(pic while doing laundry at our local laundromat)
Are PK-12 teachers blue-collar? Duh-fa? I was talking with a friend a couple of years ago frustrated about not having a voice in education. I told her that I am all but dissertation and am still paying student loans for my graduate school and still don't have a say. She said it is because teachers are considered blue collar.
I was like,"whaaaat?" Do I take that as a complement or an insult? Both of my parents had blue-collar jobs. My mom is a beautician and my dad (God rest his soul) was a mechanic and a truck driver. I learned my work ethic from my parents and I am grateful. On my mom's side of the family, I am the first to go to college. My grandpa was from another country and when he arrived here when he was 12 they put him in kindergarten because he didn't know English. That was in Chicago. Some of my relatives on my mom's side were in orphanages back then. While pandemic hobby researching on Ancestry.com I found that a lot of my relatives were housekeepers and saloon keepers in the Chicagoland area. I was surprised to see that one of my great aunts was a code cracker during WW2. She was listed as a secret agent on her death certificate. I am trying to learn more about her story. On my dad's side of the family, there are lots of teachers. And so the tradition continues.
Back to my friend, I must say that is an interesting notion that teachers don't have a say because we are considered blue-collar. I asked her why she thought that. She said it is because we work with children. I said what about all that time that teachers are in school to prepare. What about teachers with advanced degrees? Still blue-collar.
I am proud of my blue-collar roots. It has helped me to connect with families in many ways that a lot of my teacher peers can't. The teachers whose parents paid for their colleges have a different type of energy towards students and towards families. Most of my teaching experience has been working at Title 1 Schools.
The greatest barrier to my teaching has been school administrators who have no experience teaching special education. Yes, they may have had trainings and a class or two to complete the admin credential, but they haven't walked a mile in our blue shoes, so to speak. Since we moved to Northern Cali, I have been evaluated by school admin who have never taught special education before. When I have asked to be evaluated by a peer or an admin who has some special education experience, my requests goes unanswered.
When I taught in other states, most of the time the principals said that, "You have the expertise in your field and do what you know how to do/" and "Do your thing, Girlie." I even used to have admin who used to say that my classroom was a bright spot on campus. When I taught middle school in another state two of my school admin said when they were having rough days they would come to my classroom to cheer up. It wasn't me that cheered them up. It was my awesome students. I taught students who were severe and profoundly mentally handicapped (SPMH), I would rather say challenged though. We cooked together, planted a garden together, lots of functional skills. I tried to add the FUN to teaching functional skills and we did have fun! And thankfully, my admin was open to us all having fun while still learning. That was a while ago. It was presidents ago.
So back to collars, I'm not really one for dichotomies. However, they do serve as frameworks. For example, the Myers-Briggs has dichotomies based on Jung's theory of psychological types. Last time I tested, I think I was INFP. I will have to retake it to see what it says now, Now back to teaching---What do you think? Are PK-12 teachers blue-collar? And if we are, is that why often teachers don't have much of a say? Are teachers not educated enough?