The Wisconsin budget battle has provided an occasion for people to say a lot of wrongheaded things about the teaching profession -- such as the contention that teachers are too generously paid for a "part-time job" with a long summer vacation. "Daily Show" viewers will recall host Jon Stewart ridiculing such arguments. But how about hearing from a teacher at the heart of the conflict? Over at the Awl, Abe Sauer speaks to one who provides some much-needed clarity on this labor-intensive profession:
As a teacher whose husband works in the private sector, I try to keep an open mind about how "outsiders" perceive the teaching profession. There is some merit, I suppose, to the arguments that teachers deserve cuts because they only work nine months a year, and have pretty appealing benefits for working in a profession that doesn't "immediately affect public safety and well-being"--something I hear so often. However, as a teacher, I work seven days a week (averaging 10-12 hours a day) to ensure that my students are exposed to relevant, rigorous and engaging lesson plans and substantive qualitative and quantitative feedback. In addition, my summer breaks are always consumed with courses, workshops, trainings and professional development (that I pay for) in order to improve my teaching skills. When I graduate with my masters degree in Education this Spring, I will enroll in another graduate level program to earn another certification in order to remain marketable in a job where contract renewal is rather tenuous. The vast majority of the time, I come home feeling like I have made a positive impact on the lives of young people; this, not the benefits, is why I went into teaching. It's an indescribable feeling, how much I love my job. I don't think that I can put it into words; I don't know many teachers that can. But I wish that more parents and community members would take advantage of my open invitation to visit my classroom. Just as I would never make assumptions about another's profession, I contend that it is a sign of ignorance for anyone to make judgments about the quality and value of my profession unless they truly have an understanding of the pedagogical and personal skills I utilize every day.
Emphasis mine, because I don't think it's widely known how often and how hard teachers work at obtaining new certifications and skills, not just to advance in their careers, but to maintain them.
In some circles, it's held as an article of faith that six-figure salaries and generous compensation packages are vital to attracting "the top talent."
A Wisconsin Teacher on Teaching After Unions [The Awl]