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How a Student-Teaching Experience Changed My Perspective on Teachers

James Mann

Not many high school sophomores get the chance to be an actual teacher.  As a member of my school's Education Academy, I've already spent a day at one of Oakland's elementary schools teaching 2nd graders. 

At first, I thought teaching was going to be easy. Then I met "Taylor." It all started when Taylor wet himself and began shouting profanities. Suddenly the class fell apart before my eyes. Two girls started pushing one another. Another boy shouted, "I don't want to be here!"

I knew right then: I didn't want to be a teacher. My team and I had prepared for four weeks by getting our lessons together, cutting out cardboard pieces for the game we were going to play, and filling out certificates. We thought the day was going to be awesome.

Just like our experience that day, our own teachers have to deal with disrespectful students who talk back and don't do their work. 

But our teachers make it look easy. It seems like they always know what the lesson will be when they walk in the door. They know how to control their classrooms. They almost always know the answer to whatever question that comes up. After my experience as a teacher, I know how hard they work in order to make it look so easy.

Most people think that teachers are sitting on a beach relaxing every summer. I know differently. I know that my teachers spend most of their "breaks" preparing for their classes.

In addition to being prepared, teachers have to be an extra parent for their students. They have to have heart, faith, and motivation. They have to believe in their students, even when their students don't believe in themselves. One of my teachers, Ms. Horton, came up to me recently and told me that she noticed how I've been improving in my classes. That made me feel really good about myself. 

I get tired of hearing people disrespecting teachers. I hear people say that teachers don't work very hard; that teachers are greedy and just want more money; that teachers get three months of vacation every summer.

What I know is this: teaching is hard. It takes a lot of hours to get ready for one day at school. After putting in all that work, teachers have to deal with those few students who are disrespectful and rude. Despite all of that, my teachers are still able to come to school every day and do their best.

James Mann is a 10th grader at Skyline High School, a public school in Oakland, Calif. He is a member of his school's Education Academy.

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