If you’re a teacher, you’ve seen the Buzzfeed articles and quizzes that begin with “You Know You’re a Teacher If…” or “How to Tell If You’re a Teacher…” I’ve read countless articles and completed many quizzes, and, yes, I am definitely a teacher. I go to sleep thinking about lesson planning. I freak out about classroom observations. My weekends include grading while Netflix provides background noise. I fawn over mugs and tote bags and cutesy office supplies. Sleep is my favorite hobby. I definitely fit the mold.
While it’s fun to see how universal a teacher’s pain is, it still frustrates me that we’re doing such a service to the world by educating the next generation and we aren’t treated as such. For example, look at how common the knowledge is that a teacher’s salary is nothing compared to a doctor’s or athlete’s. If a teacher’s job is so important, shouldn’t we get compensated more? It was my choice to be an educator, but must I get patronized because of it? No matter how long the list is that explains how difficult a teacher’s job is, it always ends with the sentiment that it’s all worth it in the end because we’re changing lives. Of course, a child’s light bulb moment is priceless. Unfortunately, student loans aren’t. Coming from a person with more than $100k in debt, a salary of $35-55k doesn’t feel like much, especially when forgiveness is only $14k.
What’s funny is the number of excuses people come up with to justify why teacher’s shouldn’t make more money.
“You don’t work in the summer!” (We don’t get paid nor do we qualify for unemployment in the summer, either.)
“You go home at 3pm!” (But I’m here until 6pm for students who need additional help, or grading, or preparing for tomorrow, or calling parents, or *insert job-related task here.*)
“Teachers are just babysitters.” (What babysitter do you know watches 150-200 children each day?)
One of the most difficult jobs is being a teacher. I’m not asking for a million-dollar raise (though, it wouldn’t hurt). I just think we deserve a bit more financial appreciation. Sallie Mae/Nelnet, appreciation in the form of complete loan forgiveness is quite acceptable.