Fortunately, this post title no longer pertains to us, but for what seemed like a very, very long time, sporadically between the months of September and May of last school year, Indy would come home from his student teaching and sing, "I work hard for no money! So hard for it, honey!"
While I was on my blogging break, and Indy and I were in the throes of living an entire year on one teacher's salary, I had the time to really analyze how difficult it is for a young adult to complete their student teaching experience and come out on top. And by "on top" I don't necessarily mean with a job offer, I mean, finish the experience without having a nervous breakdown, giving up all together, or going into serious debt.
Tomorrow will be Indy's fourth week on the job as a full time, tenure-track, sixth grade ancient history teacher (I still get excited just typing it out!) and he's already had his fair share of burning the midnight oil, working through his lunch periods, contacting parents regarding student behavior and hosting back to school night. Once our hell week was over, we actually found about 5 minutes to just sit with each other, and he turned to me and said, "I can't believe I was able to do all of this last year and not get paid one cent for it."
The next day, Indy sent me a text with a picture of his very first check!
All teachers, especially those who get paid on a 10-month plan as opposed to a 12-month plan (any other 10-monthers out there?!) know just how long and scary the summer months can be. We’ve all heard the teacher-haters out there complain to us about how we get “summers off” and “three months of vacation.” We all know how much we’d like to punch them all in the face, but we don’t, because we’re classy. But watching Indy bravely quit his full-time, well-paying job to finish school, watching him go through his grueling un-paid student teaching experiences, and finally, getting to enjoy his complete and total excitement about receiving his very first paycheck as a full-time teacher, has been incredible.
While the majority of passionate, great teachers- the kind who see it as a calling rather than a job- would be teaching regardless of the pay, I think we can all agree that for what we do, our profession is vastly underpaid. I don’t think I could name one teacher I know who truly does have their entire summer off. All of the teachers I know have at least one summer job, or even second year-round jobs, in order to make ends meet. In fact, this school year, in addition to teaching full time and taking a graduate course, I’ve applied for three other stipend positions at my school. If I get all of them, that means I’ll be doing three jobs this school year, in addition to teaching every day.
When you lay out all the details and do all of the math, especially if you’ve had a particularly rough week like Indy and I did last week, sometimes the sacrifices you make as a teacher don’t seem to add up. There are days, weeks, months even where I feel like I’m climbing a slippery slope, and for every one step forward, I take two steps back. There are days even now, with both of our incomes, where I come home singing to myself, “I work hard for no money, so hard for it honey!” because that’s how it feels. But at the end of the day, I love what I do and regardless of how much my paycheck says I’m worth, I know I’m worth more, and we’ll make it work.