by Rebecca Klein
It hasn’t been an easy go for teachers lately. In major cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, thousands of teachers were laid off this past summer. Meanwhile, the state of North Carolina recently ended teacher tenure and eliminated extra pay for teachers with masters degrees.
Several weeks ago, blogger William E. White pointed out that during back-to-school season in America, “Cartoonists, comedians, pundits, and critics are out in force running down the teaching profession.” However, here at The Huffington Post, we are big fans of teachers, and we think it’s important to show appreciation for them even if mass culture and some state legislatures do not.
As the first weeks of school for many districts draw to a close, we are eager to show teachers what we do — and more importantly — do not think about them. In that vein, we have compiled a list of belittling phrases that you should NEVER say to teachers.
1. “Teaching sounds like such a sweet gig. I mean, you get summers off.”
As teacher bloggers around the Internet can attest, the idea that teachers get summers off is often nothing but a myth. During the summer, many educators teach summer school classes, participate in teacher training, earn advanced degrees and plan for the next year.
2. “I could so be a kindergarten teacher. It’s like babysitting, and I love finger-painting.”
Really? You’re fooling yourself if you think managing an entire class of children is anything like babysitting.
3. “It’s great that when you go home you have no more work to do while your students have to do homework.”
If only that were true. Try coming home and grading homework, working on the next day’s lesson plan, having conferences with teachers and filling out mountains of paperwork. According to a 2012 article in The Washington Post, teachers, on average, work 53 hours a week.
4. “So if you have students who are ‘X’ years old, does that mean you could have basically stopped going to school when you were that age?”
By that logic, couldn’t kids just teach other kids?
5. “It’s awesome that the point of teaching is to make a difference, but do you really think any of your students will remember you?
Do you remember your best teachers? Kids these days do, too.
6. “Don’t you just get to tell kids what you think all day?”
The role of the teacher is not to teach kids what to think, but how to think.
7. “If you get tenure, you pretty much can never get fired, right?”
Wrong. Tenure does not guarantee job security for life, it just requires that a teacher be given due process before being terminated. As noted in a National Education Association blog, “Tenure is about due process — not about guaranteeing jobs for life. And it’s not about protecting ‘bad’ teachers — it’s about protecting good teachers.”
8. “Can’t you just sit back and let the textbook teach for you?”
Teachers do get evaluated, you know.
9. “Do you have a lot more free time now that a lot of kids have private tutors?”
Tutors are meant to supplement. They are certainly no replacement for the real thing.