I get the standard amount of time off during the summer to which all Swedish workers are entitled by the government.

Yeah, I’m stressed out and tired. I’m exhaused. But I cannot let my students down. They are the reasons I get up in the morning and go to work everyday. I do my job for them.

I’m a teacher. That’s what I do and I’ve never wanted to do anything else.