This is something I want to scream at people on a regular basis! Let me explain the scenario. This usually happens to me on weekends or anytime I meet someone brand new. It’s a conversation I have had many times!
Person B: “What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a teacher.”
Person B: “What do you teach?”
Me: “I teach 2nd grade.”
Person B: “Aww, that’s so cute!”
I listen to this with a smile on my face and acknowledge the compliment they think they are giving me. I try not to let them know how insulting it is. Yes, I understand how non-educators think there is a certain level of “cuteness” to working with small kids. I get that! I know they watch television and I know they have seen numerous education shows for children. However, I do not go to work dressed as a big purple dinosaur. I do not have a talking blue dog nor do I have a magic backpack or school bus. I do not live in an amazing playhouse. I do not live on a fun street filled with puppets. I do not come to WORK everyday in crazy outfits. I come to work dressed like a professional and I behave like a professional as well!
When I hear someone say, “Aww, that’s cute!”, I feel that they might as well say, “Oh teaching isn’t a real profession!” You would not tell a doctor, lawyer, or banker, “Oh, your job is adorable!” You understand that they went to college and got a degree. You understand that they are experts in their fields and work hard at it. You also understand that they have a plethora of knowledge about their fields that the average layman is not privy to! My colleagues and I have also went to college and got a degree. We also took a state test that said we were qualified and knowledgeable enough to be trusted with your children! We are also experts in our fields. I want to tell you, “Please take me seriously!”
Being a teacher is not easy work! You have to understand the developmental ages of every one of your students. You have to understand why certain subjects and standards are not appropriate at a given time or age. You have to understand how outside factors such as family issues, health concerns, or money can impact a child’s behavior. You have to know how to manage that behavior as well. Try telling 25 people with their own free will what to do and see how far you get.
This deep knowledge of educational needs and the development of students is what makes me and my colleagues experts. If you want to make decisions on education, who do you think should be involved in those discussions? I am not writing policies to tell an accountant how to file a tax return. I have no knowledge of that field. I’ll let the experts make those decisions. Everytime a new policy comes into place without teacher input is like telling every teacher “Aww, you’re so cute! Now go back and play with your crayons while the adults decide what to do with you!” Why are we certified to teach in our respective states if you do not feel that we are qualified to make decisions regarding our profession and our area of expertise? If we do not meet your deadlines and follow “your” new goals, will you make us stand in the corner like an unruly 7 year old? Are we no longer cute if we demand respect?
We are not cute! We are experts and professionals. Please take us seriously.
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