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.
My sister Madeline, a great teacher.