The following is a rough transcript from my introduction video, which you can find below. In the coming weeks and month I am planning on logging every hour I work as a teacher. I do so in the hopes of demonstrating that a ten week break this summer does not mean I work or am worth less than any private sector job. If you're a teacher I'd like not only your attention, but also for you to join me. Years ago I tried this, but did so anonymously and alone. I figure adding some accountability and the attention of others will force me to follow through this time. Thanks for your time, and come back for updates!
My name is Charles Ripley and it’s the first day of summer. I just finished my fifth year as a High School English teacher. I work with amazing, dedicated colleagues. My students are intelligent and hard working. I live in a community that values education. This is my dream job. But, despite all that, I have a confession to make.
I don’t know if I can go another five.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m lucky to be employed and that there’s hundreds who would take my job.
So ask yourself…why would he be considering turning his back on the past ten years of his life to settle down to an entry level business job?
I’m not alone.
According to the NEA, half of new teachers quit by the time they’re in the profession for five years or less. Half. Imagine if half of doctors or lawyers or engineers quit after five years. Reasons for this are various. Low pay, long hours, and burn out.
This year has been especially perplexing. Nationwide I’ve seen a harsh attack on my profession. We’ve become solely responsible for budget shortfalls or failing students. Teacher’s unions have become targets for politicians and documentaries.
Some of what they say is true.
There are bad teachers. There are students who we fail to teach. There is corruption in education, from the highest administrators to the newest employees. Teachers are part of the problem. But we are not wholly to blame.
For me, the time to speak up has come. I can only speak for myself, but I believe what I’m willing to say is on the minds of most teachers.
We are not over paid.
Tenure needs reform, not removal.
We want to be held accountable, but not by test scores.
We do not work fewer hours than you.
It’s that last point I’m most bitter about, to be honest. Yes, it’s summer, and I’m excited for the chance to rest. But I’m also anxious, and a little resentful. I know that most arguments, debates, or conversations about teachers boil down to “summers off.”
It’s the invincible defense. How am I, or you to respond? “No, I don’t have ten weeks off?” I want to end the misconceptions about the quality and quantity of a teacher’s work.
For the next year I invite you to follow me. I’ll be on youtube, facebook, twitter, and blogspot. I will log every single hour I spend teaching, coaching, grading, and furthering my own education. I believe it will reach, and probably surpass 2,000 hours.
I believe that over the span of a year, despite weekends, despite holidays or summer break, I put in as many hours as any private sector job. And I’d like to invite my fellow teachers in logging our time.
So, starting on your first day of summer vacation, log one year’s time of work, whether it’s continuing education, classroom hours, grading, or coaching. In the meantime I’ll be working on how to collect and present this data in the most effective way possible.
I know this idea may seem petty, cynical, or even childish. I can only assure you that that’s not my intention. I’m not a great teacher, and I know there are many people who work harder than I do. I just want to share my story and hopefully change your mind about the nation’s teachers.
Thank you for your time and consideration. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please like, follow, retweet, and share this message with every teacher in your life. We’ll need all of their help.
Thank you, and enjoy your summer.