Do the math: If teachers were paid like babysitters, we would earn $200k+ per year #teacherproblems

At the risk of sounding like Rodney Dangerfield, teaching really is a job where I get no respect.

Not from the kids—the kids respect me plenty. Mostly because I talk to them like they’re actual people, have high expectations for them, and really care about them. Which is also probably why most of them call me “mom.” But that’s a story for another day.

So where does this lack of respect come from? Well, the answer is society.

We’ve all heard variations of the expression, “Those who can’t do, teach.” This is the single most condescending thing you can say to a teacher, because there isn’t a successful person in this world who would be where they are without their teachers.  

Does that mean that all teachers are wonderful and deserving of Michelle Pfeifer to play them in a movie? No. There are some terrible teachers out there too. Remember those ditsy girls who twirled their hair around their fingers and said, “I’m going to be a teacher when I grow up”? Yeah, they are. But there are also some pretty amazing people in schools today, and let me tell you, we’re not doing it for the money.

Let’s do some basic math here. (And yes, I understand that I am an English teacher, but I can still do basic math. But I’ll use round numbers to make life easier for everyone.)

A babysitter earns about $10-$15 an hour to watch 2-3 kids as the little darlings watch tv, pick their noses, and play with Legos. (Side note: do kids still play with Legos or is everything digital these days? Because my kids are definitely going to play with Legos. If for no other reason, they’ll play with Legos because they need to understand the pain of stepping on one in their bare feet. I’m not raising soft-footed wimps in my house!) Which works out to about $5 per kid per hour.

I watch 30 kids an hour. But my kids aren’t watching tv and stepping on Legos in their bare feet (although that would be an AWESOME punishment for misbehavior. Hmmm…). No, my kids are learning, and I am held accountable for that learning. If I just plopped all 30 of them down in front of a tv every day, I wouldn’t have my job much longer, tenure or no.

But let’s assume for a moment that I was paid babysitter rates for teaching my students. This would mean I’d be making $150/hour, which at eight hours a day, 190 days a year translates to roughly $228,000 per year.

We can quibble over some finer details of that, as I do have two planning periods in my day and don’t actually clock 40 hours in the building at school every week, but I do spend more than eight hours a day working when grading is factored in. But a babysitter isn’t actively involved with kids during the entire time either assuming that the children have a bed time, so using round numbers, the $228,000 a year model still applies without having to add in extra days for the summer, winter break, or spring break.

Living large, huh?

Hah.

In reality, I’m making about $1.50 per kid per hour. And I work in one of the highest paying school districts in the country.

Starting salary for a teacher with a master’s degree in my district is $51,128. Ending salary for that same teacher working 25 years or more in the system without obtaining additional degrees is $96,966.

This means that a 25-year-veteran teacher with a master’s degree in education is making less than half of the per-kid, per-hour rate that the 15-year-old girl who watches your kids on a Saturday night, then raids your fridge while watching pay-per-view movies on your account with her boyfriend, is making.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Now I understand that even teacher salaries follow the laws of supply and demand and therefore know that parents are willing to spend extra money to gain the freedom that comes with paying a babysitter to put their kids to bed so they can go to the movies and feel like normal people for an evening instead of just “Mom and Dad.” But if you want to know why school systems around the world are consistently outperforming American schools, that de-prioritizing of educational necessities is a huge factor.

And while there are many extremely gifted teachers who are slogging through the meager-salaried days to do one of the most noble and thankless jobs out there, there are an abundant number of people who would be just as or even more amazing, but who opted out of anything resembling teaching in order to make a more comfortable living.

The moral of my story is simple: If you want to complain that teaching is for those who can’t do, then start paying us what those who are out there “doing” are earning. Because I can promise you that if you raise teaching salaries to even just those bare bones babysitter rates, you’ll have one of the most competitive job markets around.

            

                

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You know you’re a teacher when… this post makes perfect sense! #teacherproblems

 There are days when I know that I have the best job in the world.
And those days typically fall between the middle of June and the middle of August.
 
Which is how you know that I’m a teacher.
 
 Because I am a teacher, I know that everyone brings his or her own set of experiences to the table.  We are all a unique part of the rich fabric of society and all that crap.

  

But the reality is, when you’re a teacher, you’re living a very different life from people who work in the “real world.”*
 
*Their term, not mine. Anyone who tells me that they have a “real” job when I tell them that I’m a teacher can expect a swift punch to the face. Seriously. Can you read this? Thank a freaking teacher. You’re welcome.
 
For those of you who are also in the trenches, I salute you. Enjoy.
 
For those of you who aren’t, use this as a guide to identify teachers and therefore know which individuals deserve your respect. Long gone are the days when teachers were required to be single women of virtue, but even without the schoolmarm dress and hairdo, there are certain tells that will allow you to spot a teacher in the wild.

 

You know you’re a teacher when:

  •   You have the strongest bladder of anyone you know. 
  • You know that yelling isn’t necessary. The power of your eyes alone can silence even the worst class. Looks may not be able to kill, but they can certainly tell you to sit down and STFU.
 
  • You think Michelle Obama’s side-eye is impressive… for a non-teacher.
  • You are an expert at hiding things in Facebook pictures. When scholars and historians look back at the social media revolution, they’ll think that standing with a hand behind your back at a bar or concert was a popular picture pose, such as the Napoleonic hand-in-the-coat stance.

Not so. It just means we’re held to a higher standard than normal people and are not allowed to be photographed near anything containing alcohol, even though we’re legally allowed to consume it.

  • You use more acronyms than a covert government organization. “Oh no, I can’t make the pre-BTSN IB/AP PLC during STEP because my RT booked me into a T2 MYP training with my AP and SDT about whether PARCC has BCRs and ECRs on it like the old HSAs and what the MOD looks like for IEPs and 504s.” THAT SENTENCE ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE TO TEACHERS! 
  •  You develop an ulcer from all of the coffee you need to keep you alive. Crippling pain in your stomach and sixty more Huck Finn essays to grade? Oh well, make it a venti, please!

  • You know that there is no hell worse than grading. Dante had no idea what he was talking about. The inner circle of hell is an endless stack of essays filled with grammatical errors and helicopter parents arguing every point with you.
  
  • You have an intimate relationship with at least one Xerox machine in the building and feel it should buy you dinner after the amount of time you’ve spent with your bodily appendages inside of it.
 
  • Any unlabeled food in your department office is fair game. It doesn’t matter if they’re stale, cookies are cookies. 
  • People who let you cut in front of them to run off 30 quick copies are gods. People who say they don’t have a lot to copy but actually do deserve to be thrown in a dungeon. People who jam the copy machine and leave it jammed deserve execution.
  • You get WAY more excited about snow days than the kids do.
  • You start hoping for snow in September.
  •  Back to School ads over the summer are scarier than horror movies.
  • Your signature has morphed into something completely unintelligible from the number of passes that you’ve signed.
  • You have become a human lie detector. “Oh your dog ate your homework? Nice try.” “Your grandma died? If I call your mom right now is she going to tell me the same thing? No? Didn’t think so.” “Your leg is broken? No way, that’s a minor fracture, I don’t care what the doctor says!”
  • You tell adults to put their phones away out of habit. And they do it. 
  • You have a Pavlovian response to bells of any kind. They aren’t the knell that summons Duncan to heaven or to hell—they mean you can run to the bathroom or that you have 45 minutes left until you can run to the bathroom.
  • You got the Macbeth reference above. 
  • Why yes, Diet Coke IS an acceptable form of currency. 
  • You have been exposed to every germ known to man and several that aren’t.
  • You spend more money on hand sanitizer annually than the GNP of many mid-sized nations. 
  • You ask a question and the entire class freezes, leading you to wonder if they secretly think you’re a T-Rex and can’t see them if they don’t move.
  • You can type without looking at the keyboard or screen. The computer has autocorrect, the kids do not.  
  • You’ve been called “mom,” even if you don’t have any kids.  
  • You have a preternatural ability to sense what’s happening behind you. This would make you an excellent driver, if you weren’t so sleep deprived.
  • You never sleep well on Sunday nights, even when there’s no school the next day.
  • You have students who tell you that they want to teach and you have to fight the urge to yell, “NO! Do something where you’ll earn money! Save yourself while there’s still time!” 
  • You understand that Murphy’s Law dictates that as soon as you are out in public someplace where seeing students and/or their parents would be disastrous, you will see students AND their parents. Who will post that they saw you on social media. Sometimes with pictures.
  • You despise light neon pen colors with an unabashed hatred. 
  • Calculating tips at restaurants is easy because 15% is the amount you take off for a late assignment. 
  • You know that taking a day off is much more effort than going to work sick.
  • You are the subject of someone’s dinner table conversation every night of your life. 
  • You love your kids, even on the days when they make you want to tear your hair out.
  • You make a difference every single day. 

     
     
     
     

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… unless it doesn’t get me out of school!

    Yesterday, as I was going about my job (you know, nothing too exciting, just educating the youth of America), I experienced one of the worst things that can happen to a teacher.

    It began to snow.

    Now, I personally get more excited about snow than any student could ever understand. Because when the kids get a snow day, they just get a day off from doing their homework. When I get a snow day, I get a PAID day off from doing my homework. Sorry kids, I win this one.

    But when the snow starts during the school day, it turns into every teacher’s worst nightmare. Because the second even a single flake falls from the sky, all hints of civilization vanish from the classroom and it descends into complete and utter anarchy. The kind of anarchy that makes Lord of the Flies look like a British etiquette class run by Audrey Hepburn.

    It’s pretty scary. Once it starts snowing, I tend to hide under my desk bomb-drill style and pray that I survive until they let us leave for the day. And if the kids find me, I’ve learned that playing dead works pretty well. Just like when you’re attacked by a bear. Lay perfectly still and you might survive.

    I also try to avoid ever finding myself in this situation by keeping the blinds of my classroom completely closed when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Why 40 degrees? Because the DC area’s weather is so screwed up that apparently the freezing point ranges from 4 to 25 degrees and 36 to 40 degrees. Between 26 and 35 degrees, water is still a liquid. It’s one of those paradoxes of the universe that no one can explain. I mean, there was an eight year period when I thought I understood—clearly God was mad at the Bush administration. But I don’t know how to explain the freakish DC area weather now.

    So even if there’s no hint of snow in the weather forecast, I’ve learned that it’s better not to take chances. I plan ahead and book as much time in the school computer labs as I can during the winter months because most of them in my school are windowless.

    But that doesn’t help much. Kids can sense snow the way dogs sense fear. The way animals sense earthquakes and tsunamis. The way I sense shoe sales. It’s instinctual and unavoidable.

     Although cell phones don’t help. Because as soon as one kid knows it’s snowing, the news spreads faster than the rumor of a celebrity death on Twitter.

    Last week for example, it flurried for about an hour. Now, I’m personally of the belief that flurries are the cruelest of all weather phenomenons. I’d take a tornado or typhoon over flurries any day. Because flurries get your hopes up for a snow day, but don’t deliver. And they make everyone and their mother forget how to drive even though the roads aren’t even damp, let alone treacherous.

    And when the first of the microscopic snowflakes fell last week, my classroom turned into a scene that would make a European soccer riot look sane. Literally. A kid whipped his shirt off and ran around my classroom at full speed yelling “IT’S SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWING! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” while waving his shirt over his head.

    Granted, that particular situation was my fault. I hadn’t closed the blinds that day.

    But once a kid is screaming and waving his shirt like a flag, there’s no real way to regain control of the class that day. Like honestly, what do you do then? Send the kid out, shirtless and screaming? Then the rest of the school will know how ridiculous my class got! Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure my class wasn’t the worst of the snow-mania. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I heard a rumor that some kids literally climbed out of a classroom window to roll in the snow. At least mine stayed in my room that day.

    Yesterday was worse, however. Because the weather had predicted that it would snow all day. So every three seconds, a student would run to the window to see if it had started. And short of covering the windows in electrified barbed wire or bringing a cattle prod to school (which I’ve been told is frowned upon… they don’t let teachers have ANY fun), there just isn’t any way to keep this from happening.

    It’s actually not that bad when we get out of school early though. I’m not going to lie, I don’t mind getting paid to go home. And even though the kids are more amped up than if they’d chugged six gallons of 5 Hour Energy (which I’m 100 percent positive shouldn’t be legal. I swear I had heart palpitations after drinking half of one. To misquote Shakespeare, an amphetamine by any other name is still an amphetamine), if they know they’re going home, they’re amped up and HAPPY.

    But when the message comes down from the powers that be that we’re staying for a full day of school, that excess energy turns to horror movie-esque rage. And it’s not directed at the people who actually make the decision about whether schools stay open or not. Oh no. It’s directed at any authority figure that the kids can find.

    Luckily, I’ve developed a solution to keep from being sacrificed to the snow gods when this rage strikes. If I complain before they do and louder than they do about the travesty of staying for the full day, they think I’m one of them.

    Which, let’s be honest, I am. At least when it comes to getting out of school early.