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.

            

                

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. 

     
     
     
     

    Do teachers get detention for being late too? I hope not…

    It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have a problem with chronic lateness. I know that the psychological explanation for this is that I value my time more than the time of others and therefore am just a horribly rude individual who has no regard for anyone else.

    In other words, psychology just called me a giant jerk.

    Which might be the direct result of me skipping all of my psychology classes in college, then acing the tests. Well played, psychology, well played.


     But in reality, the answer is far more complicated.


    Actually, it’s pretty simple. The universe hates me and conspires against me to make me late, no matter what I do.

    Case in point: my resource teacher sent out a very tactfully worded email just before spring break warning the English department that if we were going to be out of the building for more than 15 minutes, we needed to take leave. Which included leaving early if we were off seventh period (guilty last year… unfortunately, I teach seventh period this year, so no more sneaking out at 2:09 to beat the onslaught of student-driver traffic) or arriving after 7:25, even if we are off first period.

    Which, I’m pretty sure was aimed DIRECTLY at me as I have had to slink past my administrators in the front hallway more times than I can count at approximately 7:27. They’re very nice about it and usually just laugh at me, while I hang my head in self-inflicted Jewish guilt and shame while whispering vows to arrive on time the following day.

    Or at least sneak in another door of the building.

    But after that email went out, I knew I could NOT be late anymore. My leave days are FAR too valuable to be wasted on my chronic lateness. Well, okay, OFFICIALLY, they’re not right now because there are no US Bruce tour dates on the horizon. But those days carry over to future years. So I still plan to hoard them like my mom is hoarding baby clothes in the desperate hopes that I will soon become impregnated by my perfect (aka Jewish) boyfriend. So being late is NOT an option! (You hear that mom? I meant that as a double entendre! It’s not happening any time soon, so there’s NO reason for them to know you by name at Buy Buy Baby! I’m on to you woman!)

    So for the first day back from break, I had a foolproof plan: I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than I would normally wake up, knowing that I would need those full 20 minutes to arrive at school two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Because arriving at 7:27, the parking lot is as empty as the shelves of a DC area grocery store when a single flurry is in the weather forecast. Any time between 7:03 and 7:25, however, it’s like the world’s worst game of Mario Kart as every horrible teenage driver and angry, late-for-work parent drives the wrong way down one-way lanes to get the kids in the building on time.

     So using math (for the first time since high school calculus—don’t let your math teachers lie to you kids, you’ll NEVER need math in real life!), I calculated that it would take me ten times as long to make it through the parking lot, ipso facto, waking up 20 minutes earlier was a definite way to arrive at school on time.

    Except that math failed me when I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and woke up at 7:02. EPIC FAIL.

    But I’m a survivor! I picked myself up from that catastrophe (and may have texted my work BFF, who came and snuck me in a side door. LOVE YOU!!!!!), and tried again yesterday.

    And I did it! I woke up at 4:40 (because I’m a psycho exercise addict and was more willing to wake up twenty minutes earlier than cut my 5am workout short), did my whole 5am (sorry, 4:40am) workout, got showered, dressed, prettily made up, and hustled my cute little teacher butt out the door BEFORE 7am! It was wonderful! A miracle! It was like the heavens parted and Leonardo DiCaprio himself descended on a cloud with a choir of angels to praise my ability to leave the house early enough to get to work on time! Hallelujah and praise Leo!

    I stuck to the plan exactly and drove like a demon, just like I always do when I’m running late for work, and I arrived within a quarter mile of the school with twenty minutes to spare!

    Where I then sat, for the next twenty minutes, waiting in the turn late to get into the school because two teenage drivers got into an accident and were out of their cars screaming at each other, taking cell phone pictures of the damage, threatening to sue each other, then stopping for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and smear on the side of the road, while blocking every lane of traffic.

    I finally got around all of that (they could have at least offered me a bagel!), pulled into the parking lot, ran (no easy feat in high heels, let me tell you! But I was dedicated! I would get there on time, even if it meant a broken ankle!) to the school, composed myself, and walked in the front door.

    At 7:27.

    Because I forgot that it doesn’t matter what time I leave my house. I could leave at 6:03 or 7:23 and somehow, through some vortex in the space-time continuum that I do not, cannot understand, still arrive at school at 7:27 each and every day.

    So maybe it’s a good thing that there are no impending Springsteen tour dates. Because it looks like I’ll need a little time to save up some more leave before he plays any more US shows. And if anyone wants to prop a door open for me and save me the humiliation of trying to come up with a valid reason other than that I’m chromosomally incapable of arriving places on time, I’d appreciate it.

    Why did the goose cross the road? Because it hates me…

    Monday morning, as I was driving to school, I had a near death experience.

    I almost hit a goose.

    Granted, that probably wouldn’t have caused MY death. But it would have damaged my car, and at that point, I would have gotten out of the car and if the goose wasn’t dead, I would have made sure it felt the full force of my wrath.

    But there I was, driving to school, following the speed limit exactly, because I’m never running late in the morning (yeah, I can’t even type that with a straight face. Fine, I was running massively late and therefore speeding. And on the phone with Darya telling her about some less-than-blog-appropriate exploits from my weekend. And putting on lipgloss. Texting while driving may be illegal, but I’ve never seen a law against applying makeup while driving. Which, to be honest, is probably more dangerous than texting while driving in my case), when all of a sudden, I’m forced to SLAM on the breaks, praying that there isn’t a car following too closely behind me, to avoid murdering this poor, bewildered creature that happened to cross my path on Montgomery Village Avenue.

    Which I’m sure scared Darya as much as it scared me, because mid-sentence, I suddenly screamed, “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!” Not what you want yelled in your ear at 7:15am.

    I stop just in time. And so does the goose, which then proceeds to plant itself in the middle of the road and glare at me.

    Now, I’m a teacher. I’m good at giving the glare of death. But I could learn a few things from this goose, because not only was it NOT budging, I was pretty intimidated by the way it was looking at me.

    But I was late for school. (Or if my principal is reading this, I was on time and didn’t WANT to be late for school! Honest!) And that goose was in my way. So I did what any normal person would do. I ran the little bastard over.

    Not really. I actually honked my horn.

    Nothing happened.

    I rolled down my window and tried to reason with it. “Hey goose! Get out of my way!”

    Nothing.

    And finally, the goose won, because I backed up, got into the other lane, and drove around it. And I swear it was glaring at me in the rearview mirror as I drove away.

    But, with that behind me, I continued on my way to school, only mildly later than I had already been, and didn’t think more of it.

    Until Tuesday. When I was driving along, late for school, applying my lipgloss, and rocking out to the new Bruce album, which came out that morning, and suddenly had to jam on the breaks again and scream “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!”

    Yes. There was a goose in the middle of the road. And I swear it was the same one because it was sitting there waiting for me. Glaring at me. Making it perfectly clear through its evil goose-telepathy that it was daring me to hit it.

    And once again, I tried reasoning with it, I tried honking at it, but in the end, had to go around the goose.

    I do understand that normal people would probably assume it was a coincidence. The odds of it being the SAME goose are pretty small, and clearly geese lack the intelligence to glare at me maliciously while shooting evil mental telepathy at me.

    But I’m not normal. Because I understand that the avian world is out to get me.

    Need proof? My first complete sentence was “duck bite hand,” which was the result of the first time a bird attacked me. Then when I was two, an ostrich attacked me for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a petting zoo. And there was the one that almost pecked my brother’s eye out at the San Diego zoo. And the seagull that pooped on me at the beach. And the one that defiled the inside of my new convertible the day that I got it. Birds are evil, evil creatures. And for whatever reason, they have identified me as their primary target.

    At this point, the movie The Birds scares me more than ET does, and that’s saying a lot.  (I don’t care if you loved that movie as a kid, that little alien monster is freaky!)

    So Wednesday, I left a couple of minutes early to foil the evil goose’s attempt to make me late to work again. And as I rounded the corner where the creature usually waits for me, I slowed down to avoid causing further damage to my brake pads.

    No goose to be seen.

    But now I’m worried. Because what if the goose WAS planning to ambush me again and didn’t foresee my ability to leave the house early? It’ll just be angrier now. And I’m completely positive that I’m going to go out to my car after school one day and it’s going to be sitting in the parking lot behind my car, leaving me with no escape route to avoid hitting it.

    Or worse, be ON my car.

    Not my car.  But clearly it CAN happen!

    Or even worse, it will have left me a present on my car. And not the kind I want. The kind Rosie leaves on my rug when she’s angry with me.

    Actually, now that I think about it, it might be worth the damage to my car to run the evil goose over.

    Game on, evil goose. Game on.