Apparently I am a Loser Teacher. Presently, teachers all over the United States (and perhaps beyond?) are trying to understand how such a prominent figure could refer to educators as losers. In case you missed it, at a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, February 11, Donald Trump Jr. said:
“Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.” —Donald Trump Jr.https://www.weareteachers.com/loser-teachers/
Um, what? Clearly, Mr. Trump Jr. has no respect for teachers. Being called a loser teacher is beyond disrespectful. It is hurtful, ignorant, and, as if I were talking to my elementary students, just plain mean. What’s more, after 20+ years of (literal!) blood, sweat, and tears being called a Loser Teacher makes me angry. To be sure, I’d love for Donny to live the life of a teacher for even one day. Without doubt, his privileged little self would probably last 20 minutes, tops.
How to Become a Loser Teacher
Did you know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say “hey, I think I’ll go be a teacher!” On the contrary, I spent 4 years at a Big Ten University to earn my B.S. in Education with a minor in Spanish. Moreover, on top of regular classes I had to complete several practicums where I taught in local schools (thus having no time to take actual classes). In order to graduate in 4 years I had to take 18 hours of classes each semester AND go to summer school. Nonetheless, I plowed through and graduated on time. Loser teacher indeed.
Oh, and did I mention that during my junior year of college I decided to pursue child law? So, while I was taking all those classes and student teaching I was studying for the LSAT. True story. And, not to toot my own horn, I rocked that test and got into an amazing law school with a child law program. As a matter of fact, I passed the bar exam on the first try, and practiced family law for 10 years. Because you know, I’m a loser teacher.
My Journey Continued…
Subsequently, I realized that I hated practicing law. I could not be creative at all, which was a deal breaker for me! Thus, I decided to return to teaching in 2008. However, since I hadn’t taught for many years I needed to update my teaching certificate. In order to do that, I had to take 8 additional hours of coursework. So I did that at night while substitute teaching during the day. What’s more, I was doing this with a 3 year old and a 6 year old! Again, because I am, you guessed it, a loser teacher.
After I finished the classes I needed, I decided it would be a good idea to add some middle school endorsements to my certificate, so I took 3 more classes to complete endorsements in Language Arts and Social Studies. This while working and managing our family. But I was pursuing my passion (yes, Donny, us loser teachers are actually passionate about what we do) so I kept at it.
A Day in the Life of a Loser Teacher
I truly do not think anyone who is not a teacher can understand how physically and mentally exhausting it is. Therefore, here is a glimpse of my typical day for all those who think teachers have it easy. Oh, and keep in mind that I travel to 9 different classrooms throughout the day with no passing periods!
Morning at home
- 6:00 am: Wake up, shower.
- 6:45 am: Wake my kids up (not an issue with the 17 year old, but a battle every day with my 14 year old who has anxiety and is prone to school refusal - for more on that see her letter that I posted).
- 7:00 am: In between battling my daughter and trying to get dressed, I go downstairs to make myself coffee. Also, some days if I have time, I make a lunch to bring to school. During this time I am often interrupted by multiple shouts of “mom I need…” which is why I usually don’t get to the making my lunch part of the morning.
- 7:30 am: Still trying to get my daughter out the door (it’s also during this time that my husband usually asks what we are doing for dinner) while gathering all of the bags I somehow wind up needing to take to school.
- 7:45 am: Leave for work (I do acknowledge that I am very lucky to only have a 10 minute drive; there are many loser teachers who drive an hour or more each way to school).
What a Loser Teacher does during the school day
- 8:00 am: Get to my office (I teach Spanish as a traveling teacher) and prep for my morning classes. Undoubtedly, this time will include a fight with the copy machine, a necessary file not loading, or some other issue which will make all of the nice plans in my head go “poof!”
- 8:40-10:40: First, I teach 4 classes (30 minutes each) of 4th and 5th graders. In addition to teaching, I am often a nurse, social worker, and mom (I’m very good at tying shoes and helping button things). Moreover, most classes have at least 4-5 kids with IEPs or 504 plans. Therefore, I must know (and follow) all required accommodations.
- 10:40-11:40: Next, I have an hour to plan, which is really great but always goes too quickly. I return parent emails, look over student work, and, of course, draft lesson plans. I also analyze IEPs and 504 plans, as they are ever changing.
- 11:40-12:30: Lunch. Usually spent at my desk still working. And if I am not working, I am trying to handle issues related to my own kids (making doctor’s appointments, handling any school issues, making arrangements for carpools, etc.). Sometimes I will find a positive note from a student or teacher on my desk. Must be because I am a loser teacher.
- 12:30-1:00: Next I teach a 3rd grade class. Right after they come in from lunch recess. This is not easy. I’ll leave it at that.
- 1:00-1:30: More plan time, which is nice but always goes way too fast.
- 1:30-3:30: Finally, I teach 4 more 4th and 5th grade classes.
- 3:30-4:00: During this time I put back any materials I used throughout the day, and if time start planning for the next day.
Back home (well, not really)
- 4:00-7:00 (or later depending on the time of year): This is when I put on my mommy hat and serve as chauffeur, personal shopper, and therapist, among other things. My daughter has played travel soccer since 2nd grade, and has practice for 1.5 hours 3x a week. It takes about 35 minutes to drive each way. If my husband is working late I either sit in my car while she practices, or try to get any quick grocery shopping done. On the other days during this time I drive to therapy or orthodontist appointments, shop for home and school needs, or perhaps even take care of myself with a haircut.
- 7:00-10:30: Feed my family (sometimes this involves cooking, other times it means ordering in). Then, I help with homework if needed (although my son, who is a junior in high school, is now in Calculus so I am not much help there). Somewhere during this time I work on lesson plans, write for my blog (my son goes to college in 1.5 years and my teacher’s salary alone won’t cut it), pay bills, and other fun stuff. Note my sarcasm.
- 10:30: Attempt to go to bed; often thwarted by a needy child (or husband). I am lucky if I get to sleep by 11:30 and get 6.5 hours of sleep.
So there you have it in a nutshell. This is a very generalized version of my day, since without fail something unexpected happens that requires my time (and usually my money). Still think I’m a loser teacher? Wait, there’s more!
I spend my “time off” (AKA weekends) mostly taking care of my kids (which often involves very early, like 7 am on a Sunday early, soccer games). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love watching her play, but man do Monday mornings suck after one of these games! I also attend conferences to strengthen skills, engage in team planning meetings (including several days over the summer), and write curriculum. So no, teachers do not sit around eating bon bons during our “free” time.
Are you a loser teacher or do you have one in your life?
If you are, or if you do, please share your story in a comment. We need to band together and make sure that we are not taken for granted! THANK YOU for all you do and sacrifice!