Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Teachers Have the Summer Off? Hah!

Several years ago, when contemplating career choices, I thought about things such as "What about when I become a mom?" Mom always said, "You need to be a teacher! It's the best career for a mom: summers off, through by 3:00p.m. daily, and holidays with your kids." Of course, I ate a great deal of crow, because I would NEVER be a teacher! They don't get paid enough and they get zero respect. Well, several years later, guess what I do for a living? You got it! I teach at a public elementary school in the glamorous state of Mississippi to a diverse group of children. Unfortunately, I found several of those "fringe benefits" my mother had talked about, well, how can I put this, to be not exactly true however she failed to mention the rewards I experienced as well.

I have now been a teacher for several years as well as a mom. Summers off? Not hardly. A teacher's summer begins around the first of June and ends roughly at the end of July, when we come back to the schools to get our classrooms ready. Do we get paid for that time? Again, a big negative. We get paid for the ten months we work; our checks are spread out through the summer by the school system as a courtesy. We're not getting paid for that time. We get paid for the time we put in during the school year, and as for that, that's only for 8 hour days which doesn't include grading papers at home, or writing lesson plans from home, or staying well past the last bell to finish getting grades in the computer or getting ready for the next day.

Now, that's not to say that teachers don't have fringe benefits. A fringe benefit is seeing a kindergartener who did not know how to hold a pencil in August become the child with the best handwriting in May. This child had no parental support (the so-called parents didn't care much about her) and had never had the opportunity to even color with crayons or draw with a pencil before entering kindergarten. She ate twice a day (due to what seemed to be neglect): when she got off of the bus in the morning and at lunch. It was so disheartening to know that this was the case, and to know that DHS would do nothing about it because their idea of neglect is so much more extreme than mine (this is a soapbox of mine, and I will surely revisit it in a later post). She was such a precious little girl, but due to her poor home environment, she was terrified for the first month or so. By May, however, she was like a flower that had finally bloomed. How incredible! She now loves to come to school and offers a friendly hug and smile every time I see her.

One fringe benefit is when kids get their moms to call and check on you because you've been out of school for a few days with the flu as happened with my last class. I never thought I'd see the day that I had tears on the last day of school! Educators always have to remember that children are a precious gift from God, whether they are our best students are our worst. They are somebody's babies, and we need to accept them as such. Having your students love you back makes all of that so easy.

Another fringe benefit is knowing that you've touched a child, not just taught her. With the good times, however, come the bad, like when a parent chews you out because her child didn't get an award that she thought she deserved, and to top it off, your principal walks away and leaves you stranded. I always thought my principal was supposed to support me and back me up. What's up with that? Again, that is a topic I will address in later posts. But, I don't have 3 degrees to walk away; I keep pushing for those "fringe" benefits, and with every group of kids comes a different set of benefits.

Here's hoping for a great rest-of-the-summer vacation; that excellent paycheck really helps to fund those trips to Sandals, you know. I'm sure to have some great experiences to share this school year!

Note from Kingfish: Cliffnotes is a teacher in Mississippi. She will post on here from time to time on education issues and related topics. Feel free to comment on her posts or email her directly.


Anonymous said...

I am also a school teacher who after several years of trying everything else found my true calling to be in the classroom. Its a difficult job and I correct anyone who suggests that it isnt. The pay isnt all the great, but I am in TX where it makes living a little easier. I left Louisiana for better pay and a better work environment. I love my work, the kids I work with, and some of those fringe benefits. Because I teach in TX, there are a few differences in requirements. I get to spend the summer collecting training hours in workshops(25 a yr and 75 in a rolling 3 yr period), but at least we get paid for those at the end of the school year. I have also found that here in TX there are more opportunities and programs geared to help kids succeed... which again, makes my job more pleasant. There is always that one kid you put on the bus the last day THANK GOD that he passed..and praying for his teacher the next year!!

I do what I do because that one child who matures, learns, grows, and changes makes the difference to me. I feel that he/she has accomplished something and I am all the more proud of him for doing so. As a teacher, I have found that I am the cheerleader for my kids when they make those great leaps and have those "A-HA" moments, because most of the time there is no one cheering for them outside of school (at home).

I wish you the best next year!! Have a great summer!

Cliffnotes from the Classroom said...

Hi lsudreamer! I hope I didn't give the wrong impression about my job! What I want is the opportunity for others to see that teaching is not just summers off and home by 4:00 everyday. When we teach, we are taking a childs life into our hands, and shaping and molding it. I love teaching, and I truly love my kids. I know exactly what you mean by those "A-HA" moments; that's why I'm still in the profession. I can say that I'm thankful that I don't have to meet the same requirements you do on summer workshops, however I'm spending a great deal of my summer in a classroom as well, on the other side of the desk: as a student (again). I hope we both get to see many of those moments above this upcoming year! Have a great summer.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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