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Monday, June 1, 2015

Teaching Is NOT a "Cute" Profession

This weekend I met someone new, who asked about my job. When I said elementary teacher, her response?


Don’t get me wrong, there are ‘cute’ aspects of my job. Kids say funny things. Kids can be adorable. I get to read cute books and make cute things occasionally.

But that response drives me CRAZY.

Teaching, as a profession, is seen as a nice job. You must be a kind, caring person with a good heart. And I absolutely agree with that.

What most people don’t seem to realize is that it’s also an extremely difficult job.

I’m a manager of 29 very different personalities- except I don’t get to ‘hire’ the best qualified for the job, and I can’t fire them if they’re not doing it.

I’m a diagnostician, constantly digging deeper into assessments and observations to determine exactly why a student doesn’t understand, and then determining an appropriate treatment plan, like a doctor treating a disease.

I work with concepts that seem very simple decades after one has learned them, but are actually very difficult at first. I explain them in a way that makes sense and allows all other learning to build upon it. What is easy to do is not always easy to teach. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve met with advanced college degrees who know their field well, but can’t explain the simplest concepts in a way others will understand- and I do it daily.

We take on so many roles in the course of our day- and while caring for the kids and showing them love is a vital part of the job, we need much more than a sweet heart to do this job.

We need intelligence and creativity. We need education and training. We need passion and perseverance. And when we do our jobs well, we have the power to change our students' lives very directly- teachers are the biggest determinant of student success.

A recent study showed that an excellent kindergarten teacher's students in a single class will go on to earn approximately $320,000 more than their counterparts in other classes.

And the world still thinks we’re babysitters.

For one- even babysitting would not be easy. Entertaining 20-30 small children for any length of time is no small feat. (For many adults, even entertaining 2-3 is tough!)

And for another- we’re not just expected to occupy their time. We don’t just color or fingerpaint. Naptime is nearly completely gone from the elementary world. Movies are usually a very rare thing- because we are actually there to make sure they learn something. A lot of things, actually.

The very foundations of most things you do on a daily basis.

So, when you think of teachers… please don’t awww.

This isn’t a “cute” job. It isn’t a “nice” job. It absolutely, positively isn’t an “easy” job.

I am smart.
I am well educated.
I am a professional.
I work my tail off.
And I love teaching, but I deserve to not just be appreciated for the heart it takes, but also respected for the brain it takes.

And so do all teachers.


I believe, as teachers, we need to make the world more aware of the WORK we do. Not to be lauded with accomplishments, but to gain respect as professionals. Read my next post and join me in correcting one of the misconceptions that annoys me most!  : )

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  1. Thanks for this! I hate the "awww" too! Can't wait to see what you have planned for tomorrow.

    School and the City

  2. Such a great post and SOOO true.

  3. Love this! I've even gotten the "awwww, they're so cute!" from upper grade teachers in my building- they are much more than just "cute." They are capable, frustrating, hilarious, hard working, kind, and creative human beings!

    Mrs. Garcia's Super Scholars

  4. Thanks for putting this into words! I never know quite what to say when I get the "aww" ... :P

  5. Amen! So well said, Jenny! Sharing with all my teacher friends...
    First Grade Bangs

  6. Wow! You are so right! It's even worse when they tell me I look like a teacher. Huh?! Thanks for sharing!

    Reading Toward the Stars

  7. I teach elementary music and everyone, including so much of the staff, parents, sometimes admin. think it's cute, fun and just a bunch of singing and playing. I agree with you; it can be fun and cute and we DO sing (5% of the time) and play instruments, etc. but I manage OVER 500 students. I ALSO am a diagnostian and must give assessments, track their progress, and yes, grade papers for 6 grade levels! It IS a difficult job and so many "classroom" teachers (as if I don't have a classroom?) think that I (bold) am babysitting and that their job is so much more important and challenging than MY job. I wish more teachers would respect what music (and fine art) educators do as it is also an "equal" to other subject content. I'd like to say that our jobs are equally important, contribute to successful life long learners and are full of strong content that is not 'fluff'. And yes, I do love my job. Great blog post!

  8. Excellent. You said it and it is the truth. Love this post!

  9. Great Job! I wonder if the AAWWW was because, the person did NOT know what to say to you.....Like "summer vacation," etc.........

  10. So true! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!

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