BASS: Dear son: I’m sorry my job as a teacher has affected you
I received a letter this week from a teacher in Kamloops. He’s been teaching for several years and has a couple of kids in the system.
He loves his job and is dedicated to helping his students achieve their goals — so much so that a student thanked him recently for helping her win a scholarship she really hoped to receive.
He was thrilled, of course, but started wondering why he couldn’t do as much for his own children as he has been doing all these years for his students.
As he put it, “I thought of all the other ways my students get my best and first efforts and my family gets my last and weakest.”
Isn’t that the mark of a teacher? Someone so dedicated that he’ll go the extra mile to make sure students — his students — excel.
This teacher/dad wonders if anyone is doing the same for his kids since he’s not there all the time.
Sure, he may drive them to their games, but he’s not the coach. Maybe he’s a coach of his students at school but, when it comes to his own kid’s activities, he’s on the sidelines, marking papers and looking up every now and then, hoping to catch you score or at least see him wave to you.
This teacher continues: “I’m also sorry that, when I’m home, I often haven’t switched out of teacher mode. You don’t get a dad, you get another damned teacher, sitting right there at your dinner table. Your friends get to escape school for a while each day; you don’t.
“I know I’m always nagging, correcting, pressuring and prodding you to do more as a student; I should be enjoying your childhood and adolescence with you, while we’re all together at home.”
This teacher is sorry he’s not making enough money to afford to send all of his kids to college or university.
Again, he writes: “Hopefully, other teachers and family members will pick up the slack and get you where you want to go. I can help with your homework, but I’ll never be able to pay for even one full tuition. You’ll have to get student loans, bursaries and work your way through, same as me. I don’t envy you that task because I found it to be a huge effort and a huge cost both financially and emotionally.”
Then we get to the crux of this dad’s issues. He’s sorry his kids hear that he’s “lazy and greedy.
“You hear that I’ve got a lot of nerve to ask for a raise, job security, and improved classroom conditions when I only work 35 hours a week and get summers off.
“You hear them say that I don’t live in the ‘real’ world. I’m sure you wonder how people can say that when I don’t take the time to teach you to drive, or go fishing, until the summer vacation.”
Let me insert here that it makes me crazy to hear others say teachers have it so good, short days and all summer off.
My husband teaches — albeit at the university — and I can’t count the number of nights and weekends he’s spent in his office marking assignments, grading tests, prepping for classes, researching to ensure he’s teaching his students the most current and best.
Teaching is so much more than just teaching.
Back to this teacher, though:
“Mostly I’m just so sorry that you get an exhausted, perpetually sick, cranky guy to live with. I often come home to you having not taken a break of any kind all day. Working with teenagers all day is really hard to do, both physically and mentally.
“Arriving home to a house full of teenagers seems like more work and it shouldn’t.”
Sometimes these labour issues get drowned out by the rhetoric on both sides, by the stridency of unions and management and we forget there are really great people who just want to do their jobs.
This is a teacher who cares deeply, who loves his jobs and wants his students to soar. But, he knows even as he succeeds, he’s failing.
He’s a good teacher. The public may see him as a money-grabbing whiner — but he’s the kind of teacher they really would want for their own kids.