I recall a time when the song "9-5" by Dolly Parton was my favourite tune to sing as a young girl. I dreamed of an awesome job where I could use office supplies to my heart's content and staple things on a regular basis. I even, at one point, set up my own classroom at home and made both my parents "go" to school; they both had to attend parent teachers' for one another. It was a beautiful dream.
I graduated from University excited to go out into the world and spread my love of education. I received my first assignment and went office supply shopping the same day. It was a good feeling. Then September hit and there was not enough office supplies in the world to eliminate the exhaustion that I felt. New pens make me happy, don't get me wrong, but there was no "happy" to be felt. This was my first inkling that Dolly had been lying to me.
The fully realization came to me this weekend; the teaching profession is NOT what Dolly was singing about. I decided, in all my second year teacher wisdom, that in the same week as Parent Teacher Interviews that I would organize a basketball tournament for our "A" Basketball teams. Not my best idea. Friday was a long day: 15 hours in total. I taught, officiated 6 basketball games, organized a tournament, kicked out a coach, and dealt with abuse from all fronts. It was more along the lines of "Gangster's Paradise" than the sweet ballads of Dolly's "9-5". I went home, exhausted and depleted of all the things that made me "love" my job had 4 hours of sleep and was back at the school by 8 am the next morning. Then something miraculous happened. Everything started to fall into place, exactly as it had planned. I had laminated, stapled and hole punched my way to getting through this tournament. I looked up and suddenly this event I had organized was carrying along without much effort on the second day. I couldn't believe it. Had I not been so tired, I may have relished in this moment a little more deeply.
Teaching is NEVER going to be a 9-5. By nature, education does not lend itself to the confines of time. Education can and does happen at all times of the day. Before school, after school, weekends....it is unrelenting. It is disturbing to me as a second year teacher to hear that some in our society believe teachers are not working hard enough or long enough to receive the wages we do from our government. I urge anyone with that notion to step into the shoes of a teacher for a while and see what the demands are like. Dolly was not singing about being an educator. This I now know to be true. Teachers are not 9-5ers but we are hard workers. Most teachers do not enter into education because of pay or working hours. We teach because there is something more we desire from our work and no 9-5 job would give us that satisfaction (or access to a stockpile of office supplies).
Mrs. Katherine (Kate) Weber