Seven Myths about Teachers

Myth #1:  They work from 9-3 and have summers off.

Facts: They arrive early and stay late. They go home and grade papers, plan lessons, make things to use in class.  They work in the summer and take classes too.

Myth # 2: During state tests, after reading the instructions, they sit at their desks, reading magazines.

Facts: They become security guards, on their feet for hours, monitoring students for cheating and other possible behaviors that could jeopardize the school’s test results.

Myth # 3: They assume all students arrive to school well-fed and ready to learn.

Facts: Many teachers share or giveaway their lunches, give students money to buy lunch. They understand some kids haven’t eaten anything.

 Myth #4: They assume students have warm clothes, a quiet place to do homework, nutritious family dinners, and set bedtimes.

Facts: None of the above. Teachers give students coats and sweaters. They know many kids are out all hours of the night, shuffled between caregivers to accommodate parents’ work schedules.  They know dinner for many students is fast food, often eaten alone.

Myth #5:  They assume kids are healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Facts: From administering an EpiPen to responding to epileptic seizures, teachers have to know much more than applying a Band-Aid to a paper cut. They are nurses, social workers, therapists, moms and dads.

Myth #6: They like to confiscate students’ possessions, like toys and phones.

  Facts: Having to take things from students is a huge distraction from teaching.  When the objects include knives and other possible weapons, it’s hard for other students and teachers to concentrate on the day’s lessons.

Myth # 7: They assume students know what to do in an emergency; after all, they’ve been practicing fire drills since kindergarten.

Facts: During tornadoes, teachers hide kids in closets; during bomb threats they escort them to safety; and during assaults from automatic weapons, they take bullets.

Next time your town’s school budget comes up for a vote, or your teachers’ contracts are up for renewal, think about these myths. And the facts.

CIMG1466My sister Madeline, a great teacher.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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18 Responses to Seven Myths about Teachers

  1. Thanks Lisa for the post. It is becoming apparent to us all we need to pay our teachers more and provide more emotional support. Our children spend a significant amount of time in their care. I marvel at my colleagues who provide support here to the students academically, The people who look out for them in the dorm. For the students on campus, we have a tremendous staff but we are still understaffed. Imagine the number of children in one elementary school. You need a full team to care for them. i think we have missed the opportunity to make our schools safe. Just imagine that a school is a community. A school should have a healthcare provider, a dentist, social workers and education support staff.
    But, what you just described makes it more apparent that the teacher is doing all of this and teaching too. Teachers have always been my heroes. I salute all those teachers, especially those who have put the safety of their students before their own.

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  2. When my daughter taught 2nd grade in California I couldn’t believe the long hours she worked: making displays for the room, planning interesting ways to teach a subject, planning parent-techer meetings and dealing with behind the scenes conflicts. I’m sure I don’t know half of it, but listening to her was certainly a “teachers have such easy jobs” myth buster.

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  3. karen r-w says:

    I wish I went to school where you worked to have these “facts” teachers! – I had some good teachers growing up but I’d have to say that unfortunately the majority fit more in the “myths” category. My best years were being home-schooled – my mother definitely met all of the “facts” criteria: she bought us coats, made us lunch, AND confiscated our toys! 🙂

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  4. As an ex-teacher I agree wholeheartedly! Don’t think they are paid nearly well enough.

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  5. Bravo Lisa! So very true… every single word. I am sending this to some teachers I admire. thanks!

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  6. Excellent piece Lisa.

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  7. Today I have been thinking more about what you wrote. I read it late last night….and want to add how demoralizing it must be for teachers in the public sector to be subject to the budget cuts and the negative political party rhetoric about public service employees as occurred in the battle to deny collective bargaining power in Wisconsin, and then to be subject to these rigid teacher evaluations that have been implemented in some states. I wondered whether you thought the
    UFT has been serving teachers well, in terms of building up respect for the profession, or has been counterproductive because it is seen as bending over backwards to protect their membership, even when teachers do not meet standards.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The unions are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place. In some districts they’re very strong and proactive; others strong and negative; and many very weak.

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  8. Coming East says:

    Amen, Lisa! Having been a teacher for many years, I absolutely know the facts vs. the myths. I still remember how angry it made me when my dad, upon hearing that I was going to be a teacher, said, “Oh, that’s a nice little job for a housewife.” Many people still don’t know how hard a teacher works.

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  9. tchistorygal says:

    Nice advocacy piece for teachers! Thanks for writing it! 🙂

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  10. Thank you for speaking out! My husband is a school librarian, and he goes in early and is rarely home before 6PM. His days are planned down to fifteen minute segments, and because he does special activities for kids–book club, chess club, turn off the TV week, a book exchange for kids who can’t afford to buy books, grant writing for special school projects, etc.– he barely has time to eat his lunch. He manages to fit in some extra special activities, like the time he saved a child’s life when she was choking on a doughnut hole, by administering the Heimlich Maneuver.
    I can’t understand why teachers are depicted as villains every time there is an economic downturn, simply because they want bargaining rights, just like everyone else. Usually what they are asking for is a smaller class size, which is better for kids. Or to have some say in curriculum, instead of letting businessmen who know nothing about education privatize every aspect of public education. I could go on, but I will spare you! Hurray for our teachers!

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    • Thanks, Naomi. And bravo to your husband– librarians do great work helping kids (and adults) experience the joy of reading. I’m not sure when the “teachers as villians” became popular– certainly when I grew up there was none of that attitude.

      On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 1:48 AM, cyclingrandma

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