They get no R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rodney Dangerfield made a career out of claiming that he got no respect. He is not the only one.

The great profession of being a teacher gets no respect.

It is back to school time and once again the chalk is flying and the smell of Elmer’s glue is floating in the air in the classrooms of America.

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Do these good folks deserve our respect? Did they not know what they were signing up for when they chose to go into teaching?

They take on the mountainous task of inserting knowledge into the heads of our children. Yikes. What the rest of us cannot or would not do, they do. Teachers get no respect.

Many jobs require physical stamina and deal with high stress that can claim degrees of difficulty, but the importance of dealing with our children can change the world. When you are asked, who made a difference for you, who were your role models, besides a parent many would chose one of their teachers.

The teachers of the world do not strive to build great mansions, drive fancy cars or wear Manola Blahnik shoes. They could not on their pay scale, but a true teacher embraces the call to take the average youth and fill their brain cells with data. How many of you would like to try that? How would you like to be in a room with 30 busy seven years olds? For the whole day? Every weekday? For nine months!

Earlier in my life, I tried to be a substitute teacher. Talk about no respect! Try subbing! To say I was really bad at it is like saying Hurricane Katrina was a puff of wind. At one point, in a seventh grade class as I tried to control the mania, three boys jumped out the window and ran around the building and came back in. Gummie bears were burned in the furnace! No one listened to me! You could not pay me enough to go back! Unless it’s on a reality TV show and I might win a million dollars. Survivor of the classroom!

To put teachers into perspective, you must go back to your school days when you sat at your desk either fearing one or trying to impress one. We put them on pedestals in elementary but knocked them off by high school. Teachers get no respect.

I had some interesting characters as teachers, those who made you dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the T’s’ and one who allowed smoking and drinking in class.

In Fergies’s first years at PRC teaching Psychology, we lost the mice in the maze but never fear they made it to the lunch room and probably bred with their mice.

Wonderful math was both fun and intimidating in Mr. Voss’s class, and no one can forget the bright smile of Mrs. Howard when you gave her a compliment, in which Brent Moeller was the best.

Without a doubt, my favorite teacher would have to be Sarah Hill in the fifth grade. She was not only caring, but also very creative. She encouraged me to write. She gave me confidence to do so. She read scripture to us every morning, can you imagine how shocking that is now!

These are different times bringing different kind of kids. The age of innocence has left the school buildings. Children have lost their manners and respect. They have more knowledge of the world and how it works; they learn harder material at earlier ages, yet their sense of values has taken a plunge. Why even their diet choices are poorer, opening the door to obesity and early diabetes.

With all these challenges against them, the person who is in charge of these malleable minds for a majority of their life is the teacher. What a load to carry! They have to deal with broken children and dysfunctional parents who want them to take the responsibility in fixing their mistakes.

Why do people become teachers? It must be the great salary, knowing all the answers on the tests, free apples, the lack of free time at home grading papers and calling parents, or dealing with fun and exciting administrators who know everything, and all that respect! NOT!

What would posses a person to go into this field? Sure, the hours look good, a summer off, but just ask most teachers how many hours a week during the school year is required. How many teachers have to find a part-time job in the summer to supplement their pay? Besides a summer vacation has shrunk like a cheap tee shirt.

Did someone paint a delusion picture of teaching to them?

Is it the cherished moments when a student ‘gets it’ and a teacher beams with pride?

I compare the job to a marathon racer. They run hours for days, they sweat, they hurt, and they push themselves to the limit and then take all this training to run the race, only placing near the bottom of the pile. Why did they do it? Yet the next day, they are out running again.

I ask myself the similar questions, why did I have children? The majority of the time it is crazy, filled with discipline issues, keeping their underwear clean, lack of appreciation, stress, battle of wills, and then one smiles at me and says that he loves me more than I love him. Is that like being a teacher? All the bad is worth the short spurts of good?

Teachers have skills others lack, such as being able to write on a chalkboard (dry eraser boards today) without turning their backs on the class. They can take a crooked line of kids and make it straight. Teachers have strong bladders, the ability to eat fast, and can smell chewing gum when it is present. Teachers are dictators, counselors, diplomats, soldiers, preachers, Martha Stewart, and baby-sitters.

They get no respect.

Today, they might even get shot!

“Education…is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning… by praise, but above all — by example.” – John Ruskin. “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” – Thomas Carruthers. “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.” – Sir Claus Moser.

So, for all you teachers, here is my tribute to you and my shout out to you. You have my children! You have my respect!

Column dismissed.