Cheers to teachers: I don’t know how they do it!

I am completing my sixth week of teaching a college-level journalism class, and it is so much harder than I had expected.

I expected my first semester teaching to be difficult because I knew there was some material I needed to study and also knew I would have to create my lesson plans. But it is taking so much more time than I had anticipated to gather everything that I want to share with the class and make sure I have my materials exactly how I want them.

I also didn’t anticipate how long grading would take. I am spending every weekend grading their blogs, their edited photos and videos, their social media plans, and their essays examining different media presentations.  It is literally taking at least eight hours to grade each week. And then you have to get it all into the grade book.

I am not sharing this to complain. I am sharing it to PRAISE all the teachers out there! I don’t know how they do it and get anything else done! (My house is a mess and my lovely meals have become very sad. Michael is missing all my homemade stuff. Everything is half-a@@D now.)

I am only lecturing four hours a week. I can’t imagine having to create lesson plans to fill five hours a day, five days a week!

And I can’t imagine how a teacher new to a grade pulls it all together. I would need a whole year just to prepare! I would never switch grades! (Me kicking and screaming in the principal’s office: No you can’t make me switch grades!! I have my lesson plans!)

I posted on Facebook last Sunday that I had spent the whole day, outside of church, grading and was finally putting everything into the electronic grade book. All my teacher friends chimed in: Welcome to my world!!

I am lucky to have found another adjunct who is very kindly sharing a lot of his planning and materials with me so I can see how he is teaching it. (He’s been teaching the class two years so he really knows what he’s doing.)

Are all teachers sharing materials on It’s the greatest thing ever!

I love, love, love being in the classroom and being with my students. They are so smart, creative and really amazing. But the prep and grading is just much harder than I expected.

So what do you think: Is teaching more time consuming and harder than people think? How do teachers get everything planned and prepared every day? Are the schools telling them how to teach it or are they having to reinvent the wheel?

If you are a teacher, how much time are you spending planning and grading? What is the most time-consuming part for you?

Am I having a hard time because this is college-level material? Would grade-school be easier or harder to prepare for?

46 comments Add your comment


September 23rd, 2011
7:04 am

Ah, Theresa, Theresa, Theresa! What can I say? Where can I start?

I’ve taught from college to nursery school. The elementary grades are much, much harder than college-level. Your students CHOOSE to be there. They have mastered a few basic skills. Think about that simple fact.

And, while they have problems, you are not required to watch for abuse (you must report it!), neglect (you must report it), nor, do I think, your students’ parents play much of a role in what you are doing. You have a (relative) cream of the crop.

Teaching elementary school requires hours of planning and grading in addition to the 7-8 hours you are with the students. (Where did you get the five hour notion?)

In addition, you create your own syllabus (or cop the one from the other teacher) and you have virtually complete autonomy in your classroom. K-12 teachers do not. They are told who, where, and HOW to teach, even if it does not work for your particular class. (The idea you can use lesson plans from year to year–how quaint!)

The difference between teaching college students and 7-9 year olds (other teachers fill in other ages here) is night and day. As I said, I have done it all. (Never taught 10-12 grade, though. I am sure there are significant challenges there also.)

Others will help you understand more–gotta go!

Democratic Plantation Dweller

September 23rd, 2011
7:25 am

The stimulus is working ! Obama is doing a wonderful job!


September 23rd, 2011
7:30 am

I’m not a teacher, I’m an engineer, I became an engineer because I did not have the talent to be a teacher! I found this out while trying to help my best friend with her algerbra class when we were in high school, I could do the work myself, but had no idea how to explain it so she could understand! The teachers that are out there that really want to be teachers and use their talent are way underpaid, and under appreciated. A lot of people in the working world think because teachers do not “work 8 hours a day, and get summers off” have a gravy train job, NOT SO, and this is coming from a non teacher. That said, the problem is that the good teachers suffer from the ways of the bad teacher, i.e, the ones who do not care, and should not be teaching. We need to appreciate the ones who are good teachers, and help the ones who are not to get out of the profession. Easier said than done, however. Thank you, to all the good teachers that my children had, and for those few that weren’t I hope you find another profession!


September 23rd, 2011
7:31 am

Amen to praising the teacher for all the unrecognized and unappreciated outside-the-classwork effort that goes on in their world. One warning, though – when a first-year teacher I also longed for that second and third year when I would have my lesson plans all set and no longer have that prep time in front of me. But I found out it just plain doesn’t work that way for the good teacher. Oh yes, there are parts that can be used. But classes differ based on the students abilities and motivation. No two years of Algebra II or American History 300 are the same. Lesson plans need to be adjusted, rewritten, and assignments altered. New tests reflecting those adjustments also, must be done. So simply an observation based on personal experience – if you are to continue your enthusiastic approach to the profession, don’t promise your spouse more home-cooked meals in the future during the school year.

Old School

September 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

During the 36 years I was a high school CTAE instructor, each of my classes was mixed grade (9th – 12th), mixed experience (beginners thru all 4 years), mixed interest (chose the class, assigned to the class, even sentenced to the class), mixed skills (readers, non-readers, special needs, gifted, etc.). Try preparing for board drafting, beginning thru advanced AutoCAD: technical drafting, architectural drafting, 3D Modeling, landscape drafting, land surveying….
Then, try adapting all that (remember this is per class period) to meet the demands of the state & local standards, expectations of an Advisory Committee, national Industry Certification, and the needs of area employers. Toss in dealing with parents and difficult students, required extra curricular duties (SkillsUSA, chaperoning prom, professional development, state vocational conferences…) and that’s only part of it. The same expectations placed on academic teachers who get to teach ONE subject to each class were placed on us.
I took the exam for Architectural Drafting that has probably been adopted for Georgia high schools and too many of the terms in it were more regional than universal. Try preparing your students for that as well as all of the above.
Some how I managed but am I ever so happy to be retired now!


September 23rd, 2011
7:50 am

As many know…I have taught Pre K ,Kinder and 2nd grade. I also teach adults. Teaching children is much more physically exhausting. I also teach EVERYTHING I HAVE DEVELOPED MYSELF. It is much harder to develop your own material than to teach what you are given: Here are the fifty states and now we will learn the capitals and major cities in each state.

I compare it to me following recipes from cook books…I can do that…or me being on Food Network and having to come up with my own things…NO WAY. Last week, I had a teacher say to me…
” You have created all this yourself? It is amazing!” I LOVE WHAT I DO. TWG congrats on finding something you enjoy!

I am thrilled that I have NO grading!

My neighbor is a brilliant woman who has worked for the Pentagon and Huntsville Aerospace. She has three lovely children. She is now teaching HS Physics. I love to talk to her as she has told me so many times…” I had NO idea what is was like in the classroom…so many things I did NOT know.” I just want to hug her when she says this.

Not trying to step on anyone’s toes here but just going to a job each day IS different than being at home. I am home for weeks every year and am SO much more relaxed than when I have to be at a different school each day and also meetings for teachers. I work 7 days a week many weeks out of the year but am also OFF for about 15 weeks per year ( no pay) and it is then when I can actually catch my breath. I DO get crazy when I am home too long… I need to be out of my house and with other people!

catlady… I hear you are joining me next week with the children? I look forward to it. I met with Denise on M and we had fun. TWG…thanks for providing me with new and interesting friends!


September 23rd, 2011
8:02 am

In fairness…teaching what I have developed myself is much easier for me, than to teach something I could never learn such as what OldSchool has mentioned!


September 23rd, 2011
8:08 am

Good for you! While it’s hard, you are learning so much from this experience, and your kids are, too! I am in a similar situation right now–part time employed/part time stay-at-home mom. I love how it’s stretching us as a family and how it’s enriching my brain. If I have time to think about it (hehe) I realize I’m getting the best of both! Hats off to you!


September 23rd, 2011
8:19 am

I am excited about it, MJG! Hoping I get new ideas from you on engaging students. I will probably also volunteer to read at my daughter’s school that day–I have done that for 3 years now. It’s a kick to see how different her kids are from my Title 1 school’s kids in behavior, questions asked, engagement, etc. Well worth a day of personal leave!

And, she......

September 23rd, 2011
8:21 am

…only teaches ONE class PART TIME…sheesh, what a crybaby…

And, thanks to all the REAL teachers out there that have made this their life’s work – we salute you and praise you and thank you for your contributions to everyday society, for which you receive far to little recognition – thanks for caring about my kids (when they were in school)…


September 23rd, 2011
8:42 am

God help those kids. The stupid being taught by the liberal blind.

Miss Priss!

September 23rd, 2011
8:44 am

Teach manners and respect to 8th grade catholic school girls if you want to earn your money. Or try to.


September 23rd, 2011
8:46 am

I’m an engineer, I became an engineer because I did not have the talent to be a teacher!

I’m not sure what kind of “engineer” you are, but I’m a real engineer, and have the ability to teach if necessary, and have done so, but not the patience.

It’s not really “talent” one needs but the willingness (yes, voluntary, I said it!) to accept average/below-average pay and nonsensical administrative policies along with society’s ills in the form of children.

I have a friend, however, who teaches in a private school and does not have these issues. The children come from better homes and are brighter and more interested in learning than those in government-based schools.


September 23rd, 2011
8:48 am

I have been blessed enough to experience my children having great teachers. To be totally honest, I think bad teachers are not as common as many believe. I think that in K-12 there is just so much pressure for the teacher to produce certain results based on testing (CRCT) yet there is so much more that goes on through the year that they just don’t get credit for. My daughter does well throughout the school year but gets severe test anxiety. Do I think her teacher should be punished if she scores a little below average on the test? NO!! Also, I have began my volunteer hours for my son’s school and have been helping the teacher assemble weekly alphabet books. That stuff takes TIME!!! I am only doing a small part of what she does everyday and the woman still has her own family and children to attend to and I really don’t know how she does it!

I do want to say something about college professors though. I have been in school now for a year and at least 2 out of every 3 instructors are just plain rude, unfair, controlling, and demeaning. Nothing person against you TWG, but I am starting to wonder if some instructors are just in it for some extra cash. Your students are taking your class to LEARN what YOU already know. So do them a favor, don’t belittle them in the process and be fair. I am an adult, please do not treat me as though I am an imbecile because I am attempting to obtain something you already have.


September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

I cannot even begin to imagine the requirements, time, dedication, etc., that one must possess in order to be a teacher. Obviously I cannot speak to the actual topic as I have not a clue but I will say thanks and give kudos to whose who can and do. What a sacrifice!

Tad Jackson

September 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT TEACHER: The Near Death of Literature

When I was in 10th grade I had Literature for 6th period and it just about killed me.

Whoever decided on what students to put in that class must have worked at the College Park jail because the moment I walked into sixth period on the first day of school I knew we were going to get into enormous quantities of trouble instead of learning enormous quantities about literature. I was really excited.

All the 10th grade misfits had been perfectly assembled—plus some new girl I didn’t know who already looked terrified. One kid in the class, a kid named Jerry, had always given me the impression he was a caged animal but looked like a human tenth grader. Then there was our class nerd, Jim, who was short and stubby, over in the front corner with his goofy briefcase we always stole from him between classes and put on the top of a brick wall so he couldn’t get it—but he always tried real hard to get it and he was always late for class. Every day.

I had no idea how you learned about literature. I figured you borrowed the Cliffs Notes from an eleventh grader. And from looking at this teacher with his mismatched shirt and tie and baggie pants and clod hoppers that looked like they saw action at Gettysburg … that’s when I knew I could get some good sleep before football practice.

Our teacher, Old Burrell Brownlow, passed out the book we were going to study. It was a book about two street urchins who float down the Mississippi River on a log raft. Oh, boy … we were going to learn the deeper literary meaning of why two street urchins would want to float down the Mississippi River on a log raft written by a guy who was using a fake name. I wondered how much money my parents were paying for me to go to this nice school.

Old Burrell taught the book by standing in front of the class while he read from the book word for word for word. He never wrote anything on the chalkboard. He had three posters on the cinderblock walls. That was it. It was old school.

While he was reading, every once in a while he’d stop and lift his head and pontificate about the literary significance of something in the story like a cow. Then, every once in a while, Old Burrell would stop and ask us what we thought of what he just read. We’d wake up and look at each other and giggle. You could tell Old Burrell thought the school wasn’t paying him enough money to teach at this nice school.

After about two days we got to the point where we had had enough of the deeper literary meaning of some dumb book written four hundred years ago and we needed some real excitement in Old Burrell’s sixth period Literature class. So I enthusiastically concocted a plan where Jerry, who was a fearless running back on the junior varsity football team, was to run across the room and jump up in the air and fly in the air for a good while and then dive on Jim and they would go tumbling onto the floor. Several of us agreed that was a wonderful plan to liven sixth period Literature class up. We really loved the plan’s elegant simplicity.

I remember Jerry asked me if I wanted him to do it while Old Burrell was reading from the book. Jerry was serious. I told Jerry, very slowly, with mild hand gestures so I wouldn’t spook him, that we wanted him to jump on Jim the next time Old Burrell leftthe room. No one thought to volunteer for the role of locking the door behind Old Burrell while we partied.

So the day came where Old Burrell was doing his usual—reading from the dumb book, word for word for dang word—and all of a sudden he says he’ll be right back. It was almost as if Old Burrell was in on it. He didn’t say why he was leaving the classroom. He just walked out the door … with the book in his hand. I figured Old Burrell had to go to the toilet. I know I did.

Without thinking, because Jerry was an action man and not a thinking man, Jerry instantly leaped out of his desk and started running across the front of the classroom toward the nerd Jim. On that day, however, Jim had brought with him a huge bottle of cough syrup and he had it standing up on his desk. Jerry grabbed the desk, with Jim in it, and flipped it over and then jumped on Jim as if Jim was on fire and Jerry was saving him. That glass bottle containing a whole lot of cherry-colored cough syrup broke and a whole lot of syrup and broken glass got on the desk and on Jerry and Jim and into Old Burrell’s groovy shag carpet.

I jumped up into the aisle by my desk and started juking my arms around like an uncaged baboon. I felt wonderful. That new girl lowered her head and scrunched her shoulders up and seemed to be wanting to evaporate. The rest of us, in nice grey slacks and black Weejuns and button-down shirts and nice rep ties and navy blue blazers with the crest of one of the finest college preparatory schools in the United States of America on the left breast pocket, went nuts. Our mascot is the War Eagle.

Old Burrell walked back in, accurately analyzed the scene in one millionth of a second, and then headed down the aisle … toward me. I noticed his face was very red and he was baring his teeth and his eyebrows were way up on his forehead and his eyes were real big and Old Burrell was saying some awful things about me personally while spit was flying out of his churning sandwich hole.

Everybody else was screaming, too, but with a sense of fun and joy. Jerry and Jim were still squirming around on the carpet in the cough syrup in their blue school blazers. I convinced Old Burrell to not pull off my arms and legs and head. I also ended up committing unexpectedly to Old Burrell that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the greatest book ever written in the world and that Mark Twain knew things. This seemed to calm him.

In 12thgrade I had Old Burrell again for Literature. I think it was second period. He read Flannery O’Connor stories to us, word for word, which was fine with me, because Jerry finally got kicked out of school and now I was the class president and a member of the honor council and I was flying straight and wanted to get into a decent college. Old Burrell said one story of hers was really going to affect you. He read it. It did.

At the moment of grace in A Good Man is Hard to Find, I discovered what I thought might be my calling—good typing. I had no idea when I’d be called, but I kept my ears open for a long time after that. Thirty-one years later my first novel got published. I dedicated it to Old Burrell Brownlow. Now I’m a teacher, too, a reunited one, right across the hall from Old Burrell, but at a different school way across town. Where all day long I can hear him … still reading good stories.

LtCol Razorback

September 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

I think it all depends on at what level you are teaching and how you teach. For instance, I have a nine-year-old in the third grade (DeKalb County Schools). Her “teachers” don’t “teach” as far as I can tell. They give her homework and tell her to just “go home and do it”. When she gets home and tries to complete the assignments, the first words out of her mouth are, “I need help. I don’t understand this.” So, Daddy asks if her teachers explained how to do “it”. Invariably, the answer is, “No, she just told us to figure it out for ourselves.” Guess who ends up teaching her how to multiply, divide, write a simple sentence, or whatever?

A teacher’s job should be to actually teach, not to shift the work off onto the parents.

My suggestion is that you get a job with DeKalb County Schools. Do that, and lesson plans, grading papers, etc. will not be a problem.


September 23rd, 2011
9:22 am

@Tad ~ I really enjoyed that!


September 23rd, 2011
9:39 am

I was just telling someone this morning how I think it is so sad that teacher’s are so grossly underpaid. We trust them with our children 7 or 8 hours a day! It is so sad. Teachers have to spend their own money on work related supplies, take their own time out of school to prepare and grade papers, and have to deal with a wide range of children’s needs during the day.

Tad Jackson

September 23rd, 2011
9:48 am

oneofeach4me … thank you! And I did, too! Heh, heh!


September 23rd, 2011
9:56 am

To the real engineer: Wow, glad you have ability to teach! Here, where I work, I’ve taught classes too. I’m an engineer – least my title says that I am. But I know I’m not the best trainer/teacher. I don’t mind being up in front of a class of folks and sharing my knowledge with them.

But I acknowledge that that is not my forte. There are folks much better suited to do that sort of thing. I salute them. The other engineers that I work with? Same thing. They couldn’t get up in front of a group of people and train them. Definitely not suited for it. You have to have an aptitude for it.

Whenever I interviewed for a field service technician, I looked primarily for someone who had good customer service skills. I can teach (most people) to be technicians. I can’t teach someone to be a good customer service person.


September 23rd, 2011
10:22 am

So true. Preparing and grading are definitely time consuming. For teachers if you take their per hour pay and divide it up by the hours they actually spend on their teaching job, their pay is definitely too low.

Having to grade projects, tests and papers actually changes the types of projects, tests and papers you assign. I assigned my upper level math class a short research paper one time and then, when they turned it in, realized I now had to grade a research paper which is significantly different than grading math tests (answers are right or wrong). The next year, the paper was less formal so I could grade just the content and not the format.

Do you like the online part of your class? I love having my grades online and my assignments online too. As a parent and a teacher, it is great to have a single place for all the class information. As a teacher, giving online tests in science is wonderful because it grades all but the discussion questions for me. It can take a little getting used to in order to be the most efficient at entering grades. I try to keep on top of it so I’m not stuck entering a lot of grades at one time.

@Wayne – you are so right. Just knowing a subject does not make you a good teacher. There are people who are gifted at presenting topics in interesting and informative ways and not everyone has that talent.


September 23rd, 2011
10:29 am

@penguinmom: exactly!

Why did you have to go there......

September 23rd, 2011
10:53 am

…SOME teachers are underpaid, while MOST teachers are paid appropriately – we have already had this discussion –

But, again, teachers, thanks for all your efforts and services rendered as they are appreciated by my family and me (my wife comes from an extended family (mom, aunts, cousins) of approximately 11 teachers, mostly elementary school teachers for the hearing impaired)…


September 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

Teachers don’t just teach; that is why I couldn’t do it. They plan the lessons, teach, counsel, engage, entertain (sometimes), deal with issues and pressures from outside of the classroom (administration, parents, PTA, testing requirements, etc.), assess the progress of students (assign homework and projects and grade them), be available to students and parents outside of regular classroom hours via email or phone…I could go on. See, when I leave work after my 9 hours of work, almost every single day, I’ve left everything there. Sure sometimes folks call but those days are few and far between. (I’m not that important.) And I get paid a lot more than teachers. So I think teachers are underpaid because they have a lot more responsibility than we generally acknowledge. I don’t want any of it.


September 23rd, 2011
11:53 am

Whenever I pitch myself for an educational venue, I typically say this:

I not only know my (original) material and am able to share it in a fun and interactive method, I actually use the information I have developed with young children and am able to show your teachers how to do this. I do not create in an office all by myself and publish. I test what I develop.

Many folks are VERY intelligent ( not me) but are not able to share what they know in an interesting and engaging manner ( this I can do).

I find some teachers who would be better suited in other professions.

My son told me, on Monday, that he might like to teach Pharmacy. He also added that he will stick with retail for now, as he needs to earn some money to get going on his student loans and that he would have another year tacked on for teaching internships. I was surprised to hear this from him as he has never expressed this interest to me previously. He was able to tutor fellow students in HS, so perhaps that might be in his future. Who knows? I am the only teacher in my family and absolutely love being with children and most teachers. I am honored to be able to do something I enjoy and make money doing it!

Science Teacher

September 23rd, 2011
7:18 pm

Welcome to the wonderful world of teaching!! It is exhausting!! It’s not that any one thing is terribly difficult, it is just that there is ALWAYS something to be done. I teach elementary school science. I see EVERY child in our school (800+) on a weekly basis. I teach 6 different grade levels every day, which means 6 different sets of materials EVERY day. Because my position is not paid for by the county, our school raises money through a private Foundation to pay my salary of $26,000 with no benefits. I have a Master’s Degree in Science and could be making at least double if I were to take a regular county positionteaching middle school or high school , triple in the corporate world. Unfortunately, Science at the elementary level is not considered important enough to receive the same funding as art, music, or PE. I have very LONG days… I’m at the school for no less than 8 hours each day, and often spend weekends, summertime, and evenings doing additional work. I also have 2 school age children and a husband who travels for his job. I volunteer time for extra activities at school, and volunteer weekly in my community. Despite all of this, I feel as though I have the best job in the world. I get to share my love of science with some of the most incredible children you’ll ever meet. I started teaching because I thought that I could inspire young children… it turned out that it is the young children who inspire me.


September 23rd, 2011
7:40 pm

Ltc. Razorback
When was the last time you conferenced with you child’s teacher? Maybe it’s time to stop taking a 3rd graders word on the situation and deal with an adult. When will some of you parents wake up to the fact that kids, yes even your own, have been known not to tell the truth, or whole truth, when it’s in their best interest. In your daughter’s situation, it’s a good possibility that she was either not paying attention in the first place or to shy to ask for help. Do your daughter a big favor and go to the next parent teacher conference.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

September 23rd, 2011
8:15 pm

I concur with Dave on this one, Ltc. Razorback. Who remembers the proverbial “What did you do in school today?” question. Answer, everyone? “Nothing!” There is no way that your child’s teacher is just passing out work. None. Request a meeting with the teacher, and ask her about your child’s demeanor/behavior during lessons. I think you’ll find it’s as Dave predicted.

TWG, please keep preaching it to all you know! Thanks for posting this.


September 23rd, 2011
9:12 pm

I work in a bookstore. Not being from the south, I’m not really up with Southern writers. It was just suggested to me by a customer to read Flannery O’Connor. She told me to start with “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. I liked the story. It’s a very interesting read, but I admit, I don’t get the point of the stories so far. Wish I could sit in on a class that was discussing it. The woman who made the suggestion, (I believe she is a retired college professor.) gave me her business card and told me to write her if I had questions. I just might do that.

Gary Owen

September 23rd, 2011
9:41 pm

Thank a teacher for being able to read this article. I started teaching in the late 60’s and retired as an administrator in 01. I have seen much change and much of the change is not for the good. Oh yes it looks wonderful on paper but ask a teacher how it is really working out. Learning can not be legislated. To attract dedicated and involved teachers into the classroom give them the tools to discipline (which no longer exist for a classroom teacher), let the teacher teach not do paper work to justify what she/he is teaching, make discharging weak teachers easier. Zell Miller understands teachers. Zell Miller was and still a great friend to teachers and education. Parents support your child’s teacher. I grew up in the world of “what did I do to be punished in school”, not as it is today “What did that mean teacher do to you?” If you think teaching is easy go teach a class for six weeks. Walk a mile in our shoes before criticizing our profession.

Retirement is near.....

September 23rd, 2011
10:07 pm

WOW….double WOW. I cannot actually believe I read something positive about the teaching profession. I am about to faint. OK, I think I can do this. I have my composure back…….

Less than 4 semesters to go for me until I can hang this profession up for good. I don’t have the energy to write what I would like; it’s been a rough week. Thank you for the nice comments about a profession that can and does change lives in many, many ways. It’s unfortunate the profession does not receive the positive attention it deserves. My students know the positive influence I have had on them and their lives………that’s all I need to keep going until I retire. All of the junk behind the scenes means nothing to me. I just take care of my kids. PERIOD!


September 24th, 2011
1:31 am

To the author of this story: You sound like a wonderful teacher who is bent on perfecting your craft, bravo! However, to “Praise all the teachers out there ” is as foolhardy as a childs fantsy story book. I am certainly not a teacher basher, but lets get back to reality, shall we? I was raised by a mother who taught school. She was committed, as you seem to be. She spent countless hours working on class material, and grading papers at home after work. My grandfather was also an educator who started one of the finest prep-schools in America [right here in Georgia]. With all of this said, by in large, education in America is pathetic!…………The reason you ask? many of the very teachers you so praised participate in an unexcusable union mentality, they, like you see themselves as saviors.The true educators are parents, the better the sudent, usually the better the parent. Teachers, as good as some are sure to be, have turned out to be parasites, literslly taxing good people to death! Education has surely turned out to be the most expensive “works program” in the history of our country…………..You sound like a fine person, don’t get caught up in how wonderful you are, study hard in your spare time on the true differense between liberal and conservatism……..don’t just join-up with the liberals because it sounds right!………I challlenge you to look back at some “old school” methods of education that really taught children something………I further challenge you to be honest with yourself, ask God for direction, then go out there and teach your fanny off………..With highest Regards and all good wishes, RED

Sk8ing Momma

September 24th, 2011
7:16 am

Whine! Whine! Whine!

Teaching is a profession. Long hours, preparation and dedication are required. That is no different than many other professions. Being in the classroom is only part of the equation…The other part occurs “behind-the-scene.” That’s where the preparation and long hours come in. What’s the big deal??? I practiced law for 8 years before opting to be a full-time SAHM who has homeschooled her children for the last 8 years. I put *looooong* hours into my career as an attorney and I put *looooong* hours into educating my children. I’ve also taught outside of the home along the way over the last several years. Teaching well requires LOTS of work and preparation. So what?! Continue being a professional and continue to rise to the challenge.

Btw, I, too, believe that good teachers should be commended. I’m just annoyed with the fact that people are often “shocked” that teaching requires long hours and act like putting in long hours into one’s teaching career is an anomaly.


September 24th, 2011
8:31 am

Teachers today are unprepared because they themselves were taught by unprepared teachers. You see, somewhere along the way the proper teaching tools were discarded. If we would only bring back the two main teaching tools from yesteryear, (the dunce cap and castor oil), then our students could return to the number one spot in the global heirarchy of academic achievement, (we’re number hundert now), and we could all point to our flag and say: the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the curriculum of the educated!!!


September 24th, 2011
8:36 am

Sk8ting Momma- I doubt teachers extra hours for given salary is in the same ball park as lawyers hours and salaries…as might be indicated by your ability to homeschool…and that just opens up a whole other conversation…


September 24th, 2011
8:55 am

Teachers want to be treated as professionals
However, I

Chose to teach

September 24th, 2011
9:06 am

Without underpaid teachers, k-12, there would be no professions! Duh!!!

Hey Teacher

September 24th, 2011
9:11 am

To go back to your original questions — yes, teaching is much harder than people think, especially if you do it right and don’t just follow a script. It takes hours and hours of planning to put together a business presentation — yet we are supposed to put together 5 hour-long presentations A DAY (at the high school level where I teach) with a mere 45 minute planning period (oh, and that would include bathroom breaks, photocopying, calling parents and breathing time). I’ve been screaming for 24 years that we need more planning time, but administrators think that if we are left to our own devices we’ll be hanging out at Starbucks all day long.

The most time-consuming part for me is the record keeping – which includes grading. With 147 students, even a short quiz takes hours to grade and input into the grade book. I spend hours planning my lessons, but that is the fun part — and the reason I became a teacher. Documenting my e mails to parents because their little darling hasn’t turned anything in all semester is NOT fun, and is eating up more and more of my time.

Miss Priss!

September 24th, 2011
11:01 am

One advantage teachers have over all other people on Earth is that we get to see all the various candidates for the position of Antichrist, starting in kindergarten, and then we get to save the world by performing our academic and social skill improvement skills heroics.

You’re welcome.


September 24th, 2011
11:31 am

Many people have no idea of the emotional toll that working with 120+ children every day, their individual needs, (and their parents’) takes on a person. THEN add all of the other factors mentioned. I still love working with my kids, but after 15 years, I am so beaten down and tired of all of the criticism…

To add insult to injury, I could start an entry-level job at the giant insurance agency that is currently hiring for $10,000 more than I make with a M.Ed. and 15 years of teaching experience.

In my years of teaching, I can think of four truly dreadful teachers. Everyone, including administrators, knew who they were, but as one candid principal told me, “After years of documentation, they will still turn around and sue you. It’s just not worth it.”

Parents, your child’s teacher is there for your child. Work with them. Trust them. Support them. If you must look for someone to blame, look to the bureaucracy of each county’s central office, or higher up. We teachers are bound to go through the motions of each new educational plan than comes down the pike, and each year that equates to less and less time to plan for YOUR child.

Tad Jackson

September 24th, 2011
11:39 am


In the village of Jefferson, some young men had learned how to inhale “laughing gas.” Under its influence they would laugh, cry, roll over, jump about, make speeches, and do many amusing things.

—First Lessons in Georgia History, 1913

I’m yakking about something about Georgia history and say the word hell in a sentence and I wasn’t talking about heaven or hell or purgatory or anything. I actually cussed without thinking. So they go nuts about it and I just get up without saying another word and start to walk out.

They can’t believe it. Somebody screams … He’s kicking himself out! Throw the chicken at him!

I am kicking myself out. I really am. I walk out and close the door behind me and turn around and make a sad face through the window and then walk across the hall toward the benches. I’m already exhausted.

Already on one of the benches is a seventh grader named Mink who was in a lot of trouble at the first of the year … and then he calmed down for a few weeks … and now I’ve been getting the feeling lately that Mink’s cranking it back up again for a big end-of-days-Great Revival-apocalyptic-wrath-of-God hell raising.

He looks up at me and says he’s taking a self-time-out.

I said good for you. A mature decision. I sat down.

Mink looks at me and then he sees ten kids gawking at me through the window of The Cozy Room of Learning door and then he looks back at me. Mink asks what the heck are you doing out here.

I told him I kicked myself out of class.

Mink asked if I was kidding.

I said nope. I told Mink I just said a cuss word in class and I felt like I should kick my own teacher ass out of class since I’ve been kicking a lot of them out lately for cussing. They’ve been using the S-word a lot and very professionally, too. They’re real good at it.

Mink gave me a funny look. He said he’s never heard of that before. A teacher kicking his own ass out of class.

Lamely, I smiled at him.

Then we both took a deep breath and blew it out at exactly the same time.


September 24th, 2011
11:45 am

Tad Jackson

September 25th, 2011
9:12 am


The whirligigs were preposterous. John marveled at how much junk and energy had gone into making them.

—Georgia Curiosities, by William Schemmel

On the last day of the week of the first week of school we come to the undeniable case of Spike, the former seventh grader who is now an eighth grader who is an elf.

Spike was an elf in seventh grade and he is still an elf and he is ageless and changeless and brings fun and humor and mischief to the dreary world of the rest of us boring people. I have that certain funny feeling that we’ll come to the undeniable case of Spike every day this year.

This year, Spike has no more—or less—freckles. He still has a million of them. His head hairs still stand on their ends. Like a mood ring, the color of his eyes still change from blue to green when he gets worked up. His voice is still squeaky. Spike has grown to a height of ten inches.

He is constantly moving, picking at something on his flesh, thinking, pondering, brooding, calculating, prognosticating, anticipating, commenting. His eyes are always open and watching for opportunities to please. His manners are natural and wonderful and instantly make me feel better.

Outside, during breaks, he’ll have in his hands a string. Then the string will end up with two knots, one on each end. Then Spike will come show you how the string he’s been playing with might be used to save civilization from evil. In several different and believable ways. Just him and a string with knots. I don’t have a reason not to believe him.

He comes to school with a small ball covered with massage nubs. He also pulls out of his pocket a multi-colored plastic contraption that spreads out into a ring you can throw to your pals like a Frisbee. And when you’re finished throwing it to your pals you can squeeze it back and you can put it back into your pocket … but Spike doesn’t put it back into his pocket. He keeps playing with it in homeroom … while we’re having our big group meeting on Friday morning where the teacher sitting next to him … me … has to constantly ask him to put it in his pocket.

Spike doesn’t put it in his pocket. He puts it back there between the chair and his back. Next to his massage ball. Then he starts picking at something on his left leg with the metal ring of a pencil that would have held the eraser but the eraser has already been bitten off and the rest of it pulled out to be inspected and put to some use only Spike knows.

Spike brought to school this week a huge ball of yarn he keeps in his jacket pocket hand-warmer pouch and off of the huge ball of yarn he spins fibers between his fingers and in a few minutes he’ll have a sturdy braid and later when you look again he’s turned the braids into some kind of coaster or hair extension. Anything he makes he’ll happily give to you.

He is in constant motion. Small, quick, constant motions. He has bright, darting eyes. A quick smile. Always a Yessir and a Thank you and a You’re welcome. If Spike is not an elf he is a tree squirrel who drinks gallons of espresso.

I think he’s an elf who likes to act like a tree squirrel.

He recently, in another class, probably under the cloak of the desktop, came into the afternoon homeroom with dollar bills he had formed, origami style, into butterflies, onto which he had attached large paper clips so that when he placed the currency concoction above each ear the paper clips would also be inserted into the hair to they’d stay in place while we admired them. He moved his head from side to side. He was sitting in the desk with both legs underneath him.

This week, preparing the fall semester Georgia History syllabus, which the students sign, then becoming a contract, I’m asking them what three or four things can I do in the classroom as your Georgia History teacher this year to help you help me help you. I came to Spike.

Spike said he appreciated having study guides prior to tests; that he enjoys projects; he is delighted thoroughly and educated by going on lots of field trips; and he loves watching documentaries on the flat screen TV in the corner.

I can do that.

Spike is a one in a million billion 8th grader elf, who coats then soaks me with his personality every day, but he’s right in line with the rest of my historians on what I can do, seriously and syllabus-wise, to help him help me help him … God help us.

Before we went home today, in the last home room of the day, as they pack up and see me melt into an end-of-the-week giddiness and goofiness they like, I ask Spike what else I could do to help him succeed in school and in life and help me help him help me.

It’s as if Spike had been waiting for the question all of his life.

Spike immediately says he’d like to have spider legs that could pop out of his back and help him crawl across the ceiling.

I ask him, giggling, actually trying to keep the giddiness going … And anything else?

And he’d like to have the power of invisibility. In his elf voice, Spike says, he’d like to have the power of tele-por-tation. Spike says he’d like to have a long monkey tail grow out of the end of his spine that he can whip around.

You cannot deny this child. No one, of any age, can deny Spike his time in their face and life. So we burst out laughing and point at Spike and pat him on the back.

He sort of understands. Spike thinks the way he thinks is no big deal and wonders why we find him so sensational. I guess he really doesn’t mind anymore that we constantly gawk at him … in shock and awe and wonder.

It’s 3:15. Lurlene, our principal, screams from down the hall … LET’S GO!

Before Spike leaves for home and the first weekend of the school year, he out-of-the blue says to me with bright elf eyes and a smile … Do no da go hv i … pronounced, doh noh dah goh huh ee. Cherokee for Until we meet again. Something Spike learned as a seventh grader last year … four months ago … in my mid-afternoon study hall, Lunch & Squirm, and remembered across the span of a summer.

Until Spike and me meet again. That would be early Monday morning.

I can’t wait.


September 25th, 2011
12:44 pm

@Miss Priss – hilarious!

Miss Priss!

September 25th, 2011
3:36 pm


Many thanks. Dear, what I wrote is the God’s Honest Truth!

I’ve got a misfit who’s so purely evil that we could eliminate in our country our armed forces and just send this kid, all alone, to places like Iraq and Afghanistan and in a couple of hours he will have demoralized their soldiers and their governments so thoroughly that they’d surrender and never start a conflict again for fear that we’d send him back.

Let’s be real about some parts of our jobs as teachers. Sometime we’re prison guards. Sometimes we’re baby sitters. Sometimes we get some learnin’ in their heads. Sometimes.