No one gets into the teaching profession to get rich. Teachers, like me, all understand that we’ll have to make due with a salary that is significantly lower than we could demand at other jobs. When I began my teaching career fifteen years ago, I wasn’t there for the money. I wanted to help kids connect with history and discover how much fun it can be to learn about the stories of our ancestors.
Every now and then, I look at the job market to see what is available for someone with a bachelor’s degree in history, like myself. The average starting salary I run across is around $70,000 per year. This starting salary is double what I started at and about $10,000 more than I make after nearly fifteen years teaching.
Every now and then, I hear someone say, “Teachers only work seven hours a day.” Comments like these drive my colleagues and me crazy when we arrive at Skyline High School in Oakland, California at 6 AM every morning and leave between 4 and 6 PM every night – unless there is a PTSA meeting, or a dance that needs chaperoning, or a play, or a recital, or a game. Then, we leave even later.
Every now and then, I hear someone say, “Teachers only work nine months a year.” These kinds of comments bother my colleagues and me every summer when we are at workshops and conferences learning how to do our jobs even better. Sometimes, my school will pay the admission fees for the conference. Sometimes, my school will even pay for my travel expenses. More often, my colleagues and I spend our own money to attend these conferences.
Teachers are not in the classroom for high pay (see my take on a pizza ad below.) We are not there waiting for June, July, and August. We’re there because we love children, and we want to help them grow up into creative, thoughtful, intelligent adults. I’d like to hear from you what motivates you to be a teacher; what is your reward?