Two weeks left of school; ...well technically three, (but that last one is so short I don't count it.) And like all teachers and students, I'm anxious to pack up and head home for a nice summer of
Just because I enjoy my summer off, however, doesn't mean it is the reason I teach.
In my first post reflecting on the Linchpin I mentioned that all teachers need to be artists. Seth Godin writes that "Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift."
That bears repeating-- "Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift." To be a good teacher, a teacher who is striving to create art, to embrace and learn the art of teaching, you cannot be in it for the summers off; we cannot be in it for the money.
(In it for the money?! -pause here for laughing to stop-)
If I took all the hours I work on my teaching job, throughout the entire calendar year- January through December- and figured out how much I made per hour it would probably equate to slightly higher than that of a camp counselor (which I have also done, thank you very much). So no, I certainly am NOT in this job for the money.
However, I have always been fortunate to work in districts that have a decent salary schedule, with modest yearly increases for experience, and that fiscally respect me furthering my education. I doubt that I could walk into an office job somewhere tomorrow and get paid the same amount (without a lot of searching..., maybe a move..., certainly a commute....) and so while YES teachers are grossly underpaid, I'm still managing (though sometimes barely) to make ends meet.
I've never heard a fellow teacher say he or she was "in it" for the money. But I HAVE heard teachers say they teach for their summers off. Sigh. I know. And what's worse, is that I've heard this several times. From brand new fresh-off-the-internship to about-to-retire-awesome-ubber-teachers, some people are performing their art for commerce. They teach for those oh-so-lovely week vacations twice a year, for all the official holidays off (Thank you Mr. President) and for a guaranteed nine week vacation every hot summer sun, and (lest we forget) the occasional time the phone rings and you hear, "Stay in bed, Mrs. White, there's too much snow on the ground for school today."
"Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift."
I'm glad that I am not one of those teachers. Yes, I appreciate the commerce teaching has afforded me, and I probably couldn't do it for free (I do have a mortgage payment!), but I give so much of myself to this profession. (I am also giving $240 a month in gas money to commute my gift.)
We cannot be teachers if we don't love, truly love, teaching- regardless of the summers off, the holidays, the pay, etc. We cannot be in this job for the commerce, we have to give our hearts and souls into this job. We owe it to our students and if we are only in it for the summers then we shouldn't be teaching.
I hope in two weeks when school lets out, teachers will take some time to reflect on where education has been, where it is headed, and where they believe they fit into the picture. To those who believe they have lost their gift I do hope you can get it back- your PLN may be able to help- but if you can't or won't, then maybe it's time to move on. There are hundreds of