The latest image to go viral, besides the one of Kim Kardashian’s post-pregnancy backside, is a selfie taken by a high school student with his pregnant teacher having contractions in the background http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/10/florida_student_takes_viral_ph.php. As a female, as a teacher, as a female teacher who has survived being pregnant in the classroom three times without ever having her water break or giving birth in the classroom (much to her students’ dismay), I should feel outraged by this photograph capturing a woman’s greatest moment of agony! As a blogger who has never had anything go viral, I should feel outraged that an exploitative selfie taken by some punk kid will get a million more eyeballs than any of my blog posts! But when I saw the photo, I was too busy LMFAO to feel any outrage at all. This left Kafkateach wondering what was wrong her, or what was so right about this photo? Why was a picture of a Lil’ Wayne wannabe with his iphone earplugs, sunglasses, and huge grin while his teacher suffered in the background so humorous? And then it hit me. It’s because it so ingeniously captured the essence of teaching. If I could hold up just one photo in front of a classroom of future teachers, this would be it. I would hold it up and say, “This is teaching.” You could be vomiting up your lunch and some student would be whipping out his iphone, not to call 911, but to take a selfie with his puking teacher in the background. It would be plastered all over the Internet before his smartphone could be confiscated. That is the real life of a teacher.
Some Internet commentators, pundits, and politicians envision teaching to be a part time job with summers off, generous benefits, and yearly unwarranted pay increases. They enjoy blaming teachers for low test scores, the weak economy, and the downfall of America in general. They need to see this photograph with the title below it “This is Teaching.” Of course some of them might be quick to call for the teacher’s firing for letting this kid take his cell phone out in class. For letting him listen to his iphone. For letting him wear a wife beater to school. For letting him wear sunglasses in the classroom. Clearly, this pregnant teacher having contractions in the classroom is a bad teacher that deserves to be fired. I mean, come on, she’s obviously sitting down and talking on the phone in the photograph. This is a perfect example of why teacher tenure needs to be ended! The perfect example of how traditional public schools are failing! Oh, wait. This photograph was taken at a charter school. Oops.
If you have any other examples of moments in the classroom that capture the humorous agony of our profession and are worthy of the “This is Teaching” title, please share them by leaving a comment below. Kafkateach is off to figure out how to take good selfie.