4 Delusions About Teaching

perception

I was once a student.

The perceptions I had of teachers seemed pretty reasonable and accurate to me at the time. I mean, as a little kid, it blew my mind when I finally realized that teachers actually didn’t live at school. Seeing a teacher out in public, at a mall or something, was akin to seeing an alien. It just didn’t make sense to my young mind.

After I finished being a student, I became an adult.

Then I thought I really knew about teachers. I mean, I went to school, I talked with them, I saw what their job was like. Shoot, the only thing I didn’t know about the teacher experience was actually what sitting on the other side of the desk felt like.

So I went back to being a student because I wanted to find out.

After a few years of teaching, I must say, I had it all wrong. Everyone who is not a teacher has it all wrong. There are many wrong perceptions of teachers out there. But, here are 4 that reveal the difference between perceived teacher experiences and the actual lived experience of a teacher.

 

  1. Teachers know everything

This is what I thought when I was a kid. I mean these teachers, after all, were teaching. The reason why they became teachers is because they know everything. If they were a History teacher, I assumed they knew everything about that subject. Same thing with my Math teachers and so on. But the reality is, teachers do not know everything. In fact, half the time, half the teachers are only a page or two ahead of students on the topic that they are teaching. But teachers always pretend to know everything. I can’t remember ever asking a teacher a question and getting “I don’t know” as a response.

  1. Marks are completely based on objective criteria

Bubble bursting time. That 97% you got in 11th grade Math was not purely based on some objective data that your teacher calculated. I mean, teachers do their diligence to make grading seem as objective as possible. But there is almost nothing in life that is objective. Less than 80 years ago, “Science” claimed that Black people were intellectually inferior to Whites. They had data to back this “fact” up. Before that, the earth being flat was an objective truth. Put into context, your high school grades were more the subjective opinions of what your teacher thought was important (and in a lot of cases, whether or not your teacher liked you) than any objective measure of true merit.

  1. Teachers’ only job is to teach

This is what a lot of adults think. Any time issues with teaching and education come up in the news, radio talk shows boom with citizen complaints hurling remarks that always boil down to, “What are they complaining about? They have the summers off, they end at 3 and all they have to do is teach.” Some mornings I wake up and pray that my only job as I head to school that day will be teaching. But the truth is, teachers wear many hats. Teachers are counselors, officers, coaches, and even friends. Additional to those roles, teachers do find time to teach.

  1. Teaching is a 8:30 to 3:30 job

Your child gets back their 5-page essay a few days after she completed it. On it there are annotations, an overall comment and feedback at the end, and finally, a grade. Your child is one of 30 kids in that classroom. Just when, exactly, did you think that teacher read, commented on, and graded an accumulated total of 150 pages of student work? The amount of “overtime” teachers do is incredible. Teachers spend many nights and take time out of their weekends in order to grade work, respond to parent emails, and prepare lessons for their next classes. They get paid until 3:30 p.m., but the job teachers must do in order to successfully run a class never ends that early in the afternoon.

 

These four are the things that come to the top of my head. But, I am sure there are many more.

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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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