As a teacher, I am fairly certain that I could easily come up with an extensive list of reasons that all educators should get a raise for every single month of the school year. However, since October is my favorite month and, to me, always signifies change – changing seasons, changing colors on the trees, changing time with daylight savings – I thought it might be the perfect month to dream about a change in my meager teacher income! Let me take a moment to reiterate the word dream. Sadly, we all know that a raise in October, or any month for that matter, is a rare and unlikely event. On the other hand, we don’t teach for the money, we teach because we totally and completely love it! Well okay, most of the time we love it. And even on the days that we struggle to love it, ultimately we know that we have one of the most important and rewarding jobs in the world. So, pat yourself on the back for a moment and join me in dreaming up some of the many reasons that teachers deserve a raise in October!
By Margot Carmichael from Carmichael’s Class
1. Surviving the First Month(s) of School
The beginning of the school year always stirs up a good mix of emotions for me, as it does for most teachers. On one hand, I am devastated that summer is over and my alarm must once again be set to such a ridiculously early hour that even the birds aren’t awake yet. But on the other hand, I feel excited for a fresh start with a new group of little learners. And once I get into my classroom and get decorating, well, that’s when the real excitement begins. And then as I sit through endless pre-planning meetings, the excitement wanes. But then I meet my new group of kids, and the excitement is back! I think it kind of goes like this for the first few weeks of school, feeling happy about being back in my classroom mixed with a healthy dose of desperately yearning for lazy summer days again. By October, the reality of 5am wake-ups and having about 3 minutes total to accomplish eating lunch and peeing every single day has fully set back in. Hence, a raise would be the perfect little pick me up right about now!!
2. School Supplies
“You have to spend your own money on your classroom and school supplies?” I can’t tell you how many times my non-teacher friends have asked me that incredulously. My response is always the same – HAHAHAHAHA, occasionally followed by a few tears. While it is true that many kids come equipped with crayons and pencils and folders on the first day, it generally takes about 2 minutes before all of their personal supplies have been lost, stolen, or destroyed. So, aside from ensuring that I have an endless backup supply of crayons and paper and pencils, I also have to buy every single decorative or cutesy item in my room. Okay, I don’t HAVE to, I have seen teachers who keep a very bare and basic classroom (and probably have a larger bank account balance because of it). But, my classroom is basically my second home; if I have to spend all day in one room, I want it to feel cozy! And, of course, I obviously make my room cute so that the kids have an effective learning environment, not just for my aesthetic satisfaction. Obviously.
3. Fall Fashion
Above all else, back to school means having to peel those yoga pants off your body and put on real adult clothes. UGH. The yoga pants to real pants transition is a painful one. Truly, the only way to ease that pain is by treating yourself to a little back to school shopping spree! Hey, the kids go back to school shopping, so why shouldn’t the teachers?! Plus, whether it’s fair or not, it has been proven time and time again that a teacher who shows up well-dressed and looking put together commands far more respect than one who shows up in crocs and sweats. More respect equals better behavior equals more learning. So really, if you think about it, buying yourself some new clothes is actually in the best interest of your students’ learning.
4. Parent Conferences
Depending on what type of school you work at, the beginning of the year is often ridden with constant contact with parents – forming new relationships with them, getting to know which ones will be on your side, and quickly learning which ones should be avoided at all costs. Parent-teacher conferences generally fall right around October as well. An entire day spent being forced to smile while discussing each and every one of your student’s behaviors, social skills, and academic progress with their parents. FUN. (That was said with the heaviest layer of sarcasm, in case you didn’t catch it.) Really, I don’t think I even need to further explain why getting through parent-teacher conference day deserves a raise. If you have ever been a teacher and spent the entire day with all of your student’s parents, you know EXACTLY what I mean.
I saw a little button once that said, “I survived another meeting that should’ve been an email.” I cannot tell you how much I regret not buying that button and wearing it EVERY SINGLE DAY at school. Because that is about how frequently teachers have meetings, every single day. Sometimes twice a day!! Between pre-planning, PLC’s, faculty meetings, trainings, PD’s, committee’s, RTI meetings, clubs, IEP’s, ESOL meetings, parent meetings…my brain hurts just thinking about it. The most aggravating part? That button was completely accurate in that 90% of the meetings that teachers are required to attend could be sent in an email. When I already work about 70 hours a week but get paid like I work 20 hours a week, the last thing I want to do is sit in pointless meetings. If we can’t have a raise, can we at least all get that button?
6. Sore Feet
Seeing a teacher with their feet kicked up on their desk is something you will rarely witness. Really, you will rarely see a teacher sitting, period. I can honestly say that during the school year, my FitBit hits those step goals like a boss!! While the constant standing and walking is helpful for my waistline, my poor feet sure do take a beating. Even if you only wear comfy, cushy flats, you likely drag your throbbing, achy feet to your car each night after a long day of teaching. Schools should really install some type of foot massage device in the teacher workroom or padded floors in the classroom. Ah, it’s nice to dream.
Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. I love everything about it and you better believe that I break out those Halloween decorations the very second that Oct 1st hits. Sadly, my school does not allow Halloween decorations in the classroom or any kind of serious Halloween-based celebration. We can celebrate ‘fall’, but not specifically Halloween. (deep sigh) Don’t get me wrong, I do Candy Corn Math and we cut open pumpkins for ‘scientific purposes’…basically, I find ways to sneak Halloween in, but we aren’t allowed to go into full-on spooky Halloween mode like I want to. Of course, this ban on Halloween doesn’t stop the kids from being excessively excited and rambunctious about the sugar-drenched holiday pretty much all month. And when Halloween falls on a weekday, watch out. I don’t know which is worse, spending the day of Halloween in school with the kids or having to deal with them the day after Halloween. Why, you ask? One word- CANDY. COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF SUGARY CANDY + Kids = TEACHER NIGHTMARE.
8. Preparing Holiday Parties
I generally feel like I need to start saving money for my classroom holiday celebrations all the way back in October. Between gingerbread houses, decorating cookies, small gifts and prizes, and classroom decorations a teacher can go broke on that last week of school before winter break. Not to mention the fact that constantly trying to get your students to focus for the weeks leading up to the holidays takes superhuman patience and strength, leaving teachers broke AND exhausted this time of year. Even with already knowing all of this, every year I still get overly ambitious with planning tons of fun holiday activities to do with my students – and every year, the second that they leave my room and winter break begins, I find myself laying on the filthy floor of my destroyed classroom shoving leftover cupcakes in my mouth as I curse my over-ambitious holiday spirit.
9. Shaping the Future
At the end of the day, teachers are truly the most selfless, generous, kind individuals in the world. As teachers, we not only shape and fill the minds of future generations with knowledge about math and science and reading, but we teach our students how to be good people, good friends, and decent members of society. We are more than just teachers to our students – we are parents, friends, counselors, doctors, and more. We show up every day simply hoping to help improve the lives of the kids that sit in our classroom, and in turn, we help improve the entire world. If that reason alone doesn’t justify a raise, I just don’t know what does!!
Carmichael from Carmichael’s Class
“Teaching 4th grade for four years has helped shape me as a teacher who is passionate about creating a classroom that engages and inspires my students, integrates technology-driven learning, offers real-world experiences, and breeds creativity. I have taught highly diverse classes with high populations of ESL learners, Special Ed learners, and behavior challenges–granting me a deep understanding on the importance of personalizing learning for each and every student. As a teacher, I am constantly learning and evolving, but the one constant is always putting my students first!”