Yesterday, a reader posted the following on my facebook page:

This is my first year to teach kinder (I am also a male, and proud to be a male kindergarten teacher). I am at school 10-12 hours a day. On the 10 hour days, I work a couple of more hours at home. On the 12 hour days, I’m too exhausted to work by the time I get home. But no matter how many hours I have worked in a day, I still never feel ready for the next day. HELP!!!???

A few hours later, an article titled The Exhaustion of the American Teacher came to my attention.  As I read the article, I had mixed emotions.  For sure, teachers have a heavy load to carry.  It’s easy to play the blame game and try to point fingers, but really what good does it do?

Here’s how I see it.  It doesn’t really matter who the blame lies with, the reality is, these kids need us.  As teachers, we may not have signed up for twelve hour days or some of the other issues the article lays out, but we did sign up to work with kids, open minds, and yes, change lives.  Maybe it’s easier when you work with five-year-olds (and truth be told, kindergarten isn’t just for five-year-olds anymore… my class ranges from four to seven years, but that’s another topic), but to me is simple: children aren’t to blame.

Regardless of the issues I see in class each day, it’s clear the child is never to blame.  Whatever issues you have at five aren’t your fault.  Period.  My job is lift them up, help them feel smarter, empowered, and above all else, loved. The corny songs of my youth really did get it right: I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way and love lifts us up where we belong.

Am I tired?  Of course.  Do I work more than I should for the salary I’m paid?  Absolutely.  Who is to blame for the pitfalls and potholes of the education system?  I don’t really have time to care.  What I do care about are my sprouts. I greet them each morning with a smile and hug and try to make sure they leave each day feeling smarter, prouder, and again, above all else, loved.  If they don’t, I have no one to blame but myself.