You could say I work in education, but in reality I haven't been in a classroom in years. I am devoted to student improvement, advances in public education, and quality assessments, but I don't even have a degree in Education. You may have guessed it- I work in education technology. More specifically, I'm the person you call when you need to create custom reports using student data, or when you need to make calls to parents without revealing your personal phone number. Sometimes, I'm the person you call at 2 am when you just can't get logged into your account. I don't judge, believe me- I get locked out of my bank account occasionally. I think it's my subconscious trying to protect me. Nevertheless, in my time working at SchoolStatus, I've learned a lot by being behind the scenes helping teachers. Whether it's data that your principal wants, standardized testing, or parent teacher conferences, a teacher’s job is NEVER done. But you already knew that. It's cliché to even say it. Let's be honest, you're probably reading this hiding in a bathroom stall. Here are just a few stray observations that I have picked up about teachers these last few years:
1. You work late.
This is an understatement. It's hilarious/ridiculous to me when people think teachers actually get done with work at three pm. Sometimes it seems like you may actually be working around the clock. When do you sleep? Do you sleep? What is this sorcery?! I get calls from teachers at all hours of the night, and then from the same teachers the minute my eyes open. Why are you up all night? My time with you tells me it's because you care. You care if the lesson plans you are putting together are going to fall flat. You care about that student that hasn't been in class the last three days. You care about YOUR kids. I have an unending amount of respect for that, because I remember what it feels like to be cared about by a teacher. It matters. And I think it's safe to say that very few other careers carry the same amount of personal and emotional weight for the individuals who choose to pursue them.
2. You work all weekend.
Well, probably not ALL weekend, but a dang good bit of it. I hear from many of my teacher friends that they need to run up to the school for a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon. Or just grade "a few" papers on Saturday morning. Let’s be honest, it is never just a few minutes. It is never just a few papers. I’m just trying to get my Sunday brunch on, and I need someone to share this pitcher of mimosas!
3. You have no extra time.
No, you don't even have ENOUGH time. Time management is critical for you. Anything that shaves a few seconds off here or there is a lifesaver. At SchoolStatus, we definitely try to help out with this as much as possible. Shameless plug here: like with Channel and the Dial app, for instance. You have parental contact information literally in the palm of your hand. No searching in the SIS and then finding a place to make a call. That is a lot of seconds being saved. Boom. Time for mimosas.
4. You wear A LOT of hats.
I never realized how many hats, actually. At any given moment you are expected to be data analyst, mentor, nurse, mediator, bus driver, coach, magician. The list goes on. This is an incredible thing to me, and another point I think is often misunderstood when people think about teaching as a profession. "Oh, you get summers off! That must be nice! I'm so jealous!". Shyeah, right! Working tech support, I can tell you that calls may slow down in the summer, but they certainly don't stop. That's because while your classroom may not be full of students, you probably have two or three (or even more) OTHER duties to attend to.
5. You are beyond creative.
This blows my mind. In addition to being able to 'hack' nearly anything, teachers are constantly finding ways to use our software that we didn't even know about. For example, if you are excited about the ability to add audio files to a student card in SchoolStatus, you can thank Sharon Hoye and Stephanie Cotnam and Laura Evans and probably a bunch of other incredibly talented educators at Scott County School District for innovating the way they monitor improvement in reading. Maybe it comes from having to do so much with so little, but your ability to 'MacGyver' your classroom is inspiring.
6. You get really excited about free swag (probably because you aren't paid enough).
Bring on the hats and t-shirts! Conferences are one of the best times to stock up on anything you can dole out as student bribes. Cue the Oprah GIF. “And you get a color changing cup! And you get a color changing cup! And you get a color changing cup!" Seriously though. Hollar at me. I'll send you a color changing cup.
7. Your performance is really important to you.
Working in education, you realize really quickly that everything is constantly evolving and changing. Methods, assessments, buzzwords and jargon. Good grief at the jargon! I can speak it pretty well now, but in the beginning, I might hear a sentence that literally sounded like, "Across spatial and temporal scales, ss dis aggregate compelling, holistic, and intersegmental culminating products as part of a visionary top-down trans-disciplinary perspective."
What? Is that English? What does that even mean?
And on top of that, you are expected to be up to date, and improving ALL THE TIME. At SchoolStatus, we do try and help with that. In order to make sure you are growing as a teacher, performance feedback is truly important. Our teacher evaluation app, Feedbak, makes it easy for you to keep up with your observations and have a conversation with your administrator. And I know that's important to you. I know that because when evaluations are uploaded from the app, our usage rates go WAY UP. Which is great. You care about your performance. I truly believe the best teachers do.
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8. Students are more than just numbers to you.
With so much focus on testing and proficiency scores, and yada yada yada, it may seem from the outside looking in that students are just little test takers to educators. I know from speaking to you everyday, that couldn't be further from the truth for you. They are lives that you are directly affecting. They are people that face adversity just like any of us. Not only do you get to be there for them, you see it as a privilege. You get to help mold our future.
9. You take your summers seriously.
Well, what little of them you do actually get. I figured this out by watching my friends re-emerge back into the world each June. I've seen you regain somewhat of a social life for a couple of weeks during the summer. It's not long- but for a tiny bit of the summer, you are the life of the party. You make the strongest drinks, smile the biggest, and tell the best stories. That happiness can't be faked. I've seen it. Regardless of the bedraggled manner in which you slide into the end of the year, the fact that you love what you do couldn't be more obvious.
10. You are AWESOME.
I doubt many people truly know how much blood, sweat, tears, and coffee goes into being an educator. It takes a special person to do what you do, and to do it well. My hat is off to you. To all my friends who are teachers, to all the teachers I help everyday at SchoolStatus, to all the teachers out there I haven't met; I appreciate you. I applaud you. And I want you to know, I'm still learning from you. Cheers.
Robert Reeder works on the Ops team at SchoolStatus as an Integrations and Support Specialist. If you've ever talked to him on the phone, you know he is the go-to problem solver at SchoolStatus and an all-around sweet dude. To find out more about what Robert helps educators do, click here.