Teaching runs in my family's blood, at least on my father's side. My great-grandfather was a teacher and later principal and then superintendent. My grandfather was a teacher, both at the high school and college level. My father, well....he did the non-teaching thing. So it skipped a generation, right? I got into the profession because of my grandfather-- ultimately it was he who guided me into it, but I can't help but think that he didn't do that on purpose.
After a little dabbling with an elementary education major (loved the little kids, hated the idea of me trying to teach them) I quickly changed to secondary ed. I never really thought much about what teachers made in my neck of the woods; I simply worried about getting a job once I graduated college.
I did land a job and never had to go through the hellish nightmare of subbing. (For more on that, check out Get Lost, Mr. Chips). If you want more specifics, I only went on one interview, got hired and I've been with the same school district ever since. Yes, I know I am one lucky duck.
I think subconsciously I understood then that when it comes to teaching I wouldn't make much money, that the rewards that I reap will come in a "non-monetary paycheck" as a colleague often says. I remember a friend of mine getting out of college with his master's in computer something or other and starting at $50k, a wage I have yet to attain despite my (seemingly) many years of teaching-- and this was over ten years ago!
The idea changing professions has crossed my mind, especially after I see myself making more each year but somehow remember having more money the year before, when I was actually making less. I guess you could say that I've flirted with the idea, but only briefly. It almost makes me feel physically sick to think of what it is I could do other than teach.
I can't even imagine what I could do in the "real" world with my skills. Some of my thoughts:
- I'd be a horrible salesperson; despite what most people say, students are a pretty captive audience that you do have at least a measure of control over-- you certainly can't discipline customers if they don't buy your product. "Sir, you're going to need to be here for another half hour, you didn't pick our sales special with your purchase. Please sit down over there, next to the manager's office and don't talk to other customers."
- The thought of being in an office makes me cringe, invoking cubicle-based nightmares a la "Office Space". Did anyone see my red Swingline so I can staple my TPS reports? "Yeah, I'm going to need you to stay here on Saturday and Sunday to get these things done."
- I would love to do something on Animal Planet kind of like The Crocodile Hunter. With my luck I'd step on an as yet undiscovered, highly venomous ultra-slow moving turtle with my bare foot, laying me up for some time. My invenimation footage would have gone viral on youtube while my nature street cred I once had leaves me for greener pastures.
So why did I write all this? AFT has just put out their annual report on teacher's salaries, with some interesting tidbits in there. You can look on their main site for it, or look for a link on the 'ol blog.
No, I understand that teaching is my calling, even if it won' t make me a millionaire. Like I said, I'm not here for the money. Truly dedicated teachers know that they're not walking into a wad of cash when they become a teacher, but our raises should keep pace with inflation, not lose ground to it. We need to be able to attract quality teachers who understand that while they won't be on Mtv's Cribs, they won't have to start going on food stamps and the like while they're teaching.