So the district I used to work for just named its Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. I don’t know the guy; he teaches fourth grade and has been with the district for five years. I assume he’s good at his job; typically that’s a requirement for being named a building TotY, and to be named for the entire district is a genuinely big deal. Best I ever did was top 10.
There’s an article in the paper about him. After thinking about it, I’m not going to link to it, because the purpose of this post is not to shit on this guy and you’re just going to have to believe me that I’m quoting this accurately. The article is mostly Good Teacher Boilerplate until I got to this part, about 2/3 of the way through:
Like his students, (name redacted) appears to have a bottomless well of energy.
He and his wife, (Mrs. redacted), have three children, ages 4, 2 and 1.
Besides full-time teaching, (redacted) works 10 to 25 hours per week at a home improvement store and is studying for a master’s degree at IU South Bend. He was head football coach for 11 years for the team at St. Matthew’s School in South Bend.
My first thought was that it’s ridiculous that we pay our teachers so Goddamn poorly that this guy, like most working teachers in the area, has to have a second job. Without an MA and with five years of experience he’s probably not even making 35K a year, and if he is, it’s barely. And that’s too low. It’s insane that a job that requires a college degree and insists on continuing education after that pays so poorly, particularly one that’s so critical to the functioning of society at large.
And then I thought about it a little more. Dude’s a full-time teacher. That’s, bare minimum, 8-4 five days a week. He’s not in a low-grading classroom where he can just pass/fail everyone, and for me grading and lesson planning was at least another eight hours a week– ie, most of Saturday or most of Sunday or longer hours every day during the week– and I was excellent at crafting assignments that took as little time as possible to grade. No Teacher of the Year is working 40-hour weeks. It’s impossible.
And he’s supposedly laying another one to three eight-hour shifts on top of that, plus a bare minimum three hours a week in an MA classroom assuming he’s only taking one class and doesn’t spend a single second reading or studying, plus travel time to all the above, plus he has three children all under five years old?
And now part of me is going “Jesus, this poor guy,” and the rest of me is pretty goddamn sure somebody somewhere is lying, because there literally aren’t enough hours in the week for anyone to pull this schedule off. The reporter apparently didn’t care enough to add it up and figure out that this guy is claiming eleven-hour work days every single day ever while also somehow raising three very fucking small kids.
I seriously can’t figure out which is worse: that this could actually be his schedule, in which case he’s going to burn out and hit a wall very, very soon, and it’s not going to be pretty for anyone involved when he does, or if a guy who is already Teacher of the Year still feels the need to lie about his schedule and the reporter just shrugged and wrote it down. That’s how pervasive the teacher-as-martyr idea is; he or she looked at all that and boiled it down to “bottomless energy” and not “on the road to flaming out and divorce at 30.”