Last week one of the most important events in Indiana’s public education history occurred. Over 15,000 teachers, parents, students & supporters showed up at the statehouse to protest, speaking out against unjust legislation. I am proud to be a public school teacher, and I am so incredibly proud of us setting an example to our students and speaking up for what we believe in.
However, there are plenty of people who don’t support this cause. I want to use this post to express why I wear #REDforED.
I love my job. I love coming to work (most days) and seeing my awesome coworkers and students. When I have a good moment with a student it makes my entire day worth it, whether it’s a high-five in the hallway, listening to them excitedly tell me a story, or seeing them engage in a lesson I’ve created. I think being a middle school teacher is one of the best jobs in the entire world. I also think it’s one of the hardest jobs in the entire world. It’s such a pivotal moment in a child’s life as they are growing and changing so much, and they’re really learning how to be independent learners for the first time.
I know that not everyone can do this job. I know most of the legislators creating laws about education couldn’t handle this job. Not everyone can handle the stressful days that I go through each and every day. Because for every good moment I have with a student, there’s usually a frustrating one as well. Many people don’t have the patience to repeat directions, re-teach concepts in different ways for other learning types, teach procedures for daily routines, know how to respond to disruptive behavior, know how to respond to a fight, de-escalate a situation before it gets to a fight, teach kindness and how to be human along with the curriculum, build good relationships with 100+ kids, hold in their bladder until their planning time and come in every day really believing it’s a new day and not remembering mistakes kids made the day before.
It’s really tough.
These are some of the things teachers deal with on a day-to-day basis, before we even start to talk about the politics of education. That’s before we pile on the stress of teaching what’s on expensive standardized tests, and knowing we’ll be hurt if the students perform poorly. That’s before factoring how tired teachers are coming home from a second job and still having to grade papers and plan lessons. That’s before finding the time to complete a 15-hour externship to renew our teaching license. That’s before finding the money in our small budgets to pay back student loans and pay our Pearson exams. That’s before worrying about how to teach safe and engaging lessons with over 30 students in each of your classes. That’s before worrying about if you’ll have classroom supplies, textbooks, copy paper, working drinking fountains, soap for the bathrooms, etc. That’s before the stress of accommodating late busses because we didn’t have enough bus drivers. That’s before the stress of worrying if you can take a sick day because there are never enough substitutes and you don’t want your coworkers to have to work extra classes to cover for you.
Do you know who get’s hurt when all of these stressful events are factored into the school day? Students.
Students need to be a priority. Teachers need to be a priority. The way we view education in this state, and this country, needs to change.
I marched with teachers on Tuesday to stand up for myself, my coworkers and my students. I marched to show legislators that we’re not backing down until they do something about this crisis.
Now more than ever, we need to focus on schools and how critical it is to give each and every student access to a great education. We need to invest in their future. I went into teaching because I care about kids. I want to give kids the resources they need to create any future they want. Education is how generational poverty ends. It’s the American Dream, but our legislators are refusing to make it a priority.
My hope is that this momentum continues, that more and more people speak out and join us and that we make a drastic change on our education policies. We can’t wait. Them time is now.
My students and myself are the reasons I marched with #REDforED.