22 Comments

  1. Wow Penny. I’m not a teacher but this nearly had me in tears. I’m so glad the world has a teacher like YOU as well. I work in healthcare, oncology, and it too can be thankless and utterly soul destroying at times. But on the bad days I do the same, and remember the good days. Beautiful post, and I hope it will inspires many people for many years on their bad days.

  2. kddomingue

    I couldn’t read the post that went viral not the response as I do not have a Facebook account. But your post made me want to weep. Both of my parents were educators and I substituted during the years my children were in school. The old saying is that those who can’t do, teach. And it makes me mad every time I hear it. Very few who can can do ‘the thing’ can teach ‘the thing’. Why? Because teaching is a science and an art and a thing of the heart. It’s a talent that not everyone possesses. I could jump up on my soapbox about how teachers are underpaid, underfunded, lacking in support from their administrations, parents and the general public, underappreciated. I could rant about teachers being forced to spend more time teaching to standardized tests rather than teaching our children how to think for themselves and learn on their own and giving them the skill sets that would allow them to do so. I could jump up on my soapbox…but I won’t. Instead I’ll simply offer a heartfelt thank you to all of the good, hardworking, talented teachers out there who continue to give our students their best while facing such challenging roadblocks. Thank you.

  3. Jeff D

    You did it to us again Penny. Both simultaneously making us well up and also(to me) making our blood boil. My mother was a teacher, and after she passed, my dad married our 4th grade teacher. So this tale is one I am well aware of. As Mr. Groovy is fond of saying “I love you in the most honorable way.” I’m so glad that this world has/have teachers like you in it. JD

    • Wow. Your words mean a lot, Jeff. I’m glad to be a teacher. Truly. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It makes me so profoundly sad at the thought of losing anyone from the profession, but I certainly understand where the original poster was coming from.

  4. Powerful stuff, Penny. I have two things to say in response to your post. First, I tell the folks who work with and for me that this job is not who they are, it is what they do so that they can be who they are. I think that notion is a little easier to live in the practice of corporate law than in teaching, but there is some truth to be had in it still.

    Second, we all have teachers in our lives who made a difference, if not THE difference. For me it was Miss Williams, in the first grade, who saw in my actions a kid who was trying to figure out how to learn and not just another kid who acted out. When I went away to college I found Miss Williams (she had retired) and thanked her for loving me into submission. And then Mrs O’Bryan my senior year of high school who called me out for not giving my best effort and in her disappointment, I found the motivation that has carried me through my professional life. I’m still in touch with her and never miss an opportunity to tell her what she has meant to me, and by extension, to my family.

    I tell this story because every teacher out there who is over burdened, under paid, disrespected by parents and administrators, and still does their best to equip our children to live in this crazy world, every one of you will have dozens of people, just like me, who never would have had the wonderful lives we have had if we had not come under your influence.

    So, for all of those kids, past, present and future, who have, do and will need you, I say “Thanks” to anyone and everyone who has picked up this mantle and worn it with pride. Thanks for the sacrifice and for your understanding. It has, does and will make the world, and the people in it, better.

  5. Lizzy

    What in the world is wrong with our country in that we are incapable of properly funding quality education and paying our teachers what they deserve?

  6. Wow, so many thoughts right now. But this is the line that absolutely sums it up…” But I promise you, the bad days get better and there is no greater career.” 29 years in now – and back in the classroom and I love it. Is it perfect? Not at all. But I’ve already had kids thank me for coming to teach in their teacher’s place since she has gone out on maternity leave. I could be home but this was the right thing to do. And yes, there are definitely a ton of issues and this woman needs support from parents and administration. I hope she reconsiders or changes schools. We need every teacher we can get!

    • I feel the same way, Vicki. I was so sad reading her post. We’ve all had those days! I want to tell her to hang in there, that it’s worth it. But I also understand why people feel they need to leave.

  7. Hey Penny – from a material perspective what can parents to help out most? Should I give gift cards to Target so that my kids’ teachers can get supplies? Donate books that my kids like to read? Donate cash to the school? Volunteer my time in the classroom? Something else?

  8. So many hugs.

    More than a few of my close friends or their family are teachers too, and I thank everything every day that you and they’re suited to the jobs and do their best – they’re literally helping to ensure our future in a way that I could not do. I make it a point to send thank you notes to my old high school teachers because my old elementary school and middle school teachers are largely gone now, in hopes that they know how valued they are. I hope that more people start to realize how important teaching is to our society.

    • I have saved every note and card I’ve ever received. I still have a poster hanging on my wall from student teaching ELEVEN years ago. Those words mean the world to us.

  9. Penny, this post made me tear up. I’ve always had teaching in the back of my mind as a possible career, but I honestly am not sure that I’m strong enough for it. Thank you for all that you do to make a difference in your students’ lives even it seems a horribly thankless task. Teaching future generations is the most important work a society can do, and it’s criminal that we’re not doing everything we can to support you and the other people who take on that responsibility.

  10. Holy moly that was a waterfall of emotions! I remember our school district (in one of the wealthiest cities in the world) ran out of paper for the entire school year. I mention this story a lot because it perfectly and quickly illustrates the ridiculousness of our priorities.

    And you think it only lasted a short while before we got paper again? NO. We didn’t use paper for the rest of the year. Everything was copied by hand via scantrons and my god were the teachers sad!!! They had to copy things and they only had their teacher’s copy (of which we passed around. Grrrrrrrr.) No student or teacher deserves that, what the heck. (This was in 2007-2008.) Thanks for being a teacher Penny and sticking in there.

  11. Wow – this is an amazing post. Sadly, this post isn’t anything new for me as I am the lone person in my family that is not an educator. My sisters and brother-in-law all have had various stints in education and have shared similar experiences to some degree. I hate hearing people ignorantly say “teachers are paid well for the days worked” or “man it must be nice to have summer offs” for every single reason you highlighted in this article. The blood, sweat, and tears that passionate teachers pour into their classroom is amazing. To me, even if you can impact one or two students with your actions, it is worth it. The lows have to be lows, but the few highs you have must give off an amazing feeling. Don’t let the bad days keep you down. Just remember about the few lives that you can touch each day and how you can potentially change the course for so many people with your hard work, sweat, and sometimes, tears.

    Bert

  12. Both my wife and I are teachers and while we knew that we spent well over the allotted $250 educator tax deduction, we had never totaled the receipts until we became homeowners looking to maximize our deductions during tax season.

    We were beyond horrified to realize that we spent two thousand dollars (!!!!) subsidizing my wife’s music classroom: boxes of paper for copies, repair parts for instruments, new music, and other essential costs of an instrumental performing group. Shortly after that realization, she was told that her students would need to perform at a dinner honoring community members who have donated at least $500 to her district. Not only were her own financial contributions ignored, she received no additional stipend or pay. What a kick in the teeth.

    We’ve started asking administrators for donation receipts when we bring in items for student use, because that’s what those things are: donations to the school. Not “the cost of doing business”, not “part of the job”, and not “what’s necessary to be excellent.” That practice has gone a long way to start conversations about the culture around classroom spending and slowly flipping the script from entitled to grateful.

    And, guess what? We’re on the donor reception invite list this year. Very surreal to go from an administrator laughing at the idea of reimbursing those expenses to a board member presenting her with a plaque in a year! It’s all in the marketing, I guess.

    Either way, thank you for the reminding us that the students are who matter, in the end. It does get better, although sadly, sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.

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