Often, especially early in my teaching career, I’ve felt as if I was just a clog in the education system or maybe just a type of resource for the education system to use. I’m a resource because I have certain qualities and skills the system needs and can use. The system decides how to use its resources (me) to its best advantage. I really have little say in how the system uses me. Oh yes, I get to fill out that little piece of paper to tell administration what classes I would prefer to teach but the fine print say that might not happen. I might be asked to teach something I’m not qualified to teach because that’s what I’m needed for. For example, because I good with kids who are academically at risk, I was assigned to teach cooking to a grade 10 class of academically at risk students. They could barely read. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t qualified to teach cooking, the system needed me to teach cooking because the real cooking teacher wasn’t good with academically at risk students. The system needed a peaceful class (no problems for admin) so I got placed in the cooking class. Teaching that cooking class was so scary because most of the time I had no idea what to do. I thought I’d die when just after a class on knife safety, one of my students cut his finger. I was so mad that I had to teach the class, I gave the poor lad a paper towel and told him to go to the office and not drip blood all over the floor. Talk about empathy!!! I felt badly afterwards and apologized to the student. I felt badly for myself too. I could have refuse to teach the cooking class. I could have said no, but then I wouldn’t have a job. I would be a resource the system had no use for. Thankfully, I only had to teach that class once. There have been lots of examples in my career when I felt as if the education system treated my like a resource. Thinking back I’m beginning to wonder why I loved teaching so much.
Do you ever feel as if you are a clog or a resource used by the educational system? Do you think that’s just the way it is or do you think we could change the education system so it doesn’t treat teachers like a resource?
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