Most of those complaints are justified.
Some of them are our own fault.
Summer vacation is a popular topic.
I know I do 12 (or 14 or 18 or 22) months of work in a 9-10 month school year.
But I also recognize two things:
1. Having an extended vacation each summer to travel is awesome, rare, and inspires legit jealousy.
2. Understanding how hard I work for that privilege is genuinely difficult.
So, yeah, occasionally I get asked about how nice it must be to have the summer off.
And yeah, I usually respond with details of all the unpaid stuff I do all summer.
Plus, I remind people how many teachers need summer jobs to make the bills.
That doesn't mean I can't own how lucky I feel.
I can travel more, for longer.
I have so many opportunities to learn and experience things to bring back to my classroom.
But to be honest, I don't get that kind of comment much.
Most of the time, people tell me how much teachers matter.
They make noises of sympathy and pain when I say I teach 9th grade English.
(I haven't made the switch to the new position teaching 8th yet)
Often, I have to counter negative stereotypes about how awful teenagers are.
I've frequently wondered if anyone realized how biased most adults are against teens.
That is a topic for another time.
Anyway, I also get constant looks of admiration.
Usually those looks are accompanied by "I could never do what you do,"or some similar sentiment.
Most people readily own that they mostly only like their own kids.
Even those who relate horror stories of teachers they or their kids have had aren't haters.
Sympathy seekers, maybe.
They usually recognize that one bad teacher does not a profession define.
Then too, I see such encounters as an opportunity to offer a positive.
Once in a while, someone will ask genuine questions about education.
Ok, once in a GREAT while.
It still happens.
I also get the rare dumb joke.
This one is my current favorite.
"Oh, you're an English teacher! I have a joke for you."
"What is the opposite of irony?"
It got me. Ha Ha Ha.
My favorite, though rarest, interaction is the person who is or wants to become a teacher.
Especially when they are positive.
It is nice to encounter kindred souls.
Those who genuinely understand your world and/or want to join it.
The point is simple.
Being a teacher is a good thing.
Yes, our profession is vilified by politicians and sensationalized by the news.
Yes, Hollywood reinforces ridiculous stereotypes about teaching.
Yes, most people believe what we do matters.
Yes, the average individual respects our profession.
I can't say those individual attitudes outweigh the bad stuff.
Instead, I would say all those little positives give me hope.
Hope is a good thing.