Could you be your child’s teacher? (Dedicated to Underpaid Teachers Everywhere!)

Teaching creates all other professions.  ~Author Unknown

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.  ~John Cotton Dana

We expect teachers to handle teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and the failings of the family.  Then we expect them to educate our children.  ~John Sculley

I have had the privilege of working with many excellent and dedicated teachers. Of course, there are some teachers who should have retired long ago, yet I would like this article to be in praise of the motivated, hard working, steadfast teacher. Oh, and for the majority of teachers they also are “the underpaid”.  Yes, I said UNDERPAID.

I have had an opportunity recently to observe up close teachers  functioning in suburban and urban area schools.  Some taught preschoolers while others were in public schools instructing students from the elementary to high school grades. Many were special educators.

Their day all starts pretty much the same. Often well before the clock turns 6a.m. they are in their car for commutes to schools quite a distance from their homes. These days teachers will endure long hours commuting as jobs are scarce. Many times this means sacrificing precious moments with their own families.

Upon arriving at school educators are hoping to get through the day without any “incident”.  Many teachers hope that the school day will be full of promise and “aha” learning moments. This is when light bulbs go off,  synapses are connected at great rates, motivation to be creative is demonstrated and learning flows like the Mississippi River. However, for many their day will start or  be interrupted by behavioral challenges, emotional drama and endless amounts of paperwork delivered under the guise of “needed asap”. Not to mention we are all “racing to the top” in the great national education marathon!

Why do I say that teachers are UNDERPAID? First, how many careers do you know where the employee are expected to do their job and also play the roles of parent, counselor, media specialist, nurse, entertainer (this is the  MTV – i”something”  age) and advocate? I can’t think of too many jobs where disrespect is often delivered on a daily basis by “clients” (or in this case students) and their parents!  I don’t know of too many people that are willing to work an eight hour day for pay and then another five hours for “free”.  In some settings, one would get overtime. Not teachers. They get mugs at holiday time and lunches by the PTO during teacher appreciation week- granted both are appreciated, but neither feed their family.

Please do not tell me that the salary of the teacher is commensurate with their work load and summers off. That is a HUGE fallacy. Summers are NEVER OFF for teachers.  ALL of the teachers I know spend a great portion of their summers catching up on CEU credits and their income on purchasing supplies for the students. Schools are now on austerity budgets and can hardly afford books that are not outdated let alone the simple touches which turn the school classroom from sterile to a warm environment.  Many decorate the classrooms from their own wallets. I know of dozens of teachers who supply their students with clothing and food because kids are often from homes that are poor, thus they arrive in dirty clothes and without any lunch money. Many are too proud to ask for free and reduced lunches or the parents don’t complete the required forms.  Yet, when a teacher sees a student being bullied due to lack of hygiene or go without lunch- they often pitch in both financially and emotionally.

I worked with a teacher who had a classroom of young second graders. They were given the last lunch shift- well after 1p.m. EVERYDAY she fed them granola bars or another healthy snack to keep them concentrating on their school work instead of their growling stomachs! It is no doubt that years later students still name her as one of their favorites. She was an excellent teacher, but even more – she was an exceptional role model and example of how one could display unconditional kindness to another human being.

ALL of the teachers I know have sought  extra coursework to enhance their skills. Some are not given a choice as per school district policy. However, the vast majority of my teacher friends are often students themselves. Many are seeking ways to enhance learning in their class for the child with special needs. Some are taking a foreign language (including sign language) in order to communicate with the growing bilingual population. Others are taking degrees in counseling, not with a goal to leave the classroom, but to understand and perhaps help the ever complicated children that are walking through their doors.

So,  if you think teachers are overpaid then reconsider. If I had my druthers I would double each ones’ salaries and give them a healthy budget to dedicate to classroom materials. Feel free to disagree with me. But, as you are typing the words of your comment remember to take a moment and thank the teacher who taught you language arts.


5 thoughts on “Could you be your child’s teacher? (Dedicated to Underpaid Teachers Everywhere!)

  1. Thanks Louise

    When a former student recently called me to talk with her about becoming a teacher, I told her about the long hours, low salaries, and many additional roles a teacher is asked to assume. We also discussed a lack of appreciation and respect that occurs in some schools.
    Then, she asked me if I like being a teacher. Would I choose to become a teacher again, if I could go back in time? I replied “Yes, I have loved being a teacher! I enjoy working with students and always learn a lot from them.
    My former student is a hard working and enthusiastic learner who will become a skilled and dedicated teacher. I hope she will receive enough support from administration and earn that doubled salary that you are advocating!

    Thank you for your appreciation and respect for the teaching profession.

    Kathy Bradbury

  2. Wow!! Great post!! You are right some teachers are not the ones described here in my opinion they are the exception rather than the norm. As a WAHM, I adjust my schedule twice a week to help in the classroom and have met the smartest kids and some highly dedicated teachers. And because of this I will continue to dedicate time in the classroom even after my kids have graduated.

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