Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Class Updates and Teacher Pride

Yesterday everyone in my undergraduate class received an email with our class updates. These weren't the ones that people bother to send into the official magazine. This was just for our class newsletter, which is published sporadically via email. They solicited updates from us earlier in the summer, and for days I tried to figure out what to write.

I went to a pretty good college. Not an ivy, but a lot of my classmates got into ivy schools but went to my college because of it's scholarships. I graduated with some very intelligent, driven, and well-connected people.

Those people now have incredible updates to submit. I read them with a glass of wine yesterday and tried to tell myself that I too have a good life.

Johnny became a partner at the Best Law Firm in Atlanta. After the birth of his twin daughters, he realized he wanted to give back to the community so he started his own non-profit where he is helping families with their legal paperwork. 

After completing both medical school and law school Sally was appointed by President Obama to the head the "save all children everywhere" team. Here s a picture of her and her gorgeous children vacationing in Spain. Her husband will be competing in Rio this summer.

Rachel just finished writing her eighth children's book, which will be on the shelves in November. When she isn't writing, she is managing the accounting firm she owns and keeping up with her twin boys.

After completing his time in the Peace Corps in 2006, Chris has been busy starting up nonprofits in the Charleston area with the help of his wife, who is completing her residency in pediatric surgery. 

In trying to decide what to write I considered my choices:

Do I go with giving as little information as possible:
"Mrs. Lipstick lives outside of Washington, DC with her family. She is a teacher."

Or the truth?
"Mrs. Lipstick spends her days racked with guilt from being a working mom of two little girls, who are beautiful when their hair is brushed. To accomplish that feat she sits on them every morning, occasionally growling at them when they turn their heads and mess up the braiding. She just completed her 13th year of teaching, but is making less than all of you lawyers made your first year out of law school. Before your bonus. As school systems do not offer "partnerships" as your law firms do, she continues to hold the same job anyone just out of college is eligible to hold, despite her years of experience and her masters degree. Her husband is extremely patient with her as he watches her put in late nights of completing special education paperwork and writing reports."

That might be too much of a downer and sounds way more bitter than I intended it too, even just for this blog post.

(Truth be told, any of those people above could also write depressingly realistic updates about the tedium of their jobs and day to day lives, their job titles would just continue to make the tedium sound more impressive).

I wrote my best friend's, because sometimes when you are going to brag you need to have someone else put the words together for you...

TeacherMom continues to live in Virgnia with her beautiful family. Her Wonder Woman skills continued to be revealed as she completed her masters in Education Administration while taking care of her two active and sweet boys. Her creativity will be on display this coming year in the art room, where she will revolutionize elementary art before taking the world by storm as an administrator. Yet even in all this glory she continues to find time to socialize with other alumni including the equally incredible Mrs. Lipstick! (she added that last part.)

There isn't anything like Class Updates if you are a teacher to make you ponder your place in the world (except maybe cocktail parties hosted by lobbying firms). Us teachers need to get better at selling ourselves. We need to brag on ourselves and the AMAZING work we do day to day. I was so glad my friend submitted the one I wrote for her because it is true. She IS wonder woman. She may not have a law degree, be competing for partner, or starting her own private equity firm, but she is rocking it out. She took all that intelligence and promise that got her into our "good" college and applied it to helping children. Helping them every single day, teaching them to read, write, and get them passionate about school. She puts in so many extra hours that I don't think she sleeps.

It's hard as teachers to make ourselves sound successful in two to three sentences. We don't get promoted if we want to continue to teach children everyday. We can't say we've become a CEO or made partner, or become chief resident. To get promoted we have to actually reduce the time we work with kids.

Reading over this post I worry it came off more bitter than I intended. I hope not. Maybe it's because so many people I went to school with used to ask me why I was going to go to my school if I was just going to be a teacher. (The school has since started an education program, but it didn't exist when I was there.) As teachers we make sacrifices that many people don't even consider. It's not about the pay, but committing to a lifestyle where some people are going to make assumptions about your intellect and your capabilities because of your profession.

I want teaching to be a profession where the teachers in the room are given the same awe-inspiring respect as lawyers and doctors. We shouldn't feel ashamed in telling our classmates we are teachers. We should shout it from the rooftops.

I must admit, I enjoyed reading what my classmates are up to these days, and how successful they've become. I'm proud of them and their success, but I'm especially proud of the ones who became teachers.

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