Everybody thinks being a primary teacher is easy. If you can read picture books with expression, print neatly, and add or subtract a few small numbers, you can probably teach young children. And really, how hard can it be to paint a picture with giant paper and big paintbrushes. The really good primary teachers probably play the piano and can sing ‘happy birthday’ in a soprano voice.
I always want to say to the people who think primary teachers just play all day…”Why don’t you invite 20 of your child’s closest friends over for a birthday party for a couple of hours and see how you feel?” Extrapolate that experience to six hours everyday, take away the cake and presents, add reading, writing math, daily physical activity, healthy snacking, the arts and science to the event and you get a primary teacher experience.
Although it’s not easy, a primary teacher has one of the most important jobs in an educated society. Early learning and early academic success are life-changing events for young children. A primary teacher is the key to the greatest gifts a child can receive the gifts of literacy and numeracy. Primary teachers might make it look fun and easy, but the experienced eye knows their job can only be accomplished with great skill and expertise.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and feeling like no one understands just how complicated your job can be, think of the student you saved or the child who changed or the parent who was eternally grateful.
As a rejuvenation exercise, share how your expertise and commitment changed a moment in a student’s life.
Christine Jenkins is a grade one teacher in Simcoe County. Over the past 24 years, she has worked as a Reading Recovery™ Teacher Leader, a literacy resource teacher, a literacy coach, and has taught grades one through 8. Chris is passionate about teaching children to read, especially children at risk, and believes that success in the early grades is of the utmost importance. Since 2001, she has concentrated her own professional development in literacy instruction.She holds a Master of Education.