To my fellow teachers out there:
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!!
Enjoy your big moment to shine! We all deserve a bit of appreciation. Unfortunately, it won’t be showing in my salary next year.
So let me go though a run down of my Monday of teacher-appreciation day so far. At our weekly Monday meeting from 7:30-8, we get told that we get to dress down every day this week! (Yay for the small victories). Then we get told to come see the principal to get/see/sign our contracts for next year (maybe yay?). I work at a charter school – no union (BOO!!!!!), no protection (Boo!!!!!!), and NO WAY of knowing what I could possibly be making next year (WTF?!?! – try to plan a life around never knowing what’s going down with your salary for the next fiscal year. I dare you.)
Normally, I’m not really one to complain about my salary. I probably make more than most of the other teachers at my entire school due to my whopping 9-years of experience & Masters Degree (most teachers at my school burn out after a year or two – some make it a whole half-a-year before throwing in the towel. Compared to most of the teachers at my school – I’m raking it in. Or at least I WAS – before Illinois screwed me over big time with that HUGE income tax hike. Thanks to that tax hike – as of January I started taking home LESS than I was making at the beginning of the PREVIOUS school year – so in effect the tax hike erased the raise that I got last year. So as if that’s not bad enough – I figured – well with my KICK ASS review this year, I was bound to be able to at least break even with a big raise this year. Maybe if worse came to worse, I’d end up making like $20 more per cheque than I had been making before the taxes went up.
Ah, how naive I still am. Illinois is broke. CPS is beyond broke. CPS keeps cutting the money that charter schools get. Therefore our CEO keeps cutting the money that WE get. Therefore – my pathetic raise – if you can call it that – will amount to about $45 more per cheque than I’m making now – which is STILL about $40 less than I was making before taxes went up. SOOOO if our ‘brilliant’ benefits package team manages to drop the ball again this year – that’ll make it more like $5-15 more per cheque – if they raise our rates at the same percentage that they’ve done every year of the past three. So in effect, in the past 3 years, I have had NO cost of living increase, and actually have had my pay CUT by the state of Illinois – a factor that my job apparently didn’t even take into consideration when drawing up this contract.
So what’d I do? Signed it. DUH. History teachers have no job opportunities. There’s no where for me to teach. Old dudes who like to coach football teach History until they die in good districts & hold onto those sweet jobs until the cold icy grip of death gives them no other options.
Take this guy: He’s 87 and still coaching/teaching.
DUDE GIVE IT UP!!!! I’m 30 freaking years old and keep waiting for all those damn jobs that my college education professors promised me. “You guys are at JUST the right time. Once all those baby-boomers retire you’ll have your PICK of teaching jobs in this country. They’ll be desperate for you!!! And with a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign degree you’ll be a top candidate!!!” Really???? Because I’ve been slaving away in an urban hell-zone for the past 9 years patiently waiting – honing my skills – becoming an expert – earning a Master’s degree – AND YOU PEOPLE JUST WON’T QUIT!!! EVER!!!! And while I’ve been stuck here waiting on all the so-called retirees to finally retire from the awesome suburban districts – I’ve been aging – and racking up the experience. Meaning that NOW – all those awesome districts will think that I’m too EXPENSIVE to hire because I’ve got 10 years under my belt now. So I’m damned if I work, and damned if I don’t.
So anyway, I get in the car after school today to drive to my private tutoring session with one of my rich kids in the district that I’d kill to even get a call from – and WHAM the phone rings. Some fancy-schmancy private school that I applied to 2 weeks ago and forgot about (its hard to keep applications straight when you put in 92 a year. I’m not kidding – I really do put in 92 a year. I usually get 2 phone calls, one interview, and no job offers per year). It was out of the blue, most places will email you and ask to set up a time for a phone interview – but this guy just jumped right in. I have NO IDEA what this school may pay their teachers. But it sounds sort of sweet. It’s in the suburbs – its selective enrollment – its high class. But high class private schools often don’t pay their teachers. And I don’t really know if I can afford to make less than I do right now. So he told me he had several more applicants to phone interview and then he’d be choosing 3 of the best to come and do a face-to-face interview/demo-lesson. I’m mostly putting it on the back burner. It’s not precisely the type of position that I want. But with everything that’s being taken from me at my current job – I don’t know how much longer I can afford to stay. 3 years’ worth of raises being taken totally away from me by raising taxes and benefits increases isn’t really helping me much either.
And now for some hilarious things to convince both myself and others that I actually don’t hate my job…. While teaching about the black plague the other day one of my students raises her hand & asks:
“Miss _______________, how long did it take you to learn all this stuff? I mean I know you read us the powerpoint notes, but you had to write them. And you remember them without even looking. And you aren’t old, but you know so much – how?”
So that made me feel pretty smart and appreciated. Another one:
“Miss _________________, sometimes I forget that you’re pretty because you always look so scary and mean in class.”
Me: “NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE ACTING SILLY AND TALKING AND LAUGHING ABOUT STUPID STUFF!!! EVERYONE LIKES TO ACT SILLY – BUT NOW IS NOT THE TIME. I LIKE TO ACT SILLY TOO!!!”
Kid: “Now that I refuse to believe”.
Me: “Well you’ve never seen me running around my apartment singing 80’s songs in my underwear. And if you have – stop being such a stalker!!!”
Kid: “Wow. I’m so glad that I don’t live in your neighborhood.”
And lastly – the best thing that a student has EVER said to me in class (this one is dedicated to all the hard-working under-appreciated educators out there):
Kid: “So Miss ___________________ you know how much money football players & basketball players make right?”
Me: “Yes. Tens of thousands of dollars per game.”
Kid: “But they get to play a game. Your job is like – actually important – and if you suck at it its actually a real problem. If they suck they lose a game. And your job sucks and it’s really hard. And theirs is fun. How is that fair?”
Me: “It isn’t. But you’re getting extra credit.”
Guys – we’re all worth it – despite having some of the lowest career-self esteem out there thanks to parents, the media, the government, and inappreciative kids. But there’s some that will always appreciate us – the makers of alcoholic beverages world wide.