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You're so lucky!"
"Do you even work?"
These are just a few of the questions teachers are faced with when they have school vacations. Yes, teachers do not work every day of the year. Yes, we do get the school vacations. Is it fair? Do teachers even work that hard that they need that much holiday? These are just some of the questions teachers get.
With the problematic education system in the US, with teachers walking out due to pay disputes, to teachers in the UK burning out too quickly under a mountain of pressure, paperwork, and behavioural issues at schools—in the majority of countries worldwide, teachers are often underpaid and undervalued for their work. Yes, we may not be bankers dealing with large amounts of money. We may not be surgeons with our hands in someone's chest. We may not be lawyers fighting against wrongdoers in court, but every one of those careers had to learn to write, to read, to count somewhere. Sometimes, a teacher's job is overlooked and not seen as "important." There was a quote made by Donald Quinn that went as follows: "If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some concept of the classroom teacher's job."
Many teachers are not adequately resourced for their classrooms. Most teachers buy many resources themselves, furniture, books, posters. And many of these things are not looked after by the children in the classroom. Teachers give their hearts and souls to the children in their classrooms. Some days you are drained and stripped bare of all your emotions. Your heart can break for your children in more ways than you could imagine. But then, there are the days when you feel you can't go on and your children surprise you. They fill you up, they remind you what you are working for and towards.
That's what it's like every day. A teachers job has evolved over the years. No longer are we just required to teach the syllabus and mark tests. We become a parent, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a friend, a psychologist, sometimes a punching bag, a policeman. As some parents become less involved in their children, a teacher's role starts to change, and expectations of the teacher's roles change, giving them more responsibility. As teachers, we inspire, we persist, we celebrate wins, we console losses. We heal, we listen, we lead, we model, we question, we care, we cry when the children hurt, we laugh when they laugh. Our job is so much more than a nine to three. School may finish at three, but we then have marking, preparing, organising, meetings, and school events—all of which are outside of so-called "teaching time." That time does not include the emotions that you take home at the end of a trying day. If you have spent all day arguing, fighting, and pushing through those extra "tough days," you get home drained, exhausted, and still needing to deal with whatever type of household you return to.
So, the next time you say, "Oh, you're so lucky to always have a holiday," remember, we give more of ourselves to our job than normally required, that holiday is not just a holiday. It is time to recharge, prepare, and ready ourselves for the next chapter. Every child is one caring teacher away from their own success stories.