Friday, January 3, 2014

Stuff You Should Stop Assuming About English Teachers

If I had a quarter for every time someone started freaking out about their grammar or their lack of good reading/writing habits around me the second they found out I was an English teacher, I could eat out every meal for a year.

The truth is, we often define people by their jobs:

Oh, you're a doctor? You must be smart.
Oh, you're a lawyer? You must be cynical and argumentative.
Oh, you're a teacher? You must love children, have a heart of pure gold, and be a huge sucker for choosing jobs that don't pay you for what you're worth.

Perhaps there is some truth in these stereotypes. After all, if there had never been any truth to any stereotype, why would it keep getting perpetuated?

However, there are a few little things I would like to clear up between you and me.

1. The fact that I'm an English teacher doesn't mean that I'm automatically judging you on how correctly you speak (or write).

This is the biggest misconception people have about English teachers. Perhaps some of you have some lovely friend or other in your life who feels it her personal duty to correct you every time you confuse "I" and "me" or "lay" and "lie."

Guess what?

I'm not that lovely friend.

You are not my student; therefore, I am not going to act like your teacher. So please, for the love of all that's chocolate and good, STOP FREAKING OUT about your grammar around me already.

2. I have not, in fact, read every single book ever published.

I  know this might come as a shock to some people, but there are AT LEAST a thousand books I haven't read. Maybe even two thousand. So stop assuming I've read Da Vinci Code, because I haven't. (And I probably never will.)

3. Just because I chose to teach doesn't mean that I can't do.

You know, like that saying--"Those who can't do, teach"? Well, I've got news for you:

Don't ever say that to a teacher.

Because guess what?

I can read AND write AND probably make a living besides teaching doing those things.

But I'm not.

And I'm fine with that.

4. Not all English teachers love Shakespeare.

Although I've been heavily trained to appreciate Shakespeare, I don't exactly LOVE Shakespeare.

I really needed to get that off my chest.

5. Just because I'm a teacher doesn't mean I'm poor.

Ha ha. Yes it does.

6. Because I'm human, I am still entitled to make mistakes. Yes, even grammar mistakes.

And no, that does NOT give you the right to gloat over those mistakes when they do happen.

Seriously. (One of my biggest pet peeves of all time.)

7. Teaching is not my mission---it's my job.

A lot of people seem to expect teachers to put in all sorts of hours at home and on weekends to keep up on the endless grading, planning, and preparing. I for one almost never take any work home because I firmly decided during my time student teaching that I was going to try and separate my job and my personal life as much as possible.

And while some people might think that it's my mission to put in 80 hours a week planning these crazy lessons for my students and helping them put on Shakespeare plays and tutoring each student one-on-one, it's just not.

Yes, I still put in a lot more than 40 hours a week to do all the stuff mentioned above. I just don't go crazy about it.

8. Although teachers might be the closest thing to superheroes (next to moms), it does not, in fact, mean that we ARE superheroes.

I went into teaching thinking that I could "save" every student, light the fire of learning in every child, and still be considered a "cool" teacher.

I realized the error in that thinking REAL fast.

I can't do everything for everyone--I can only do the best I can, and that just has to be good enough. (At least until I discover some radioactive chemical that will magically give me those superpowers.

Hey, it could happen.

What do people automatically assume about you based on your profession? Anything I missed that people always assume about teachers?


  1. I think the biggest assumption that is made about me and my profession is that I am not living up to my expectations. I have a degree in English and I am working retail. While I am the first to admit, my job is not a dream, it works for me. My hours are flexible and it pays well enough. My career is not who I am it is what i do.

    1. I think we judge ourselves so much on our careers, but I like how you put it---it's not really what defines us, it's just something we do. Thanks for your thoughts :)

  2. These are some of the same qualms I have about teaching. So many of the labels and expectations we receive should actually be assumed by parents.

  3. Right there with ya! And yeah, we pretty much are poor. Waiting for the day when people realize how valuable our work is and decide to start paying us the big bucks ;)

    1. We can always dream, right? Sigh. Maybe someday...

  4. Go on girrrrrrrrlllll!!! I teach first grade and everyone says, " you must love kids"... I like kids on a case by case basis... I don't love ALL kids.... and whenever I tell ppl I teach first grade... they look at me like I said, "coalminer" or "slaughterhouse worker", "oooohhhh..... "

    1. Ha ha, yes! How could I have left off the part about people assuming I love all teenagers/kids?

  5. love this Torrie! Absolutely brilliant! The one that bothers me the most is people expecting me to know all sorts of random, totally inane grammar questions. Also drives me crazy when I misspell something or leave out a comma and someone makes a remark like, "Aren't you an English teacher?" Yes, I am, but that doesn't mean I am perfect.

  6. Haha this is hilarious! I definitely police myself when it comes to grammar-I will correct myself five minutes after I say something grammatically incorrect if that's when I realize it! I taught summer school last summer, and what I took away from the whole experience is that is only takes one moment of realization for a struggling student to make your day and make you love teaching all over again :)

    Also, a really nice veteran blogger explained to me that people don't actually see your comment replies if you reply by the built in Blogger thing, because there is no notification email. They'll get a reply if you email them back from the email notification.

    xo, Hima
    Hima Hearts

  7. I love this! So refreshing to read, as I have heard TONS of those myself. I do have to say though- I can have tendencies of the "Grammar Nazi." It drives me crazy when people make obnoxious grammar errors. I can't help it! :0

  8. I taught middle school language arts for 6 years and I can relate to everything on the list. I would also add that english teachers are not walking dictionaries. That one always annoyed me.


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