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Waiting For Spring Break

Two days to Spring Break. I can’t wait.

For anyone dreaming of becoming a teacher for the cushy hours and summers off, I’d like to suggest you reconsider. Yes, I am given weekends off, but don’t think that means I don’t work. It just means I don’t get paid. Deadlines are deadlines. Yes, I am given national holidays off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t work. It just means I don’t get paid. Deadlines are deadlines.

And that summer I get off? It takes the first several weeks to quit drooling and trembling. I snap awake in the mioddle of the night in panic over some imaginary un-met deadline. Then I relax for a week, maybe two, and suddenly it is time to start gearing up to go back. On average, teachers start the school year about a week and a half before the time clock actually starts ticking.

Teachers are expected to teach while they are in the classroom. We are actively engaged with the students. Btw, that’s one teacher to 30 or so students — and we are expected to have them all doing the same thing, at the same time, while behaving like saints, despite the fact that their parents can’t get one or perhaps two of them to sit still for 5 minutes and do their homework each evening.

Paper grading and lesson planning is done pretty much on our own time. And all that time we give for free — and the fact that we work very closely all day with the one thing that parents should value most in all the world — for the most part earns us only contempt.

I need a vacation, but I have report cards due right after Spring Break. Sigh.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Quilly, I hope you enjoy your spring “break”. I recognize your complaints, and I sympathize. But may I ask, have you worked a professional role in a large corporation?

    It’s sort of along the lines of… work til 9pm each night out of fear of being fired and then getting told you’re falling behind… work weekends without overtime because you’re TOLD to, not asked… and getting exactly 10 days a year off work, but never all at once or when you planned/needed them.

    IMHO the problem with teaching wouldn’t be the hours (who works 40 hours a week in North America?) but would be the parents. Having them blame you for the children that they raised would be more than I could take. I’d rather tell my boss I’m taking the weekend off inspite of his five million dollar deadline!

  2. Morgan — first. Perhaps only. My hits keep falling.

    And those corporate execs do get treated badly, but they also get paid a living wage. Trust me, none of them would on what I do.

    However, my rant wasn’t really about the hours or the pay. It was about attitudes. I was in the store last night and a woman said, “Oh, you’re a teacher! You don’t really work, then.” And she is still sitting on my last nerve.

    I would very much like to see her spend 6.5 hours in a small room with 30 young people and get them all to do the same thing, at the same time, respectfully and quietly, and convince them to enjoy it.

  3. I hope you find time to relax on your vacation and it gets here soon. I am looking forward to my vacation. Burned out to a crisp I am. This is why I am not posting lately, just too tired and fed up to do anything with a computer once the one at work is turned off.

    A wonderful day is wished for you

  4. AMEN! You truly are THE most underappreciated lot on the planet, I think! Used to be when tongues started wagging at Curves and discussions to turned to those AWFUL teachers, I could step up to bat and set ’em straight. Now, since I WORK there, I have to bite my tongue! My tongue is awfully sore, let me tell you!

  5. Bill — OC will be here for part of my vacation. I am pretty sure that part won’t inculde any work. In fact, I’ve snuck in an extra day off, but don’t tell anybody.

    Melli — my Curves is full of teachers, so I am not subject to teacher bashing there. I geneally just smile at people and suggest they try my job for a day. Most of them would end up under the desk in tears before lunchtime — especially if the kids had any idea they were insecure.

  6. Quilly, I’ve said before, I don’t understand how come ANY teachers work in this environment. I’d say “nationwide strike” – but that would only suit the purposes of the rich, who would find scabs to teach their children, and leave everyone else SOL. Sometimes, social responsibility bites.

  7. my mother is a retired primary school teacher so i know pretty well what you’re talking about… this seems a universal issue.

  8. OC — for the most part I love my job. It puzzles me why people so under-value the people they trust their children to. Whenever I hear somebody griping about the cost of schools, education, and teacher’s salaries, I automatically wonder why they don’t want the best for their children.

    Polona — some cultures do respect their teachers. I’d like to see the world get along without us — especially the U.S., there would immediately be a huge daycare crisis and gang violence would escalate horrifically.

  9. Oh my, you do need a break. I understand the feeling so well. This has been a challenging new year, place a carrot in front of you and just keep going! 🙂

  10. QD, I SOOOOO understand.

    There were weeks on end when I would be doing 12-15 hour days and working 7 days a week for little thanks. I’d have to teach all day and then go straight to the theatre for my drama students’ major production. And then the parents would arrive LATE to collect their children and complain about the amount of time they were spending at the theatre and how this was such a drain on their time and not worth their effort. But if I didn’t do it, then they’d verbally beat me up for not providing opportunities to extend their children.

    Luckily, those parents that actually SAW their children perform finally appreciated the work. But they still didn’t thank me for the hundreds of additional unpaid hours I put into making their children more empathetic and respectful.

    And then I had to write all their reports.

    You can understand why at the moment, I have no desire to stop being a stay-at-home-mum. At least I don’t get grief and backchat in this valuable job (yet).

  11. Pauline — feeling tired and ineffective takes a toll, and those carrots wilt after awhile!

    Dr. John — I know, but right now 3:30 tomorrow seems a lifetime away!

    Helen — yeah, those are the exact kind of things that make good teachers quit. Stay home, the job you’re doing there will make some teacher’s life easier, anyway!

  12. I am happy!? First day of Spring Break, my windows are open, my curtains are washed and re-hung and I am thinking about firing up the BBQ to cook my ground sirlion.

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