Back in August, in an effort to support educators and show the world what it’s really like in the classroom on a day-to-day basis, I started interviewing current classroom teachers. This semester, ten brave teachers participated in my interviews: Mr. D’Elia, Mr. W, Ms. B, Mr. L, Ms. S, Ms. C, Ms. L, Mrs. H, S.S., and Ms. A. I want to thank them again for their time, their honesty, their compassion, and for making me laugh, cringe, and/or cry with their responses.
I’m pausing the interviews for now. I don’t have any more teachers lined up at the moment, and as a former teacher myself, I know that it’s just cruel to ask educators to do anything else in these weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. They are already frantically planning lessons, grading papers, chasing late work, monitoring exams, contacting parents, decorating doors, scheduling holiday parties, finishing up online trainings they were supposed to complete in October, and trying to remember which day is Pajama Day and which day is Dress-Like-Your-Favorite-Muppet Day.* And that’s just the middle school teachers. I can’t even imagine what all the elementary teachers are going through at this time of year.
I will (gently, carefully, cautiously) reach out to teachers again next semester and see if some more would like to participate in my interviews. I think it would be valuable to see how spring responses compare with fall answers. But for now, I’m leaving the teachers alone to count down the days until they can collapse on the couch for a couple of weeks with a pile of blankets and a big mug of eggnog.
* Need something to sing while grading those last few dozen essays? Check out these Holiday Carols for Teachers. *
Before we wrap up this semester’s interviews though, let’s take a look at every teacher’s favorite thing: data.
10 Teacher Interviews:
# of High School Teachers = 3
# of Middle School Teachers = 5
# of Elementary School Teachers = 2
Age Range of Participants = 23-60
Salary Range of Participants = $50,000 – $65,000
Range of Teaching Experience = 0-23 years
Content Areas represented = English/Reading (5), Science (3), Math (1), Fine Arts (1)
Range of Class Sizes:
Smallest Classes = 1-25 students (Range in a Core Subject Not at an Alternative Campus = 8-25)
Largest Classes = 10-45 students (Range in a Core Subject Not at an Alternative Campus = 23-33)
- Job satisfaction ranged from 1-5 with an average of 3.2/5.
- Most teachers completed this survey in the evening after work. Some of them completed it in pieces over multiple days. It definitely took them longer than I anticipated/hoped and I am eternally grateful for their time.
- All participants teach in public schools in Texas, but they come from eight different districts all across the state.
- The youngest teacher interviewed makes the highest salary.
- The winner of the most students taught goes to Mr. W, who teaches 206 seventh grade science students.
- The winner of the weirdest/saddest lunch goes to Ms. B, whose lunch “consists of a poptart I eat throughout the day whenever I have time.”
- The person who made me laugh the most was Ms. A with her description of trying to teach 6th graders about “F holes” and “G strings” in orchestra. Perhaps I have the maturity of a 6th grader, because that made me giggle.
I look forward to shining the spotlight on some more teachers next semester, but maybe it’s time for a little revision. After reading the first ten interviews, what else do you want to know? What question should I be asking teachers that I haven’t thought of?
Thank you again to teachers everywhere. Hang in there for these next few weeks and then enjoy your much-deserved break.
* This is made-up. None of my schools ever had a Dress-Like-Your-Favorite-Muppet Day, and now I’m wondering why not. I totally would have rocked a Super Grover costume. **
** Not having a Dress-Like-Your-Favorite-Muppet Day did not stop my coworker across the hall from wearing his Fozzie the Bear onesie on Pajama Day. “Waka waka!”