Monday, April 14, 2008

Comments about Lifestyle

by Olga LaPlante

I have had a random conversation with an assistant principal recently, and here is what was said:

"Are you an administrator?"

"Yes, an assistant principal."

"Did you teach before?"

"Yes."

"Would you go back to teaching?"

(Of course, I expect him to say something like, I would, or I work with the kids so much, I don't have time to think about it... Or something like that)

"No, I don't think I can take the pay cut. You get used to a certain lifestyle, you know."

Now if he were a teacher with that attitude, school would be a wrong place for this person. What do you think?

We are not doing this for free, right, but there has got to be some satisfaction that you get from your job, and it's not money.

1 comment:

Ed Latham said...

I feel that many do get into teaching because they love what they do and feel they can make a difference. However, the educational system seems to encourage the stasis quo and marginalization to the point that many experienced teachers loose some of the energy they once had. Add in that much of our American society hold teachers and the profession in low regard compared to other licensed professions and it is no wonder that many teachers start looking at other motivations as they progress in years. The running joke in every corner is that teachers teach because of the great pay, stupendous retirement plan, and of course all that time off. Anyone that has ever worked in the classroom knows different.

There has been talk in the state for years about programs or stimulation packages to encourage new teachers and to try to keep some teachers in the field. They are all nice gestures, but has anyone looked at what teachers get in other countries? The respect afforded teachers in some countries might go a long way in our country in helping to retain or encourage teachers. Teachers, for the most part, give of themselves on so many levels and live so much of their lives for their students and how are they rewarded? Complaints of teacher salaries, that take too much of out taxes, flood our politics every election year. More and more social advocates urge schools and teachers to pick up more and more social obligations that used to belong to the family culture that is dieing at exponential rates. The sue-happy population finds teachers a great target and schools are constantly in the news usually because a teacher cared too much about a child that was in need.

When we contrast that with the respect afforded teachers in other cultures, one has to sit in awe. Even if no monetary rewards exist, some societies looks to teachers with reverence and appreciation for all they do to help young people grow up well. How often do our teachers feel respected. Better yet, how often do they even hear that they are doing a good job.

Until our culture (including teachers) establish a mentality that teaching is an honorable, vital, and respectable position in life we will always have those that are simply collecting the paycheck until something better comes around. Raising teacher's pay is a nice gesture, but has side effects that can negatively affect public perception of teachers.

Even if you feel your teachers are doing well to maintain or teach to the middle, please let them know that you appreciate their efforts. There is much people can complain about in education. The is much people can celebrate as well. Sadly, out culture thrives on negativity and as such we can only focus on the negative, which in turn kills much of the positive energy that tries to survive every day in the field. To those teachers out there still with energy and drive and the belief that you do make a positive difference in children's lives every day...I give thanks and willingly work along side you knowing that teaching is a lifestyle, not a job.