Sunday, August 07, 2005

Back to Work

I'm forever grateful that America's educational roots were shaped by an agrarian economy. Else, I might be working all year with but a two-week vacation. People who dislike teachers are quick to point out the incredible time, off. They have a wonderful point. I work 185 days a year, barely half of the days available. Is there any other job that gives you that while still paying you year 'round?

Most of us teachers, including me, feel that in the end, it's fair. We aren't paid that well and the benefits aren't very beneficial. It's not much of a point to say that we often bring work home, thereby giving a bunch of extra hours to our district. Well, a lot of working people have an attache case crammed with "homework", so that point isn't especially valid.

To me, the best argument for justifying the time off is role of stress on the job. My school day is worth examining. I drive two bus runs, teach six straight classes, and have to use my only off period to drive the bus over to my first afternoon pickup. In the end, it's basically an eight-hour day. The problem is the incredible mental and physical toll of dealing with kids without a break. My lunchtime is 30 minutes, but you have to subtract from that escorting my 4th period class to the lunchroom...making my lunchtime more like 20 minutes. If you've ever taught a class of any description, remember how tired you were after 45 minutes? Could you do it 30 times a week?

So, my self-serving, totally biased view is that the huge chunk of off time is quite justified; and it serves to decompress and recharge us for the next nine months.

I start year #36 Monday. Please for me...that I might have the physical, mental, and emotional strength to survive another year. But mainly pray that I'll touch young lives by being a Christian model. I've never quite figured out why I've been "stuck" doing something I'd rather not do for this long. The only answer has to be the amazing potential for shaping the spiritual lives of children who don't know Jesus. The stakes are high...and souls could be won or lost depending on how I reflect Christian values. Again, please pray.

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