A Guest Blog Post by Michelle Doherty
Michelle Doherty is a First Grade Teacher at Encanto School in the Osborn School District and the 2017 Arizona Teacher of the Year.
I was recently asked to share my top wishes for education this year and was initially stumped by the open-ended opportunity. After talking with some incredible colleagues and teachers, it got me thinking… Why not write about what educators wish the community knew about what we do, what we think about 24/7, and our perception of what others think about our chosen profession.
- We wish you really knew our daily schedule.
Our students schedule is 7:45 am – 2:45 but this is not our schedule. The average teacher starts their day around 6:15 a.m. and ends around 6:00 p.m. Rarely does this 12-hour day include leaving campus. And, to be clear, this doesn’t include the work that is taken home, or completed on the weekends.
- We wish you knew that teachers do not work only 9-months out of the year.
That simply isn’t the truth. When school is out during the summer we are either taking classes or professional development courses that we have paid for to not only improve our craft, but to enhance student learning.Teaching is not a seasonal, 9-month job. We are constantly thinking of how to make an impact in the lives of our students through continued education and improved practices.
- We wish you knew that we take our students’ lives home with us.
Yes, it’s our choice to provide a student with an alarm clock (that we taught them how to set) because we want them to come to school. Yes, it’s our choice to provide glasses for a child because we noticed that they are squinting when they are reading. Yes, it’s our choice to provide a backpack with school supplies to our students so they can complete their work at home. We do this because we know in the long run our students will benefit from our choices academically, socially, and emotionally.
- We wish you knew how resourceful we can be.
We look at our students as “our kids,” and want to provide the best support for them. When we have a child who is struggling, please know we are aware and most likely are either researching how to support your child, or looking to a specialist within our school.Teachers often answer the question, “If this was my own child, what would I expect the teacher to do?”
- We wish you knew how often former students come by to visit and thank us for our role as their Teacher.
We hear often how we either providing them with either the support they needed, made an impact on their life at the perfect time, or opened their world to a profession they never knew was possible. Being a teacher means we make other professions possible. It’s a gift to have our former students come back to share that with us…and we love it!
- We wish you knew that we are not complainers.
We have chosen this profession. We are not politicians—we are educators. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to having an opinion—especially when it comes to what we do for a living.We wish you knew that we would rather try to figure out how to solve a problem, be proactive, rather than complain about it. Sit down with us, ask us questions, spend some time in our classrooms, find out what is happening, and you will soon know that we are problem solvers. We solve problems throughout the day. If you want to know how we do it all, just ask.
I could go on and on and share stories of what we wish the community knew about the lives of teachers and our chosen profession. Maybe you were familiar with some of our stories, maybe you have always supported and showed an appreciation for teachers, and if so, thank you.
If you read these wishes with hesitation or disbelief, please just answer the following question: Remember the one special teacher who made a difference in your life and think to yourself, “Why did that teacher make the choices he/she made and what might be their behind-the-scenes story?”