Friday, June 11, 2010

And Now...Introducing...The Smooth!!!

I have been an avid reader and active commenter on this wonderful blog. I now have the distinct honor of being its second ever guest blogger. Thank you Liza.

During my time spent here on Pillow Book, I, as a teacher, have noticed something interesting…the vast majority of people reading this blog are also teachers (and, in fact, the blogger herself gravitates toward this very vocation when not moonlighting as a dog rescuer, shelf stocker, blogger and test grader). Those readers who are not teachers seem to have some sort of special relationship with education or educators. Many times the topic of education has been breached here and there has been no want for insightful comment. Given that this is the case, I thought that for my first bout of guest blogging I would address some issues with teaching and education that might generate some interesting conversation. Here is my open letter to the American people.


Dear America,

You think you know teachers. You do not. We have been pigeonholed and typecasted for years as lame, dorky, lazy, the people responsible for raising your children, omniscient and morally flawless. The Pillow Book nation and I are here to set some things straight. We want to address these myths which have been perpetrated about educators. Once and for all we want to be exonerated from the unattainable expectations and assumptions of lameness which ominously hang over our heads. In others words, we are human dangit.

Myth # 1: Teachers know everything about everything

I can recall my freshman year of high school asking my Social Studies teacher what he thought happened to the people stranded on the island of Roanoke and what their final message of “Croatan” meant. Maybe you have no idea what any of that even means. Well, neither did he. And guess what; there is no reason you or he should have. I was so disappointed. How could someone so obviously incompetent ever become a social studies teacher? Why didn’t he know about this relatively obscure mostly uninteresting event in history that I had randomly happened upon and grown intrigued by? Teachers are supposed to know everything. Right? Nope. Not at all. This is an expectation that students harbor much more than parents or average people. And, though we should expect teachers to be intelligent and well read, the idea that teachers are all-knowing is just plain silly.

Myth # 2: Teachers are not cool people

What? Have you met Jackie Turner? Teachers, like most anyone with a career, are professionals. Part of the teaching profession is to be serious about your job. For teachers this often means being the killjoy in the room. We have this uncanny ability to take a fun atmosphere (fun as defined by 8th grade boys mind you) and with the simple wave of a worksheet turn it into a big ole bunch of lame. Alchemy I tell you. Well, as all teachers know, this does not mean that we cannot cut loose when we are not at work. Teachers have a love of the same music and film other people do. Our interests are broad. Sometimes teachers go out and dance (gasp) or even have a glass of wine (heavy sigh) from time to time. Teachers are people. They are as cool as people. Some people are cool, some are not. Hopefully, America, you are following my logic here.

Myth # 3: “Those who cannot do, teach”

Newsflash: Teaching is a doing. A big doing. Doesn’t this old adage just get under your skin? It does mine. The quickest way to convert someone from this school of thought is to have them teach. Now, I don’t want to turn this into some big woe-is-me, my job is soooo hard sob fest. Teaching is a very difficult profession that requires a lot of skill, knowledge and responsibility (note: that is not to indicate that I harbor any of those traits in abundance though I respect many teachers who do). Yes, teachers teach about a particular skill or area of knowledge rather than “do” or implement said knowledge in some kind of career involving mathematics, history, science, etc… Teachers’ doing is different than the doing being referenced in the infamous phrase above. Teachers’ doing is the doing of teaching itself. Our craft is not only science and mathematics but classroom management, parental communication, managing a schedule filled with many very, very important meetings, community involvement, lesson planning, professional development, grading, parenting 20-120 kids for 7 hours a day 9 months a year and the list goes on. If that is not a doing I will eat my hat (note: someone please make me a cookie hat just in case).

Myth # 4: Teaching is easy i.e. “you get the summers off”

All you have to do is go stand in a room for 9 months out of the year and you get great retirement, every holiday off, snow days and a two month plus summer vacation. Here is my response to this most basic misconception. See myth # 3. Teachers deserve that time off and a starting salary of $60,000, minimum. Maybe there should be a few free trips to the spa thrown in there. A company car? Discounts on everything? The possibilities are limitless.

I think there is no shortage as to the number of myths being circulated concerning teachers. My hope is that my fellow readers will help me in uncovering those myths here in the comment section. I am interested to read what myths about teaching (or any profession) you want to see corrected.

Disclaimer: I actually love teaching. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I am some unhappy naysayer. For all of its pitfalls, it is a very rewarding and enjoyable vocation. My experience tells me that most teachers feel the same way. Their willingness to accept this status further indicates their unfathomable awesomeness. Thank you to all the teachers who read this and devote their time to education.


Now for my list of awesome/not awesome


1.) Omelets- Take four or five of the coolest foods you can imagine and cook them in a blanket of eggs. The possibilities are endless. Brilliant combinations of cheesy goodness. They make me very happy.

2.) Bicycles- Seriously, go ride one. They are just so much fun. I wrote a haiku about it…

The wind in my hair

Pedaling under the sun

This is exercise?

3.) The smooth- The surface of the peanut butter when you first separate the foil seal from the plastic jar is perfect. The unsullied tabletop flatness of a fresh carton of ice cream is heaven. They beg for my spoon. I love the smooth.

4.) Being surprised by good smells- Maybe you’re just driving around and you get the smell of donuts, fresh cut grass or barbecue. Or, you walk into someone’s house and they are cooking or just cleaned with lemon oil. There is nothing like a good smell that finds you.

5.) Gardening- Eating your work is priceless. Watching it grow is even better. Sharing it is the best.

6.) Having a significant other with a blog- What a wonderful window into their mind. Some may find things they do not want there. I find only pure, unadulterated coolness ;-)

Not Awesome

1.) Ticks- Worst bugs ever. No one has ever discovered a tick on them and been excited or happy about it. One of the best things about having chickens is knowing that they eat ticks. Get em’ chickens.

2.) That moment the next morning when you realize the politician you really did not want to get elected did- I’m not naming any names here but this is a crappy feeling.

3.) Allergies- Seriously? Why are so many enjoyable things intolerable? Grass, dogs, flowers, cats, gluten, etc… are all really good things that make some people very miserable.

4.) Calories- Why ice cream and broccoli are not equally good for you I will never know. Sometimes I get to thinking that there is justice and balance in this world and then I remember this.

5.) Someone has killed the smooth- One bite out of the peanut butter, one spoon dipped into my pristine ice cream and my heart drops.

6.) How much your butt hurts after riding a bike for the first time in a long time- Do not let this discourage you from number 2 in my awesome column. It gets better.


In the spirit of continuity and keeping up with the blogging Joneses (Lindsey, Caroline and Liza) I have decided to include a special little recipe of my own...

Recipe: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

1.) Get two slices of bread

2.) Spread peanut butter on one slice and jelly on the other

3.) Put the slices of bread together so that the peanut butter touches the jelly

This dish is best served on a paper plate with cold milk. Preserves and jam can be substituted for jelly.


  1. Andy,
    I have never met you, but believe we could be cut from the same cloth. I absolutely LOVED the blog! I too am a teacher, of special education. I currently teach students with moderate/severe disabilities in Nashville and I will proclaim from the rooftops that all your myths are just that: MYTHS. I work harder in my 180 contracted days than most people do in a week. I teach some of the best and most loving kids that God ever put on this earth. The rewards that I see give me chills. For example, watching a child finally after 10 years in school be able to write their name, tell time, or pay for a meal at McDonalds makes my chest swell with pride.

    Your myths are so spot-on about how society feels about teachers. How sad! Because when you think about it, most parents would proclaim that their greatest accomplishment or possession is their child. OK, I am right there with you. So, if we are all lazy, want the summer's off, non-do'ers, then why turn your greatest of greats over to us every day for nine months to teach and shape? My advisor at WKU once said "There is no job that holds greater importance than teaching. Each day we shape the future of our world, one child at a time". So, I would say to our naysayers, be careful of your words; they don't taste so well when you have to eat them!

    Again, LOVED the post! I would love to meet you some day. Maybe we should have a "blog party" in Burkesville. I will offer up my farm as a rustic gathering place if needed!

  2. Thanks Kristi. I appreciate your comments. I'm sure that thousands of people would show up for our "blog party". And, considering that most of them would be teachers, things would probably get crazy. Just don't tell our students!

  3. Isn't it fun being a part of Pillow Book, Mr. Wiggins? I called my cool Aunt Jackie, "Mrs. Jackie," until one day at her house (I was in 7th or 8th grade) she told me that, "it is okay to call me Aunt Jackie or just Jackie." How cool to be able to call "Mrs. Jackie" by her first name, of course, she is my aunt and like a second mom- it just shows how hard it is to drop the teacher title. To this day, I still refer to former teachers as, Mrs. Beverly, Frederick, Braber, etc, etc. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Last week, I was surprised to run into a former student that had moved moved to South Carolina almost two years ago. As soon as he saw me, he started running towards me yelling, "Lindsey, Lindsey." Lindsey? Wow, had he grown up, not only had his communication skills improved(he is diagnosed with Autism), I was now no longer a "Mrs."- I was Lindsey. Well, he has achieved something that I may never master. :)
    Enjoy your very much deserved summer vacations, Mr. Wiggins and Mrs. Carter!! :)

  4. Oh yeah- your recipe looks great-must try with some avocado!

  5. The myths about teachers/teaching profession mentioned in this blog have been around for a long time. Fortunately after having taught for 29 years I can tell you that there are many people who also seem to appreciate and respect teachers. Many times even a student you had in class 10 years ago may even thank you for the help you gave them. What we have to remember is that we teach because we love children and want to help them be all they can be. There is no better feeling than knowing you have made a difference in the life of a child. Kids that enjoy school may do so simply because of the teacher. Making learning fun may mean that you do some embarrassing feats like turning cartwheels when a student performs well on a test. Kids are such wonderful creatures.

    Andy and Kristi I wish you a long and happy career in education. Don't let the crazy myths discourage you. You will realize in time that many situations in dealing with adults will require you to just smile and nod.

    Lindsey thank you for being such a great person. I love being your aunt. By the way Happy Birthday on Monday.

  6. I definitely want to plan a blogging party, complete with PB,J,&A sandwiches and lots of head nodding and silence.
    Love you all!