Fangirl Friday--Teachers

To paraphrase a popular internet meme, since you are reading this, you have a teacher to thank. Whether it is your mom or dad, who home schooled you, your kindergarten teacher, who taught you the alphabet, or an elementary school teacher, who taught you to read your first words, you have a teacher to thank for this wonderful skill. 

Gratitude toward teachers is something that is sorely lacking in the US. Teachers are expected to accomplish so much. They are shaping the minds of our future, for crying out loud, yet they are given almost no support to achieve the things expected of them. Well, I for one, am extremely grateful for all of the teachers out there,and I'm not afraid to show it. So, as teachers across the country prepare for another school year, this Fangirl's piece is dedicated to all of the teachers out there who are struggling against the government, administrators, and parents, to ensure our next generation comes out as useful members of society.

Keep reading after the jump!!
Yes, I am writing my Fangirl piece about teachers. Why? Because I think teachers are possibly the hardest working and most under-appreciated workers out there. But, admittedly, I am a little bit biased. My mother, my husband, and two of my best friends are all teachers. Plus, our very own Head Wench Barb used to teach as well! 

Now, I could use this as a platform to complain about how ridiculous the new Common Core standards are, or how teaching has become not about learning, but about test scores. And, how the new standards and tests don't take into account special education students, like the ones my mom teaches. Or, how the standardized tests are biased against poor schools. But, I won't. This is the only time I am going to mention those. All of the teachers out there already know all of this. They don't need to read about it here too. If you don't know what I'm talking about, click the links provided at the end of this piece for some information on how these standards and tests are changing our country's school system, and not for the better, in my opinion.

Teachers Instill a Love of Learning
This may not surprise you, but I loved going to school. I didn't necessarily love the people I encountered there. But, I loved going to school and learning. If it wasn't expensive and impractical, I'd still be in school. I would happily take nearly every course offered at any given college or university. Obviously, some of this is a natural born curiosity, but a lot of it was instilled in me from a young age, starting with my parents. As I said above, my mom is a teacher. When I was very little, she used to take me with her to school after hours. She would grade papers and I would play with all of the school's educational games and toys. My parents also read to me, took me to museums, and did pretty much everything they could to grow my love of learning.

This love continued when I got to school. There were so many different subjects and activities and books. I was in seventh heaven. But, plenty of teachers helped me continue to grow my love of learning by making their subjects fun and interesting. Even teachers who had been teaching for 20+ years, still had excitement for what they do. They still wanted to appropriately shape the young minds entrusted to them. To this day, I remember my 2nd grade teacher encouraging my love of reading. She actually brought me the reading textbook that the 3rd graders used, so that I could read ahead. Then, there was my 6th grade history teacher who assigned us the task of designing our own sarcophagus while teaching us about ancient Egypt. And, in 8th grade, our history teacher encouraged us to earn extra credit by volunteering with her son's political campaign. He won that election and has since gone on to become the sheriff of Cook County, which is the county that Chicago is located in. I also remember my very first field trip. All of the first graders in my school walked to the nearest branch of the Chicago Public Library. While there, we all signed up for library cards and were allowed to check out any book we wanted. I have many more examples of teachers continuing to encourage my love of learning. But, I think these early memories are the most important to prove my point. I entered first grade in 1989. 25 years later, I still remember that field trip, from just the general memory of going on the trip to the more detailed memory of walking by my grandparents' house and waving to them on our way to the library.

This is what teachers do. They instill a love of learning so strong, memories like this last 25 years and counting. Didn't I ever have a bad teacher? Of course, I did. The most notable being my high school biology teacher who based your grade on the length of your uniform skirt. But, that doesn't mean that I didn't learn anything from him, or from the other bad teachers I've come across. Even a bad teacher can still help you learn. And, they also help you to recognize an exceptional teacher when you come across them.

Teachers: Underpaid and Overworked
The biggest complaint in our society is that teachers are paid too much, work short days, and get the summer off. Let's go through these point by point and I will show how just how patently absurd these complaints are. 

Teachers Have Short Days
Yes, the school day is on average about 7.5 hours long. But, that only accounts for time spent in the classroom. Teachers also have to tutor students, meet with parents, attend staff meetings, and meet with fellow teachers. That is all before they leave the school building. Once they get home, they have to plan their curriculum, grade assignments, write tests, put together the pieces needed for various projects, and other job-related tasks. How many of you have work related things that you do at home? Not many of you, I would guess. A Washington Post article estimates that the average teacher has a 10 hour and 40 minute work day. That's 53 hours per week, every week. This also doesn't take into account teachers that participate in extra-curricular activities, like coaching sports, directing school plays, and advising academic clubs. My husband and one of my best friends, for example, are very involved in the theatre program of their schools. This means that 3-4 times per school year, for 6-8 weeks each time, they are at school from approximately 7am till 10pm, sometimes later. Every. Day. Then, in addition to these long days, they are also there on Saturdays and some Sundays. That's a 15 hour day, five days a week, plus whatever time they spend at school on the weekend. This does not include any grading or other work they do at home. I am sure that many sports coaches have a similar work load during the time their sport is in season. That's a 75 hour work week, plus whatever work they do at home and on weekends. Do you still think teachers have short days? 

Summers Off
If you still don't think teachers deserve their summers off after what you just read, let's take it a little bit further. Yes, some teachers get summers off. But, many teachers teach summer school. Or, use the summer to take classes of their own to further their own education so they can better serve their students. Still others spend the summer re-writing the curriculum for their departments. Others, like coaches and theatre managers, have practices, games, camps, recitals, or other events that they have to chaperon. Plus, teachers generally are in school wrapping up the year a week later than students and return to school one to two weeks earlier to prepare for the new year. So, just because your kids aren't in school, don't assume that their teacher isn't. I think it's safe to say that teachers earn whatever portion of the summer they can get off.

Teachers are Paid Too Much
I'm going to leave this one up to someone much more clever than I....
Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year. It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit.  We can get that for less than minimum wage.That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.However, remember they only work 180 days a year. I am not going to pay them for any vacations.LET’S SEE…That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on. My calculator needs new batteries.)What about those special education teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here. There sure is.The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student– a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog
Do you still think teachers are paid too much? I didn't think so.

Teachers Inspire
A truly great teacher not only passes along the knowledge they are supposed to, they also inspire their students. That inspiration can come in many forms. It might be as simple as inspiring someone to learn more about a subject, or to actually do their homework. But, it might be the inspiration someone needs to turn their academic career around and actually graduate. Or, it might be the inspiration to pursue a career they once thought was out of reach, or a career they weren't even aware existed until a teacher came along. I had a pair of teachers like that in high school. I always loved the theatre and joined the stage crew when I got to high school. We built the sets, hung the lights, pulled together the props and costumes, and many other things for the school plays. Then, as I began to take the theatre classes and get more involved in the theatre program, the two theatre teachers at my school mentored me and give me more responsibilities. They showed me that a career in theatre was possible for someone like me, who had no interest in being an actor. So, here I am, 13 years out of high school, with a BA from one of the most prestigious theatre schools in the country and a job in my field. It's because they believed in me and showed me a path that I didn't know existed. That is what great teachers do. They inspire their students to do better, to be better people. I've heard tons of stories from various teachers throughout the years about past students that have come back to thank them for the inspiration they provided. But, my favorite is a somewhat personal one. One day when I was younger, I answered a knock at our door. There was a man standing there and he asked to speak to my mom. The man turned out to be a former student from the therapeutic school she used to teach at. He came to thank her for helping him turn his life around. Because of her, he was able to get a job, get married, and have a family of his own. For someone that spent time in an alternative/therapeutic school, that is true inspiration.
Pop Culture Teachers
Before I wrap this up, how about a bit of fun. I asked the other Wenches for their favorite teachers in pop culture. Here is what they told me:
Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World

Will Schuester from Glee

Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus

John Keating

The Staff of Hogwarts (well, most of them....)

And, of course, the two non-fiction teachers mentioned...
Bill Nye, the Science Guy

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I promised above that I'd give you some links about the standards and testing policies in our school system today. Here they are...

Well, it's time for me to stop rambling about how awesome teachers are. Did you have a teacher who inspired you or taught you to love learning? How about a favorite pop culture teacher? Did I miss any that you love? Let me know below!

** All images and gifs come from Tumblr


  1. Love your post Anne!! So sweet and true!!

    On a side note, I always thought Mr Shuester was a bit creepy and gross, but that's just IMO.

  2. Best college ever


Post a Comment

You Might Want to Read...

A Tribute to The Fiery Cross

When The Music's Over

Dani Mega O'Malley: Superstar

Black Dagger Brotherhood: Scenes That Left us Begging for More

So Many Questions: The Fever Edition