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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guarding Territory

I've always been territorial. I'm not going to lie or make excuses. I am the way I am and that's just how it is. Maybe it's because I'm an only child. Who knows; who cares?

If I'm hurting your feelings, I'm not sure what to say about that. Please read the next paragraph to see whether or not I mean you. I probably don't, if you are reading this.

Have you ever deliberately called yourself a teacher, misguiding your audience into believing that you are solely responsible for children's education in a specific classroom? I'll use my class as an example. Have you ever told one of my student's parents that you were their child's English teacher, knowing full well that you did not teach ELA at our school... knowing full well that you don't actually teach any subject at our school (or any other school)? Have you been asked by a stranger about your profession and you answer, "Oh, yeah, I teach at that school." and left it at that, allowing your audience to think that you go to school everyday and expound, like an expert, at length about Shakespeare / Math / Science / whatever to the teens of today?

If not, then I'm not talking about you. Settle down. 

If so, I am talking about you, and yes, I would say this to your face. Right to your nose.

Stop the lies. And you better hope that I never hear you say that in public because I will ask you (in front of your little audience) in detail every single thing about the B.Ed program/teaching college that you attended, child psychology, your subject matter (even if I don't know anything about it, I will ask questions until you can't answer anymore), your pedagogy, your future plans, specific details about our marking system, specific details about parent teacher interview techniques, literacy, the application of Catholicism in various subject matter, specific staff members and the various staff changes we have had over the past few years, staff meeting details...

... and I will make up sh!t that I can't even think of right now.

I will rip your story apart. You better start studying now. Because, you see, I don't mind being the b!tch. In fact, I will do it with glee.

I have worked hard to get where I am, as have many teachers and other professionals. And while some would say that teaching is not that big a deal, to me it is, because I *worked* to get here. Before I worked to get my Bachelor of Education degree, I didn't (have to) work at much else academically.

Because school came easy to me.

I read a lot, wrote a lot and enjoyed school work. I didn't learn study skills until I hit university. They were tough to learn, especially when I hadn't needed them for my entire school career up to that point.

There are a lot of things you are responsible for as a teacher. Standing at the front of a classroom and interacting with the kids is the fun part. But we also take on the legal responsibilities of having those children in the room with us, in addition to interacting with parents, colleagues and administration, not to mention the task of creatively educating said children while enhancing their self-esteem, among other things.

So when I hear someone who works in a school but doesn't teach a class / someone who doesn't know what they are talking about / someone who wants the respectability but have nothing to do with the real work / someone who wants the professional title but not have to do the university work to get there / someone who thinks it's fun times to be in a school but hates kids say, "I am a teacher," knowing they aren't one, without clarifying their position, thereby deliberately leading his/her audience to believe that he/she has done the work and holds a Bachelor of Education degree/teaching certificate, that *kind of* makes my blood boil.

Because the general public does not know the difference and they think you deserve the right to call yourself a teacher.

And you don't.

Show some respect.

While on contracts but not with the degree/certificate, I have heard people say, "I'm teaching xxxxx"... whatever, that's cool, because you are clarifying what you are doing. Teachers who hold a B.Ed./Certificate are often asked what they teach. 

Thank you for being understanding that our profession is respectable.

I realize this is a non-issue for some people. I realize we are all teachers in some way. 

My problem here is the *deliberate* lying of holding the degree/certificate. It is a complete lack of respect for those of us who entered the profession after working hard to earn it.

If you want to say you have the degree, go earn it.

If you can't earn it, because the work is hard or because money is tight, I hear you.

Some of the classes were hard, and it is expensive. Work harder. Save. If it is important to you, you will find a way. The rest of us did.

If you don't want to work harder, then it is not that important to you. And don't give the crap that it's 'too hard'... B.S.

Earn it. But shut up with the lying.

* I volunteered in a vet's office for a year. I don't run around, saying I'm a vet.

* If you need a lawyer, do you want the guy who is hanging around outside to defend you because, "Oh, well, I was inside the building a few times." ?

* If you worked hard to earn a degree, do you want people running around saying "I'm a xxxx" when people around you, your friends / family / acquaintances then say, "Well, it can't be that difficult to be a xxxx, since xxxx is doing the same thing, and she/he didn't even go to school for it!" ?

* I don't say I'm Administration. (Hmmm.... why aren't you saying that you're Admin? That's a totally different kettle of fish, now isn't it? Maybe give it a couple of years and you'll bump yourself up to that title).

No wonder people say, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."

We don't defend ourselves or our profession.

I've had the privilege of working with some wonderful EA's in my classes, some of whom taught things to both me and our students that were more valuable than anything ever written in a book. Never did I ever feel like I had to 'guard my territory' with them. I hope they didn't have to guard their territory with me. We co-existed, each teaching in our own realms, as teacher and EA: separate titles, similar jobs.

I've also had the privilege of working with some wonderful teachers, both as a student-teacher and as a team-teacher: separate titles, similar jobs. The same goes for this situation: if the boundaries are clear, then the situation works. I've also worked with some wonderful student-teachers: separate titles, similar jobs.

But this, "I'm an adult in a school, and I get paid, so I'm a teacher."

No, you're not.

Grow up.

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