Monday night…6:00…Tasby Lions are getting ready to play Rusk Middle School in football. The stands are almost empty (transportation issues, working parents, and the cost of the games don’t allow for most students to attend). Yet the full cheerleading squad of about 10 girls is going strong. Teachers by day, Ms. Cameron and Ms. Thomas, encourage and coach the girls; LCC teacher, Chief Brown, sits in the stands watching every play of the team and shouting words of encouragement; Assistant Principal Del Rio watches the game; three male teachers by day coach the team.
At halftime, I decided to move over to the girls volleyball game. As we walked in, the Tasby principal, Mr. Mays, was standing, cheering from the sidelines. The girls were doing well! Coach Fogelsong was standing, smiling, and mouthing the chants the girls had made up to do every time they scored a point. Ms. Dominguez, a TA during the day, was sitting on the bench right alongside, smiling and encouraging as well. Ms. Barnes, another Assistant Principal, came in during the second game to watch.
"So what?" you might say. "It’s their job." Right?
Not exactly. Their job is to teach. During the day. They get to work around 7:00 am…yet at 8:00 pm, they were all still going strong. I didn’t hear a word of complaint. Every single teacher I saw was excited, encouraging, and had a smile on their face. None looked exhausted or were grumbling, “I’m ready to go home!”
The other thing that struck me is that most of us have down time during our day. We may have clients to visit or meetings to attend. Many of us do have a lot on our plate. But think about teachers. They have about 100 clients that they see EVERY SINGLE DAY. They meet with their clients for seven (7!!) hours each day with *maybe* a 45 minute break to plan and prepare (or go to the bathroom or eat, whichever they prefer).
Of course, some meetings can be simply attended, but the meetings we are leading, we need to prepare for ahead of time. So when do teachers possibly prepare for these all-day, back-to-back meetings for over 100 clients?? (Did I mention that “the boss” expects them to not only conduct a meeting, but to actually move these 100 students forward by fairly significant lengths each day??). Well, it’s obvious that it’s impossible to prepare for those meetings during that seven-hour day. Preparation needs to be done before or after these seven-hour meetings.
Oh, wait… there are other meetings with the clients “attorneys” (aka: principals, grade level chair meetings, Site-Based Decision Making meetings, parent meeteings…) that must take place after hours because it’s impossible to have those meetings while meeting directly with the clients. And those "attorneys" often can’t meet until 6:00 at night because they have other obligations. Plus, those meetings must be prepared for as well.
So when does a teacher plan and prepare for the next seven-hour meeting? Oh…that would be after he/she finishes for the day…which is often after 6:00 or 7:00. And, as we saw at the ball game, those teachers were busy coaching, encouraging, and engaging the crowd in cheerleading for their school. I got home at 8:30 that night…and the coaches, teachers, and principals hadn’t even left yet.
Being an attorney, an engineer, or even a doctor may be a difficult job. But each of those jobs has factored in time to write notes and documentation, plan and prepare, and read and research for the next meeting so that they are properly equipped to help their client. We recognize the importance of that time. The teaching profession doesn’t have that same luxury…and is the only one I can think of at the moment that doesn’t allow that time.
As I watched those teachers and talked to a few of them during the game, they beamed with pride and reminisced about other students who had played at Tasby that are now in high school or college. They should be commended for their unwavering dedication and their smiles while doing it.
And yes, for what they do and how they do it, they deserve to be making more than top CEOs.