Testimonial #5 – Math Teacher

Testimonial #5

What does a teacher do?

I have had many reasons this school year to reflect on my purpose and how I spend my day. Every day is completely different and filled with challenges and victories.  As I reflect on just yesterday, I began the day attending the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting at 7:45 AM, then I conferenced with 2 students on a paper they are writing (yes, in math), I touched base with colleagues about struggling students, and I gave out make up work to students who have been ill.

Once the bell rang and the school day started, I taught my classes while in the back of my mind I grieved over grades – I have many students that are struggling for many different reasons.  I know that I have to stay in contact with their parents about their progress (all grades are posted online and all papers are usually graded within 24 hours.  My heart breaks because I know that some of the students are just in over their heads, some students are just not willing to try, and I have one student that looks at me every day to tell me that what I teach is pointless.

Later in the day, I had an in-depth conversation with a student about integrity and character. She ended up in tears and I spent time consoling her.  She is overwhelmed.  Fifteen years old and life is too much. This time in my day is priceless and will teach life-long lessons.

Throughout a typical school day I have the privilege of reaching about 100 kids and I take that very seriously.  My job can only be done successfully through relationships, and it takes time to build relationships.  I choose to take every opportunity to connect with my students on a personal level because I truly care.

I could write for hours about how important my job is to me and how I know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The current challenge is that I have suddenly realized that I do all that I do with minimal resources and now those resources are about to be decreased.  I have a heavy heart thinking about how I can possibly do more with even less.

Just to clarify, when I mention resources, I don’t mean that I want more money. 

I didn’t choose teaching for the money and anyone that knows me knows that I actually view doing more with less as an exciting challenge in my own household.  I am talking about time and professional resources. Our curriculum in the state of VA has changed drastically over the past 5 years and we have not gotten updated teaching materials/textbooks since 2005.  Can you believe that I actually rely on “google” to find some of my best activities?  I used to be so proud of the things that I found but recently when I realized that that was really my only option for resources I was stunned.  Can you imagine being a new teacher and not having any resources?

The other major resource is TIME.  One of the budget proposals in Hanover is to have teachers teach an additional class.  I already bring home 10+ hours of work a week in addition to arriving early and staying late at school.  I can’t imagine how much more work I would have to do outside of the school day by adding 26 more students and another class.  I spend roughly 40 percent of my non-teaching time at school working with students individually.  When would these students get the one on one attention that they need?

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that I had more time to work on lesson plans, contact parents and get ahead on grading. 

Now, I have to be concerned that I will have even less.

–A high school math teacher in Hanover County

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