Friday, November 14, 2014

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.




            



                

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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. 


 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

iLife: The Struggle to NOT order the new iPhone continues...

It’s no secret that I’m an Apple addict. When they write my life story, in fact, they might just call it iLife.  

Okay, not really. I just really love my iPhone. And my Apple TV. And my Macbook Air. Not the iPad so much (although the hubby uses that. For a guy who hates technology, he really likes that iPad) though. And, full disclosure, I do my reading on a shamefully un-Apple Kindle, track my fitness with an Apple-friendly Fitbit, listen to music (from my Apple device) with Bose headphones, and drive a non-Apple car (but only because the iCar doesn’t exist yet).

So obviously, I want an iWatch, even though it may replace my Fitbit.

In olden days, I was the first one in line at the Apple Store for the new phones. Yes, I was a later convert to iReligion, not joining the iRevolution until I got my iPhone 4S. But once I had it, I was hooked. I was up at 3am to order that first one at midnight Pacific time (which, honestly, is only a little earlier than the ungodly hour at which I wake up on school days to get a morning iCardio session in anyway). And I did the same with my current iPhone, the 5S, because, hello, they offered a new iColor for that one! And even though the back is always covered in a super cute case, everyone could tell from the front that my phone was far superior to theirs based on that little gold ring. And after all, that gold ring is what every little girl dreams of!


(I mean the ring around the button on my iPhone. NOT a wedding ring. Although I like having that ring too. Gollum would be so jealous that I have BOTH kinds of gold rings! Suck it, Smeagol!)

However, because I got that gold iphone 5S last year, my contract isn’t up with Verizon for another year. And yes, I’ve thought about breaking my contract and going to AT&T for the new phone, but I’m on a family plan now. And there are other people’s phones at stake (namely my darling husband, who has my old iPhone 4S because he had a nasty habit of buying Samsung phones with keyboards and then breaking them. Not because they were pieces of crap—which they were—but because he would get angry when the technology on them didn’t work exactly how he wanted it to and throw them on the ground. After the third time he told me his phone “broke,” which is code for “I had a temper tantrum and threw it,” he was assigned my old phone. Which, despite his assertions to the contrary, he adores. Because it’s an Apple product. And I won’t hear any iProtestations he makes.). So terminating my plan isn’t a feasible option.

Nor is paying out of pocket for the phone without the contractual upgrade, because I seem to have somehow unwittingly turned into an adult with financial responsibilities.

I know. It’s terrifying to me too.

But the husband and I bought our dream house in February, which, while still being our dream house, is also a money pit. And when it comes down to having hot water to shower with or the iPhone 6, I’m afraid the hot water wins.

Let me rephrase that: hot water is the bigger priority, but only because I’m not that impressed with the iPhone 6.

Sacrilege? Yes. But before you excommunicate me from the iChurch of Apple iSaints, hear me out.

I, like many Americans, struggle with shopping addiction. We’re living in a material world and I am a material girl. On a teacher’s salary.

Shh. Did you hear that? It was the sound of debt mounting.

I’m not as bad with it as some of my shop-a-holic brethren, but I’ve been known to assert my control over a bad situation by binge shopping. And this iPay thing sounds like a recipe for disaster when you can simply wave your phone at a cash register and take home anything you want.

I actually like the act of waiting in line (okay, not that part) and pulling out my wallet, then carefully selecting which credit card can handle the purchase I’m about to make. It forces me to ask myself if I really want what I’m buying.


Waving a phone to pay is like getting frozen yogurt. It sounds so innocent—until you load your cup with all of the candy toppings and are suddenly eating six times your daily recommended caloric intake in one delicious sitting.

No bueno.

But I could learn to exert a level of self-control over my purchases, even with the freedom to pay with the device that is already always in my hand.

My bigger gripe with the new phone is the size. I know that older people (cough my dad cough) think the iPhone is too small as it is. Their receding vision necessitates a font size that can be seen from space (seriously, you can literally read my dad’s phone from space. He uses 12 trillion point font. Yet he claims he can see perfectly and doesn’t need glasses. iDenial much?), and a larger phone will allow more than one letter to be displayed on the phone’s screen at a time. So I actually think that the iPhone 6+ is a great option for the older generation and people who don’t mind having the equivalent of an iPad mini as their phone.

I, on the other hand, have 20-20 vision and don’t WANT a bigger phone. I actually wish the iPhone was about half its current size. I don’t use it as a reading device or a video watching device or a gaming device. I prefer to use my Kindle, my television, and social life for all of those purposes. Tabletizing phones doesn’t help the fact that an iPhone is already too big to fit in a fashionable woman’s pocket. So I’m actually really disappointed that the iPhone 6 is ALSO bigger than the current models.

So, I’ll wait, hoping in vain that when the iPhone 6S comes out, the S will stand for smaller.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be on the corner panhandling for money for the new iPhone by the end of the week.

iLife forever!