Who has the hardest job?

Every once in a while I tweet something only to realize it lacks context and nuance that makes for horrible conversation and goes against many of the things I think makes Twitter a poor place for deep conversation. Like this one:

These are the tweets that get retweeted and favorited but also create some questions and reactions that are difficult to explore in 140. So here I am.

This tweet was borne out of mostly living with a teacher and being one too. I know I never worked harder than when I was in the classroom. I work long hours now, perhaps more than when I taught but one I still remember the biggest thing I gained when I left the classroom was autonomy of my time. Being able to go the bathroom when I wanted was a luxury I didn’t have for the 14 years I taught grades 1-8. Being able to take 10 minutes to walk across the office to chat with a co-worker about a project was something I couldn’t do as a teacher. My wife, who has been teaching for 25 years still works 3 or more hours every night. She spends her day with seven year-olds and works tirelessly to ensure her classroom functions like clockwork. Even 5 minutes of unplanned time can mean 15 minutes of bringing those students back to task. She has to be “on” from the moment she enters the classroom to the time they leave to go home. Shortened lunch times, additional safety concerns at recess mean even less time to have much of any autonomy. I can’t think of another profession where you have to be that focused and attentive for as long and often. That particular aspect of the job, in my opinion, led to my tweet.

What I don’t believe is that school leaders have a less important job. I know great leaders who put in as much, if not more time than teachers. I know leaders who deal with a significant amount of stress from parents, students, teachers, and boards. I realize that determining who has the harder job is a fruitless discussion. I also know that in many circumstances, schools are finding it more difficult to find administrators than to find teachers. The “hard” I’m referring to is a different kind of hard that for some is real challenge.

I suppose I’ve always viewed my colleagues in terms of the difficulty of the roles. I’ve never tried to tell anyone that I had a hard job. In fact, one thing I always focused on as a leader was acknowledging the challenges of others and tried to encourage and support them. I think a good leader focuses mostly on others. This is why community for leaders is so important. Sometimes they need to unwind and lament outside the community of teachers in order to maintain a strength and support for those folks on the front lines.

So let me just say, all our jobs are important. You can disagree about my statement about who has the harder job but with I suppose because of the autonomy I gained from leaving the classroom, I’ll stick with my tweet. But perhaps a better tweet might be one from a few months back.


Okay, I’m done.  If you want to keep arguing, do it here. I still love you all.


PS. Next time I tweet something of this nature, remind me to blog about it instead.

Photo Credit: Pragmagraphr via Compfight cc

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