One reason the world should be kind to teachers is that this job is far tougher than most people realize, especially in poor and urban school districts. I watched almost no recreational TV during the last school year, cutting sleep sometimes in order to be ready for the next day. Lesson planning happens in the evening, grading happens, and phone calls home may punctuate these efforts. High school teachers sometimes have more than 150 students to manage and that management takes skills that only develop with time, time that some would-be teachers never receive. Excessive flexibility doesn’t work in a poor or urban school because the kids generally need a great deal of structure — but, without flexibility, the challenges that these schools and their students pose can prove overwhelming.
I remain amazed that I survived my first couple of years. They walked on me like I was the family room rug. Fortunately, we liked each other. I survived, but many don’t.