I am an elementary teacher who loves her job! It is the most rewarding, exciting and unpredictable work anyone could ask for. I have 26 (yes, 26) second graders whom I love and care for during the day. We work hard together learning, laughing and trying to get along with each other, as we are all so different. Part of this classroom community is the wonderful, supportive parents who work hard helping me with cutting, pasting, copying and working with individual students on computer projects etc. (I don't know what I'd do without them)!
And that's what classroom communities do. As my students' teacher, I work very hard at helping them learn what is needed to become productive, inquisitive members of our community. This takes time and effort on my part which, of course, is my job.
However, I am finding it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find the time during my workday to meet the needs of all the students in my classroom. I know that I speak for not just myself, but for all elementary teachers as well when I say that we are continually being asked to do more and more with less and less time. We are asked to meet before and after our regular hours for meetings about children, families in crisis, professional growth, etc. On top of all this, we now fall under the No Child Left Behind requirements and are preparing kids for high-stakes testing! We are having to do more of our work and planning at home, or spend more of our family time at school on weekends to create individually adapted lessons that students can truly enjoy and learn from at their level.
In my classroom, I have five different reading groups, math, writing, science, social studies, spelling, health, language and social manners to plan for every day. I have some prep time, but this is not on a daily basis and it is not nearly enough. Elementary teachers have seven-plus subjects to plan and prepare for. Many other teachers have one or two subjects to plan and prep to teach. Where is the equality? I spend from eight to 10 hours a week on my own time, without pay, to get my job done and to meet the needs of my students. I don't know of any other employer who would ask this of their employee except the school district.
As our new school board members prepare to take their seats, I hope that they give thought to what teachers mean to this community. Please think about what you are asking us to do and, above all else, ask yourselves: Are the teachers in our school district being treated fairly and equitably?