Heather Wolpert-Gawron

The Seventh Affliction

By on June 6, 2008

Joanne Jacobs made me aware of a post from the Education Gadfly about the six main afflictions of teachers.  In a nutshell, they are as follows:

1. “An antiquated compensation system”

2. “A personnel system designed for the 1930s”

3. “A dysfunctional training-and-licensure regimen”

4. A system that allows “teachers surprisingly little control over fundamental decisions about their work”

5. A lack of teacher’s pay keeping up with the increased student enrollment since the 1950s

6. “Narrow ‘accountability’ systems for schools” 

But they missed one: 

7. Our inability to go to the bathroom when we need to

OK, for all you snickering folk out there.  If you aren’t a teacher (although why you would be reading this blog if you aren’t, I can’t say), just try it someday.  Just imagine, you teach from 8:10-12:15 straight.  You’re told to be standing at your door to monitor the halls during the passing periods.  The bathroom is on the other side of the building, down the hall, and there’s only one stall in the adult restroom which seems to always be occupied by front office employees who aren’t with students during class time.  Your time with students is active because, let’s face it, you aren’t one of those sitting-at-your-desk-all-day type of teachers, so for every period, you’re standing, walking, supervising, pacing, pointing, bending, you name it.  

Now time yourself.  No, I’m serious.  Oh, yeah, and passing period is only four minutes.  

You try to go that long and then tell me it isn’t an affliction.  

Now try it pregnant.

I once heard a rumor that the teaching profession has the highest incident of kidney disease than any other profession.  Or was it liver disease?  Or was it bladder infection?  Anyway, I said it was a rumor.  

I suppose you could call the front office every now and then for coverage or open the doors between classrooms for some neighborly supervision; but, let’s face it, how often can you do that without undermining the authority that comes from the students thinking that you don’t have bodily functions?  

So, the next time someone smiles and says, “Oh, you’re a teacher?  Must be nice having summer vacations and getting out at three!” and before I shove my Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists down their throat, I’ll reply, “Summer?  Yeah, that’s about when I get to go to the bathroom.”



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  1. Linda F
    June 8, 2008


    This drives me crazy. Women have the most need to go to the bathroom frequently, yet tend to have jobs that make it virtually impossible.

    Every year, I am eager to look at the schedule, to find out when I can work out a bathroom trip.

  2. heather
    June 8, 2008

    Absolutely true. We laugh, but where our prep lies in our schedule is not so much about when we can make copies as much as when we can go to the loo. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Lightly Seasoned
    June 14, 2008

    Oh, the joys of this job! I am lucky that the administrator that does the scheduling is pretty open to plan period requests if he can swing them. I take medication for my bp, plus I need to drink a lot of water for kidney stones (both afflictions that showed up with the job) — I need potty breaks. Isn’t this a human rights issue in certain parts of the world?

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