A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

A Tip of The Hat to K-8 Teachers

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 14, 2010

Tip o' the Hat

I got a real look into the life of an elementary teacher during those 3 months I taught The Class from Hell last fall. I can’t say enough about the knowledge, versatility and all-out endurance those people show day after day.

Before we go any further I want to say that I have all those qualities too. But elementary teachers don’t have the same flux and flow that we high school teachers have.

My day is broken into 45 minute periods with 3 minutes in between. If first period is a little difficult today, I can grit my teeth, knowing they’ll go away in a little while and I can start all over with a fresh group of kids. *whew*

Not the elementary teacher. He/She is stuck with that same bunch until the hallelujah moment when a “specials” teacher arrives. A class with discipline issues can be like a runaway train, gaining momentum throughout the morning until the blessed relief of lunch.

An elementary teacher doesn’t teach one discipline like lucky me. Oh no – the K-8’er is the science, social studies, history, math and literacy teacher. What fun it must be, prepping for all that. Good-bye Sunday afternoons, and good-bye leisure time, grading all those papers, packets and projects.

Let’s not forget all the extra paperwork: documenting student behavior, tracking reading scores, contacting parents (who most likely can’t be reached because their phone numbers on record are bogus) and extensive commentary of student progress are just the start of it.

Then there’s the bulletin boards! holy moly how do they come up with all those ideas? better question – how can they afford all the doodads that go along with those ideas?

At my last assignment the teachers had an unspoken competition going: paisley borders, 3-d accessories and all sorts of whizz-bang effects were constantly being added to raise the bar on bulletin board construction. Every month we teachers were required to have a fresh theme and somehow they managed to come up with one.

I couldn’t hold a candle to their boards. My hallway bulletin board happened to have background paper because years ago someone left a gigantic pack of mud-colored construction paper in the closet. Who cares how long it had been there? – good enough for someone barely treading water in the middle school sea. Month after month my bulletin was functional and minimalist.  Beautiful and creative it was not.

There you have it, K-8’ers. I have tried your job and thank you, it wasn’t for me. But you pull off it off day after day with style, professionalism and grace. You have all my respect.


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