Saturday, 5 September 2009

Give teachers a break


To who it may concern

I come from a family of teachers.

My mother was a teacher and my four siblings all trained as teachers although only two of my older sisters are still teaching. And as for my mother, once a teacher always a teacher - she's been known to circle my blog posts with red pen.....

As for me? Well there's a reason I only have one child and that's all I am saying
(and let's hope that one child doesn't read this because I always told her the real reason was that when you got perfection why bother going back for more only to be disappointed....).
I remember getting a scholarship to teach (yes it was a sought after career back in the day) but I bucked the family trend and did something entirely different. Even at 17 I knew my limits and I take a great deal of pride in the fact that there are hundreds of children out there that are better off as a result of my selflessness.

There is absolutely no way I could have handled 20, 30, 40 kids five days a week. And worse, I couldn't have tolerated the parents of some of those said kids blaming me for why their little Johnny or Mary wasn't recognised as a genius. It would have been a short and 'interesting' career I am sure.

Being a teacher must be like handling 1,000 year old eggs. It's not for the faint hearted, the clumsy of foot or those devoid of tact. So I really admire my sisters and every other dedicated teacher and teacher's assistant out there who love doing what they do.

However, just how hard do some parents make teachers jobs? There's a fine line between taking an active interest in your child's education and constantly knocking on the teacher's door with one more reason why they could be doing a better job.

That's why the following audio made me laugh out loud and I couldn't wait to send it to my sisters. It is supposedly an answering machine message from Maroochydore High School Queensland, Australia and has options such as:
To lie about why your child is absent, press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work, press 2
To complain about what we do, press 3
...and so on.

Of course its a fake but more interestingly, the audio is actually based on a real-life 2002 clash between parents and teachers at Pacific Palisades High School in California, in which the school failed pupils for absences, regardless of their academic record. When parents started to sue the teachers, the teachers voted for a new office answering machine message.


The real-life details are as fascinating as the MP3 is amusing. Listen here.




Read about the California incident here.

And the message coming loud and clear from educators is don't blame schools for problems that parents and children should solve. I agree!

68 comments:

  1. I no doubt may have lied about my daughter's absence from school at some point or other but at least I didn't do what my friend Sue did. She phoned the school claiming her son was sick for the last few days of term just as the nice airline lady was announcing their flight over the tannoy.... apparently she never got the cane or detention.....must have been a nice teacher

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  2. Oh my gosh, Erindale College wouldn't let Alessandro off the last week of school in his grade 11 year in term 3 to go to Italy to visit his relatives. I had to say he was sick. This was 2 years ago.

    The worst part of my job, is strange parents.

    I have been at the airport so many times this year, and every time I was "moved on" while hovering outside to do a pick up, I thought of you.

    The last 4 times we have had to park.

    Do you get bomb tested every single time you are there even if you are taking someone else in for a flight? Or is it just me?

    I am off to Italy in 3 weeks. Loads more pictures when I get back. :)

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  3. Frankly, although I accept that teachers like everyone else need to be monitored and criticised at times, I say bring back the days when children learned very quickly that violence and bad behaviour resulted in controlled but nevertheless violent retribution in return.

    Sorry if that offends some, but a relatively small (but significant) number of kids in the UK are so out of control and so evil (and I use the word very seriously) that shooting's far and away too good for them! And no one can do a damned thing about them!

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  4. Leslie, truly in 3 weeks? How wonderful!! Oh wish ti was me but I will love to see your photos and hear all about your trip! Um no I never get the bomb test but my daughter ALWAYS does and so does my mother. I cant help it that I have suspicious looking relatives, lol! Erindale College wouldnt let him off? Strange but I guess rules are rules. He is an Australiam champion dont forget!!!

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  5. af1blog - no I totally agree with you. I really do. I think having some healthy fear is good. I recall getting slapped on the hand at five. Never again. And other than the years and years I have spent in a psych's office it hasnt affected me too much, lol! (I am joking just in case someone thinks this is true). No I reeally do agree with you. We have bred a whole generation of narcissists - hence our global financial problems today I believe.
    PS I didnt realise it was YOU until I went to your blog last night!!! Glad you are still around.

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  6. I so agree with you all. I am not sure how high school teachers do it - brave is the only word I can think of. Funny mp3, very funny.

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  7. @Lilly: Hiya - thanks - and I'm very glad you're still addicted to blogging, in spite of your efforts to control it :)

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  8. Lilly,

    You might think we are living in either Utopia or Middle Ages. Our schools have uniforms, and childrem dont basically wander from class to class; the teachers do. There may be lots of talk behind a teachers back, but at first sight, everyone listens to the teacher. Parents dont argue too much regarding academics , with teachers, but there have been issues on physical punishments and stuff.

    Having said all this, being a teacher is not something everyone looks up to. Everyone thinks you became one because you couldnt get a "decent" job.

    Hmm. I wish they had met you.

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  9. Hey Lilly, you are a gem and your daughter is perfect!

    I loved the last statement on the audio....for another language move to the country that speaks it!

    It is a beautiful weekend here in Sydney town....spring sure has sprung.

    OH BTW LOVE your new header..here's to new beginnings.

    Big hugs
    Peggy

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  10. Morning, Lilly. Catching up on my blog reading. Happy Saturday!

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  11. The last statement on the mp3 had my laughing out loud.
    I so agree with what you write here. Teachers are only to be admired!

    I love imagining your mom reading your blog with a red pencil! :) Hilarious!

    Have a great weekend!

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  12. My son has graduated from college and is currently working on his teaching certificate. The lack of cooperation between parents and teachers that I see today makes me a bit nervous for him and his chosen profession.

    An Arkies Musings

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  13. Lilly... love the post. Indeed, folk should give teachers a BREAK (lol)! As a secondary (high) school teacher I love love love the job and profession. But as you say, the challenges of the profession are made even more challenging with difficult parents who refuse to support teachers in what they do for their kids. I really believe that education is a partnership between students, parents, teachers, social services, society (as a whole) pulling together to ensure that each student achieves the best of their potential. In spite of the challenges (including the excessive administration around teaching in the UK), I have found it to be a most rewarding career. Perhaps, it's because I found my calling and vocation as a teacher late in life (at 32 years). At the moment, I have taken a break from secondary school teaching while I complete my MA and I'm engaged in EFL teaching (because it grants me more time and flexibility) - but I confess, I do miss secondary school teaching and can't wait to get back to it! ps giggled at the school answerphone message :)

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  14. Amen, Teachers are the backbone of society without them we would all be lost!

    OH and Doris Day was my most favorite growing up. Watched her every weekend at my Grandparent house. Good Times thanks for the memories :-)

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  15. Lilly, I've missed you! That audio was very funny! I had to call the school this week, but honestly my daughter and nephew were sick. I have the doctor's slip to prove it, because Texas does NOT play. :)

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  16. Oh this a hoot!

    After obsessing about her son starting middle school my friend came back from orientation relieved. After listening to a room full of parents ask ridiculous questions that had all been answered repeatedly in emails, postal mail, posters in the schools, etc., she felt her son was now way ahead of the game!

    My family is also filled with teachers and I'll be sending them over to have a listen and a laugh!! Thanks Lilly :)

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  17. I started out majoring in Elementary Education, and due to a crappy school counselor, didn't take all the prerequisites I needed. I thank my lucky stars, because I know I would hate it.

    So, I went into social work, to deal with the really crazy families!

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  18. Lilly;

    I studied to be a teacher in college. It was a sought after profession back then.
    I happen to think that parenting and teaching are the hardest jobs above all others.
    Thank goodness teachers are still being born with the drive to teach.
    Hopefully that will continue !
    I don't remember if I used any of those lies when I would call the school...but I must have!
    Always funny stuff from you.
    Love it!

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  19. My favorite: "If you want us to raise your child, press 6"

    Love it!

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  20. Teaching is a terribly hard job. I was always amazed by the teachers I saw who seemed to meld into the daily life of a child. How do they make it so interesting for the kids. I think if I were a teacher, the children would be asleep most of the time due to boredom.

    I have one question, how do you get the red marks off the computer monitor, LOL. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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  21. I loved all my teachers i feel so bad for the Teachers who have students that are hellians and cause so much greif.

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  22. I wish I was still teaching so I could print out this blog and pass it out to all my colleagues. That phone message is too fabulous and sadly, too true.

    That said, I had many wonderful parents throughout my 20 years of teaching. I loved them and their children. Funny how you remember just those three who drove you up the wall with everything you mentioned.

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  23. My husband and I listened to the audio together and laughed out loud. We're sending it to his daughter, the school teacher.

    I'm with you Lilly, I could NEVER be a teacher.... I just don't have the patience for the kids, the parents of the school administration!

    Hope your weekend is great.
    xo

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  24. Nice post and I totally agree!!! Working within the school system I have seen how much parents blame teachers for things they ought to have done with their kids in the first place. I mean seriously, they expect teachers to teach respect, tolerance, social skills etc in addition to basic literacy and numeracy when they should have done the former! I admire teachers and would never want to swap jobs with them...I prefer seeing kids on a one-to-one basis and the few times I have run educational groups for whole classes has only made me admire teachers more!

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  25. Hi Lilly
    I too come from a family of teachers. Mind you thats not unusal in Ireland. I taught Chemistry Biology and Maths for seven years. I loved the children, but hated the fact that nothing I did was ever good enough.

    Infact some parents actually looked down on me as a teacher cos I wasn't making enough money to demand their respect. In the world money is all that counts and thats how some people evaluate you.

    I know longer teach.

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  26. Excuse me typing at work.
    I no longer teach.

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  27. I like kids, but could not tolerate some of the kids of today. I have helped in school, but that was be fore all the different phones were out, I can just imagine teachers trying to keep kids off them during class. That list was absolutely great and hit the nail right on the head. Have a great Sunday.

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  28. what a funny audio! I've heard horror stories about some parents, but of course, there are the good ones too.

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  29. Thanks for your comments, everyone. And yes of course there are only a few parents that cause the issues, not all. And its surprising how many bloggers are teachers or former teachers.

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  30. One of the problems is that people expect school to take on the responsibilities of the parents.

    I taught for 15 yrs - hard work but also very very rewarding.

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  31. I won't lie. Here in Canada anyway, the teachers have some pretty cushy jobs. Short days, three months holidays every year, no stress about passing or failing a kid, they all MUST move on regardless.

    However, I do think that kids have to be accountable. I think that at times, many kids deserve the strap, AND that the judicial system sucks, because "young offenders" are protected and cannot be named. Embarrassment and humiliation do wonders to your thought process, especially in front of your peers!

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  32. Having raised four kids ... and now watching as my grandchildren grow ... I found the 'press options' refreshingly funny!

    Love your header but wondering if Spring = New Beginnings, does
    Fall = Endings? Or is that the frame of mind I find myself in right now ... very painful here on the High Desert. Very.

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  33. Brilliant! I wouldn't say my daughter Laura bunked off a lot but I used to get phone calls from the school telling me when she turned up - in case I was worried about where she was...

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  34. Thank-you for this. Really, thank-you. Most people have no idea, but the kids I can deal with. It's some of the parents that make me want to change careers some days.

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  35. Oh man I totally agree too! My sister is a teacher. What she has to put up with blows my mind. I really don't know how she does it but she does, and on a wage that's akin to child slave labour.

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  36. I agree! being a teacher is probably one of the most difficult and pressuring profession a person could have. Here in the Phils. a public school teacher has to handle at least 70 students or even more in just one class, can you imagine? Just like being a nurse, it requires more than just liking the job but a true dedication. You simply can't be a teacher if you don't love the job!

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  37. @ Helen - no, no no - fall must mean a time for reflection. Besides, you have some new beginnings on their way too, in October?

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  38. Read the article on Huff Post about the million school kids homeless, interesting.

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  39. My wife is a teacher, she has always wanted to become a teacher, right from her childhood. I'm really proud of her profession. She has a new story to tell me everyday. :)

    I enjoyed reading your post. Keep blogging.

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  40. I didn't see the link to listen to it....but it's still funny to see the samples you wrote :))

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  41. Hilarious -- and well deserved!

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  42. Mostly everyone in my family is a teacher or educator. I have mostly dodged that bullet although I have facilitated and designed workshops a lot, including ones for teachers and parents. (My grandmother actively encouraged everyone in our family to "be a teacher" because she said there would always be children and therefore always a need for schools.)
    thanks for the audiotape. I almost choked I laughed so hard.

    I love teachers, I understand the difficulties they have. I also love and understand parents. I think that if parents were required to spend a week as assistants in school, they would quickly come to revere teachers and up their pay.
    My sister, a teacher, says that what she misses from her first decade of teaching, is that so many kids come to school with no respect for learning at all. Threatening to call the parents has little impact any more.

    As always, this is a great post. A movie should be made of you and your world view!

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  43. So very true. The one thing parents cannot fathom is the idea that someone else may know what is best for their kids.

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  44. Hooray for teachers, Lilly. Most of them are the salt of the earth, and imagine the uproar from parents if every teacher resigned and said, that's it, I refuse to try and educate your out of control little brats any longer. LOL.

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  45. thanks - I shared that with my two teacher daughters.

    Have you heard of the Lake Wobegon effect? It from the radio show that states:
    "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

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  46. You have a beautiful site here and I wanted to leave you a comment to say hello ! Thank you so much for sharing it all and best wishes

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  47. Must confess that after 23 years retirement I still often use a red pen ! ( And am often tempted to rap R over the knuckles or make him go and stand in the hall )
    In my day it was a wonderful job but then we had respect and support from most parents I always remember one dad saying " Any trouble from my lads let me know and I'll come in and deal with them !" They were lovely boys

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  48. THAT was by far... my favorite post ever!!!

    I am a FORMER teacher... for exactly those reasons on that MP3...

    I LOVED THIS POSST!!! SOOOOOOO TRUE...

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  49. I've been lucky for the teachers that have challenged me, forcing me to think creatively and to analyze critically. Some parents would mistake the "challenge" as believing the teacher is treating the pupil unfairly. We should allow teachers to do their profession without undue interference from parents.

    Aside: Your post reminded me of a video I posted earlier. Please see below:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

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  50. Oh, that voicemail is HILARIOUS. My teacher friends have the best stories, but also the worst. (Well, maybe except for nurses... but that's a different kind of 'worst'.) All I know is, I could NEVER do what they do, and I'm damn grateful for it.

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  51. really smart post!=)

    i just cant believe that the mother's are the ones telling lies. i dearly hope the kids are not aware of it.

    BTW, i am here to let you know that I tagged you in my latest post. hope you can visit back to see...and join the fun.

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  52. It is so true that parents need to take more respomsability for what their kids are doing---ESPECIALLY in the cases of not showing up for classes so often and not even doing 'the work'. I cut school with friends a number of times over my High School years--- maybe it happened 5 times all together in my senior year, but I would ALWAYS do the work.....It does seem that their is a strange attitude towards teachers now---as if THEY are responsible for all of this kind of behavior, and NOT the parents---Which is really crazy! I think teachers are the unsung hero's of the world. They can be inspiring and open up one's mind to so many things....It is really terrible that Teachers ae paid so little. Those who teach must be pretty dedicated to do so, considering the monetary rewards are so slim, and they sure must truly love what they are doing, When they do really well...many miracles can happen, some of which sets a person on a wonderful path for the rest of their lives.

    I love those Phone Message Options'....lol!

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  53. Funny, Lilly! I laughed out at #6 "If you want us to raise your child, press 6!" hahaha ...

    My youngest daughter has, thankfully, returned to college this Fall and wants to become a teacher. I've told her that in order to become a teacher, you actually have to learn something to impart upon the students. There's more to this, but I don't wanna bore anyone. It's been a LONG summer for sure! Now, she's working at a daycare with 2 - 3 year olds part-time and going to school in the afternoon. I gotta text, "Thank you for making me go back to college Mom!" Thank God! And she's now living with an old neighborhood friend and NOT her boyfriend! Praise GOD!

    I just hope this is truly what she wants because, actually, I think she'd be a really GREAT hairdresser! ;)

    I believe if she sticks with the traditional plan, she'll be a wonderful teacher. She's always had a way with kids. They adore her! Now that she's on her own, I hope the structure will help keep her on track. But! I realize she could wind up moving in back home. They usually do, don't they?

    :D

    Juls~

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  54. That is hilarious. I think teachers have to be saints. There is no way I could ever be one or have the patience to deal with all those children. My own were bad enough so I certainly don't want someone else's child.

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  55. I heard this whole message and it was hilarious. And yes the main message is that kids need to take responsibility. I exercise (or rather exorcise!!) this idea in my household and it works like a charm!

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  56. That was very funny. What a great post, Lilly. Take care.

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  57. I heartily agree with you Ms Lilly!!! Three cheers for teachers ...not that I'm biased or anything having trained to be one (secondary history english) - but escaped to the gentler world of teaching English as a second language. Even that's pretty full on - I truly admire and respect your siblings - teachers rock!! Have a lovely weekend Lilly!! XX

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  58. Oh, I loved the audio! I'm not a teacher, but I go into public schools telling stories. I have to respect and admire teachers for the jobs they do, and I know that I was not cut out for it! Love 'em & leave 'em is my motto! Great post.

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  59. Hello Lilly, how are you today.

    I miss my teachers. I don't think teachers today have the same characters and qualities of teachers of yesteryears. But then again, I could be wrong.

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  60. This is so funny I have sent it around to all my teacher friends. The need the laugh.

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  61. Very good post. I struggle constantly as far as how much to support my son and also support the teacher. I used to be a teacher, but when it is your kid, well, all logic flies out the window. At least with me... : )

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  62. My kids have never been really thrilled that I generally agree with the teacher's side of things first over their own explanations. Somehow, "she hates everyone" doesn't always seem to fit the situation.

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  63. Parents really are the responsible ones for our children's behaviors. They observe and learn through us.

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  64. first of all... i am glad you knew your limits... i am grateful for the many great teachers my children have had. but one year we did have one... ugh... i dont think she even LIKED teaching...

    funny answering machine.

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  65. G'day Lilly
    I was once upon a time married to a teacher. When, for the thousandth time he asked me a half question (eg 'If there are twelve eggs in a dozen there must be 36 in ... pause for answer') I decided it was time to call it a day.
    Cheers dear
    June also in Oz

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  66. Lilly, my dear....I hope you are okay. It's been a while since you posted and I just hope that it is being busy with life-outside-of-blogging...! Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and sending you (((((((HUGS)))))))!

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  67. My Mom is a teacher and my friends tell me that I missed my calling, that I should have been one as well. I enjoy training and teaching in the jewelry making classes... but I used to sub-teach at Mom's school and I would help her in the classroom after I got out of my classes when I was a teenager. I heard too many of the horror stories she had to handle, the kids, the students, the other teachers, the principals, the politics, the pay.... put it all together and no way was I going into that field. God bless the Teachers!

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Thanks for your comments.