Every time I watch a movie that includes a U.S. classroom setting, I always see at least three glaring inconsistencies with real life teaching. The first thing I notice is there is ALWAYS a chalkboard—no matter what year the movie is set in! There could be some amazing learning occurring in this pretend classroom and yet there’s the chalkboard. As far as I know, most U.S. teachers have had a dry erase white board for at least ten years.
And movies always have a teacher leaving children alone in the classroom, sends them out to recess—while she stays inside! Or the teacher comes into the classroom after students are already in their seats. As teachers, we’re more responsible than that.
AND finally, apparently Hollywood hasn’t clued into the fact that classrooms have technology. DUH. In the age of iPhones and instant access to everything, does everyone really think classrooms haven’t evolved? We don’t use chalk, we have technology, and we’re with our students—also we don’t sit at our desks while students work.
We teachers in 2018 have so many amazing things that weren’t available when Hollywood formed this distorted view of the classroom (just wait until Generation Z takes over script writing and set design!)
In the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, let’s enumerate all the blessings we have as 2018 teachers. I know teacher life can feel complicated and overwhelming, but I hope you’ll see the beauty of teaching life with this spotlight on the positive.
- Technology. I’m not sure about you but writing out lessons on a chalkboard instead of a Smartboard/Activboard or even a dry erase board seems torturous! Imagine how many times a teacher in the past cringed accidently scratching the chalk board—not to mention chalk dusk all over AND the constant erasing!Now we can spend minutes typing up a lesson with pretty fonts and inserting pictures. We can show animated and video lessons that not only teach content, but also reconstruct history and simulate science. That’s the just the tip of the iceberg with all the uses of technology!
- Never Boring. In my previous career in archaeology, I found much of my time consumed by mundane tasks—counting and measuring artifacts, digging slowly but not finding anything, all in 100-degree temperatures. So many small jobs in between have been just plain, mind-numbingly boring.Teaching in the 21stcentury is NEVER boring and completely fulfilling. There’s something always novel and fresh, from new students to educational innovations. On any given day, I would rather be solving problems than dying of boredom.
- Benefits. I know this one is a bit different but if we compare the pay and benefits (insurance, vacation time, autonomy) to that of teachers 100 years ago or even 25, we would be amazed at how blessed we are.
At Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, there’s a one-room schoolhouse on display with a list of “Rules for Teachers” circa 1901. (You can see it for yourself at the top of this post.) Not only could teachers not marry but we also couldn’t wear bright colors, travel outside town limits without permission, or “loiter downtown in ice cream parlors”. Wow! Plus, we had to be in the schoolroom by 7:00 a.m. to start the fire.
So this year, as I enter my classroom, I’m going to feel a surge of gratitude for all my creature comforts, technology, and fresh challenges. Because more than anything else, I feel blessed to be a teacher in 2018.