I Don't Hate My Job (And That's Okay)!
Happy New Year, everyone!
2018 is poised to be a big year. BIG. HYUUUUGGE. All hyperbole aside, I honestly can’t wait to share all that I have planned. This year, we at TMMW—the committee of one (aka: me)—will be pursuing bigger and better things with this blog. There will be interviews, guest bloggers, and even more readership milestones to reach (the blog has already reached over 400 individual readers, including readers from 6 different countries and across 4 different continents—WOW)! I’m also doing my first mailbag post (coming soon), so if you haven’t already sent me a question or thought on education (and thank you to those few who’ve already done so), please email TMMWmailbag@gmail.com. Just be sure to include your first name and city in the body of the email.
Now, having said all of this…as positive as the vibes have been at TMMW headquarters, I’ve gotta get something off my chest that’s been bothering me for quite some time…
Am I the only teacher who actually likes his job??
Of course I’m not, but if you were to believe what is ubiquitously posted on the internet, you’d walk through life believing that teachers hated their jobs more than anything in the world (you’d also walk around with a lot of other unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and desires…but that’s a totally different topic of conversation to be had on a totally different kind of blog). Truly, go online and do a search for teacher memes. You’ll be shocked at how, overwhelmingly, the results come back with numerous “jokes” lamenting how awful it is to be a teacher. In fact, here are a few that I just found in about 30 seconds of internet browsing:
These memes are about as common on social media as passive aggressive vaguebook posts from your most emo friends—like, “#badday,” or “it was nice while it lasted…” (No, David, I will not fall into this trap and ask you what was “nice while it lasted!” If you want to talk about a serious issue you’re dealing with, you can tell me about it directly, like an adult, and I will respond accordingly with a series of man shrugging emojis! 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️).
In fact, some Instagram accounts are designed for the sole purpose of curating and sharing memes like these. One account, in particular, has over 200,000 followers. I’ll say that again a little louder: OVER TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND FOLLOWERS (and I’m over here poppin’ bottles because I just passed 300 followers)!
Political strategist Lee Atwater famously said, “Perception is reality.” I have no doubt that the perceptions people have of educators are largely due to the “reality” posted all over the internet—and not the reality we (the ones who actually love what we do) experience every day.
So why do we allow ourselves to be made the butt of jokes like this? Why do we allow people (educators and non-educators) to undermine our careers, our passion, and our purpose in this manner? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these memes are all well-deserved. Maybe these stereotypes are writ large an accurate representation of educators on the whole—and teachers like us are in the minority whereas teachers like the ones who embody these memes are actually the majority.
But I don’t think I’m wrong. I think we are dealing with a stereotype that’s easier (and lazier) to believe or ignore than it is to push back and challenge such culturally pervasive toxicity. It’s like how people think college sports are fun to watch. They aren’t. College sports are like if a handful of professional athletes were forced to play intramural games at the local 24-hour Fitness. It might be fun to see the real athletes up close and in person, but who wants to watch Kevin Durant give up shots to an overweight man named Doug? You’ve been bricking three point shots all afternoon, Doug! Pass the ball to Durant!!
But that’s the thing about these memes...like college sports, you can either pretend to like them to feel like you’re part of a community of people who “get it,” or you can (and probably do) ignore it and allow it to grow and multiply in the miserable hands of people who only seek to harm our profession.
At some point, when we see the toxic memes that (by association) disparage superior educators and reduce the people in our profession to the kind of selfish, apathetic, and unfit-for-the-job qualities that we would normally reserve for politicians (and Doug, the ball-hogging “shooting guard”), we are going to have to push back. We are going to have to say something, anything, about how wrong they are. We need to stop giving these memes validity (or allowing them to claim validity). We need to let everyone know, “I don’t hate my job—in fact, I love it—and that’s okay!”