Myths and Facts About Teaching

Discussion in 'General Education' started by RainStorm, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Nov 29, 2007

    I read this today in NEA's Newsletter. (Smiley's added by me!) I thought I'd share.

    Myths and Facts

    :)MYTH: Teachers make just as much as other, comparable professions.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the teaching profession has an average national starting salary of $30,377. Meanwhile, NACE finds that other college graduates who enter fields requiring similar training and responsibilities start at higher salaries:

    Computer programmers start at an average of $43,635,
    Public accounting professionals at $44,668, and
    Registered nurses at $45,570.
    Not only do teachers start lower than other professionals, but the more years they put into teaching, the wider the gap gets.

    A report from NEA Research, which is based on US census data, finds that annual pay for teachers has fallen sharply over the past 60 years in relation to the annual pay of other workers with college degrees. Throughout the nation the average earnings of workers with at least four years of college are now over 50 percent higher than the average earnings of a teacher.


    An analysis of weekly wage trends by researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that teachers' wages have fallen behind those of other workers since 1996, with teachers' inflation-adjusted weekly wages rising just 0.8%, far less than the 12% weekly wage growth of other college graduates and of all workers. Further, a comparison of teachers' weekly wages to those of other workers with similar education and experience shows that, since 1993, female teacher wages have fallen behind 13% and male teacher wages 12.5% (11.5% among all teachers). Since 1979 teacher wages relative to those of other similar workers have dropped 18.5% among women, 9.3% among men, and 13.1% among both combined.


    Teachers lost spending power for themselves and their families as inflation outpaced increases in teacher salaries last year, according to NEA Research. Inflation increased 3.1 percent over the past year, while teacher salaries increased by only 2.3 percent.



    :)MYTH: Teachers are well-paid when their weekly or hourly wage is compared with other professions.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Teacher critics who make this claim use data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its annual National Compensation Survey (NCS). But NCS data are based on employer surveys, and the NCS measures scheduled hours -- not the work teachers do outside the school day. Because teachers do not work the familiar full year and roughly 9-5 schedules that most professionals have, the comparison is one of apples to oranges.

    Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel explains that in the NCS data "Teachers are measured by days worked (say 190 official school days divided by five, resulting in 38 weeks), while others are measured as days paid (work days plus paid time off: breaks, vacations and holidays)."


    The bottom line: NCS data vastly understate the weekly hours of teachers and the weeks teachers work each year, and thereby significantly overstate the hourly wage or weekly wage for a given annual wage.


    If you believe the NCS hourly pay data, then you believe that English professors ($43.50) make more per hour than dentists ($33.34) or nuclear engineers ($36.16).


    :)MYTH: The school day is only six or seven hours, so it's only fair that teachers make less than "full-time" professionals.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Other professionals hardly have the monopoly on the long workday, and many studies conclude that teachers work as long or longer than the typical 40-hour workweek.

    Six or seven hours is the "contracted" workday, but unlike in other professions, the expectation for teachers is that much required work will take place at home, at night and on weekends. For teachers, the day isn't over when the dismissal bell rings.


    Teachers spend an average of 50 hours per week on instructional duties, including an average of 12 hours each week on non-compensated school-related activities such as grading papers, bus duty, and club advising.


    When the Center for Teaching Quality studied teachers' workdays in Clark County, NV, it found that not only did most teachers work additional hours outside of the school day, but that "Very little of this time is spent working directly with students in activities such as tutoring or coaching; far more time is reported on preparation, grading papers, parent conferences, and attending meetings."


    :)MYTH: Teachers have summers off.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Students have summers off. Teachers spend summers working second jobs, teaching summer school, and taking classes for certification renewal or to advance their careers.

    Most full-time employees in the private sector receive training on company time at company expense, while many teachers spend the eight weeks of summer break earning college hours, at their own expense.


    School begins in late August or early September, but teachers are back before the start of school and are busy stocking supplies, setting up their classrooms, and preparing for the year's curriculum.


    :)MYTH: Teachers receive excellent health and pension benefits that make up for lower salaries.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Although teachers have somewhat better health and pension benefits than do other professionals, these are offset partly by lower payroll taxes paid by employers (since some teachers are not in the Social Security system), according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

    Teachers have less premium pay (overtime and shift pay, for example), and less paid leave than do other professionals.


    Teacher benefits have not improved relative to other professionals since 1994 (the earliest data EPI has on benefits), so the growth in the teacher wage
    disadvantage has not been offset by improved benefits.


    The benefits of other workers would not have declined as much in recent years if they had the protection of a union, collective bargaining, and an independent voice on the job -- like public school teachers.


    :)MYTH: Thanks to tenure, teachers can never be fired, no matter how bad they are.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Tenure does not mean a "job for life," as many people believe. It means "just cause" for discipline and termination, be the reason incompetence or extreme misconduct. And it means "due process," the right to a fair hearing to contest charges. Quite simply, any tenured teacher can be fired for a legitimate reason, after school administrators prove their case. That's similar to what American citizens expect when charged with violation of a law.


    :)MYTH: Unlike other professions, teachers get automatic raises, regardless of how well they perform their work.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Name a profession in which people earn less each year! Through collective bargaining or state legislation, most teachers are placed on a salary schedule with pay "steps" or "increments" for seniority -- seasoning -- on the job and added professional development.

    Teachers never have a chance to stand still or go stale. They are rigorously evaluated, face recertification requirements, deal with ever-more-complex state and federal standards, and are expected to advance to the master's degree level and beyond.


    A well-constructed salary schedule rewards classroom experience, promotes continued professional learning, and promotes both retention and recruitment of quality staff.



    :)MYTH: If schools were allowed to grant merit pay, good teachers would be well compensated .

    :eek:hmy:FACT: The fundamental problem is low teacher pay, period. Merit pay schemes are a weak answer to the national teacher compensation crisis.

    Merit pay systems force teachers to compete, rather than cooperate. They create a disincentive for teachers to share information and teaching techniques. This is especially true because there is always a limited pool of money for merit pay. Thus, the number-one way teachers learn their craft --learning from their colleagues -- is effectively shut down. If you think we have turnover problems in teaching now, wait until new teachers have no one to turn to.


    The single salary schedule is the fairest, best understood, and most widely used approach to teacher compensation -- in large part because it rewards the things that make a difference in teacher quality: knowledge and experience.


    Plus, a salary schedule is a reliable predictor of future pay increases. Pay for performance plans are costly to taxpayers and difficult to administer. In contrast, single salary schedules have known costs and are easy to administer. School boards can more easily budget costs and need less time and money to evaluate employees and respond to grievances and arbitrations resulting from the evaluation system. Worse yet, there is often a lack of dedicated, ongoing funding for merit pay systems.


    Merit pay begs the question of fairness and objectivity in teacher assessments and the kind of teacher performance that gets "captured" -- is it a full picture, or just a snapshot in time? Is teacher performance based on multiple measures of student achievement or simply standardized test scores? Are there teachers who are ineligible to participate in a merit plan because their field of expertise (art, music, etc.) is not subject to standardized tests?


    By November 2006, 50 Texas schools rejected state grants to establish merit pay programs for teachers, tied to higher student test scores. Many schools reported that teachers opposed the idea or that administrators were reluctant to decide who should get a bonus and who shouldn't. Teachers at schools opposed to merit pay said it was not worth the extra money to break up the team spirit among teachers and spend time filling out paperwork for the program. In Bellaire, Texas, fifth grade science teacher Tammy Woods voiced her paperwork concern to the Dallas Morning News. "Most of us felt our time would be better spent working with the kids than working on the incentive-pay plan," she said. "We also felt there would be hard feelings no matter what happened because not everyone who worked to accomplish our goals would be rewarded."



    :)MYTH: Teaching is easy -- anyone can do it.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: Teachers, like many professionals, including accountants, engineers, and registered nurses, are trained, certified professionals. They have college degrees in education or in the subject that they teach plus a teaching credential.

    More than half (57%) hold master's degrees, and all have completed extensive coursework in learning theory and educational practice. Most find that teaching is a calling and a gift, which includes a love of children and an ability to engage them in the learning process.


    Education is also complex, demanding work that requires high levels of creativity, adaptability, thoughtful planning and resourcefulness -- much of which is learned from cumulative classroom experience.


    While there are many experts who excel in their fields, most do not have the ability to translate that knowledge into teaching strategies useful in a classroom setting.



    :)MYTH: The rewards of working with children make up for low pay.

    :eek:hmy:FACT: It is true that most educators decide to enter the teaching profession because of a desire to work with children, but to attract and retain a greater number of dedicated, committed professionals, educators need salaries that are literally "attractive."

    The intrinsic rewards of an education career are often used as a rationale for low salaries. But low teacher pay comes at a very high cost.


    Close to 50 percent new teachers leave the profession during the first five years of teaching, and 37 percent of teachers who do not plan to continue teaching until retirement blame low pay for their decision to leave the profession.


    New teachers are often unable to pay off their loans or afford houses in the communities where they teach. Teachers and education support professionals often work two and three jobs to make ends meet. The stress and exhaustion can become unbearable, forcing people out of the profession to more lucrative positions.
     
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  3. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    Nov 30, 2007

    very intresting...I like having the "facts" to back up what I have been telling people for years!!
     
  4. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    Dec 1, 2007

    Thank you for this info.
     
  5. Christine3

    Christine3 Cohort

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    That was fun to read! Thanks so much for sharing.
     
  6. Bio612

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Actually, that's not entirely true.

    They are only working summers at a 2nd job by choice. <shrug>

    I spoke with a teacher during the summer, and she is enjoying her summer remodeling her home...going on vacations up north, and just plain ol' enjoying her time off.

    There are quite a few other teachers I know personally that are treating their summers off as a GREAT vacation!
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oct 14, 2008


    Last time I checked, it wasn't much of a choice to want to be able to continue to pay the bills.

    You said in an earlier post that you want to become a teacher: You have a LOT to learn. If you do, in fact, know teachers who spend the whole summer "on vacation", then there's something else going on (like a reliable income from a spouse). That still doesn't take away that dratted requirement for continuing ed....

    Teaching is not the rosy job the general public thinks it is.
     
  8. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Oct 14, 2008

    From fall of 73 to 74 I worked constuction to save $ for college.
    I saved 3K and that put me through 4 years of college (books and tuition pretty much). I worked 20 hours a week all four years.
    My first year teaching 78-79 I made 8700 dollars. In 74 my younger bro dropped out of HS and went to work at a Sambos restaurant.
    Became and asst manager and made 18000. Even in construction
    I would have made about 11000 back in 73 with OT. Teaching has always been behind in salary. My brothers and friends with HS educations have always beaten my salaries..............BUT I love my job. I think if I had to do it all over again I would have taught 20 years and then gotten a nursing degree to make some decent money and another retirement.
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My school is decent enough to spread our salary out over ten months, which is the ONLY reason I could see taking a vacation over the summer. I'll probably still work over the summer. My husband lost his job yesterday and I have a feeling we'll still be working off the debt from the fallout well into next year.
     
  10. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Oct 14, 2008

    I had a summer "off" but that was by choice. I am still suffering the after affects of being broke all summer. Trust me, that summer "off" comes at a price. I should be solvent again by December, which means Christmas, which means, give me until March before I am back in black.
     
  11. Luv2Learn

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    Oct 14, 2008

    catnfiddle, do you mean over 12 months or over 10? I would figure that if you didn't work over the summer, you would still get a paycheck over those two months.
     
  12. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    Oct 14, 2008

    As a future teacher this info is very helpful yet DEPRESSING!! Granted I love the students I work with now(there are bad ones in ever bunch). I love children and that is the reason I want to go into teaching!
     
  13. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Maybe not for soe people, but it is true for me and many others as well. Even with a 12-month pay schedule, I need to make the extra money just to help pay for all the back to school expenses. I also work a second job during the school year to make ends meet. If I didn't bills would not be paid on time and my savings would be depleted. A second job is necessary if I am to be independent financially at all. Teachers who can actually use their summers for vacations are very lucky indeed. It just isn't realistic for me and others who are either single, putting children through college, trying to pay down the mortgage, etc.
     
  14. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Oct 14, 2008

    I work at a year round school so summer off for me is not an option. I have a friend who is "off" for July and August but since she moved from the Jr. HIgh to High school level she had to write lesson plans, set up her room, and attend a lot of workshops. She had no idea that she would ever have to step foot inside of the school during the summer. She changed careers to teaching after 5 years in another field and was unpleasantly surprised. I'm hoping some people do not decide to become teachers just because they think they will not have to work for 2 whole months out of the year :2cents:
     
  15. Annie227

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Don't forget that some teachers work a 2nd job even during the school year. I have one co-worker who teaches all day and waitresses in the evenings & on weekends. Her husband is a car salesman and the current economy is really hurting them. Another co-worker is raising her grandkids and is also working at a restaurant on weekends in order to make ends meet.
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oct 14, 2008

    me me me me me

    I'm there now...I have 30 minutes between jobs monday through thursday.
     
  17. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Oct 14, 2008

    I wish we could print up thousands of these pamphlets and distribute them all over the country. It would certainly help debunk some of the myths and silence (or at least quiet) some or out critics.
     
  18. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Wow! It was great to see this old thread activated again! The information is "timeless!"
     
  19. Ms. I

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    I knew practically all of these facts. I just wish other (non-teachers) knew this! Everyone thinks that teachers have it so easy. They pair the fact that that teachers don't make that much w/ their idea that teachers have summers off & they calculate that into thinking teaching isn't a real job or that it's a kick back job.
     
  20. Doug_HSTeach_07

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    Thanks, I really appreciated this. I know many teachers who are working as a waiter/waitress, coaching, side jobs here and there to make ends meet. Another criticism that I hear often is that "anyone can sit in a chair and hand out worksheets all day."

    I have to work extra during the school year; I have a full time bus route and do side detailing work to stay in the black each month. If it ever detracts from my teaching though, I will have to cut something out.
     
  21. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    The myth about the school day only being 6 or 7 hours long got me too. Even if teachers were leaving right at the dismissal bell, that's still a good 6.5 hours instruction time.

    Does the average employee at the corporate level in a desk job do that amount of work a day, or are they surfing the Internet all day? I have seen numerous studies where the average corporate employee puts in 3 hours of real work in per day.
     
  22. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Besides the fact that they can take an hour lunch (and not have to rush through if there is an emergency with a child/a parent), take a RR break whenever they need to go as well.
     
  23. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    I always tell people that being a teacher and with children all day with no time to plan and prepare is like being in business meetings all day long with no time to prepare for your meetings. No one in the corporate world would ever be expected to be in meetings all day long, yet there's no problem expecting a teacher to be with children all day with no planning/prep time.

    THEN people understand the importance of planning time.
     
  24. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Oct 14, 2008

    While we're at it, this reminds me of a conversation I had recently with someone. It made me so mad, and what made me even more upset was that I didn't say anything at the opportune time, even though I felt like it.

    I was talking with an engineer about the rigors of teaching and how it was consuming my life, even after school. I told him that I always felt locked in, "in the zone," and had trouble disconnecting from school stuff. Then I asked what he thought I could do to help this problem, and he looked at me and said, "You do have summers off don't you? This might help you when you feel dejected about how much work you're doing throughout the school year."

    Notice this guy said NOTHING about lightening my schedule and having somewhat of a social life outside of school. The attitude was, "you're consumed by work? At least you have the summer to make up for it!" while flippantly ignoring what I had asked. It burns me to this day, and I should probably let it go, but it will be tough to.
     
  25. Freebird

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    Oct 14, 2008

    Have any of you read the book, Teachers Have It Easy (by Moulthrop, Calegari, Eggers)? It's a whole book dedicated to these types of myths and arguments as to why teachers should be paid better. Two of the authors are former teachers.

    "This book is a sharp, unsanctimonious reminder of why we have to do better for the people who dedicate their lives to one of the most important professions." - Time Out New York


    I haven't been able to finish it because, once school starts, what teacher/mom has time to read for pleasure (especially when one is taking grad. classes)?
     
  26. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    I hear ya; I have really taken up reading lately but I've had to do it very sporadically. The school year just leaves you no time once things get going. It's taken me a month to get through a 300-page book and I hate it!
     
  27. Bio612

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    Well, the teacher I know is single, married, and without children. So I suppose she can afford those nice summers off, not to mention a decent Christmas holiday off.

    I am frugal by nature anyhow, so I can make 30K a year go a long way. ;-)
     
  28. Luv2Learn

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    How can she be single and married? And regarding living on 30K a year, I guess you aren't living in the NE or California (I'm sure that there are a lot more that have high living expenses).
     
  29. RainStorm

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    Wish we got a "decent Christmas holiday."

    For Thanksgiving, we work the day before Thanksgiving. That means I either have to make a 6 hour road trip after getting off from school (which I don't like to do -- because I don't like traveling in the dark.) or get up at the crack of dawn and still get to Thanksgiving just as the food is being put on the table! Not much of a holiday.

    For Christmas, we get Christmas eve off, but that is it...so again, it leaves you traveling on Christmas eve or Christmas day. One year, while traveling, my car broke down, and you guessed it, because it was Christmas eve, I couldn't find anyone to tow or fix it. My family had to make a 4 hour trek to pick me up in the boon-docks where my car had broken down. The day after Christmas, we had to try to get the car towed (via long distance).... It was a mess.

    I'd love to have a long Christmas holiday. And if we take the day off before the holiday, we lose ALL of our holiday pay. Same thing with the first day back after a holiday.

    Grumble, grumble....
     
  30. Bio612

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    lol..sorry...meant to say single....never been married. Made an error there.

    You mean the salaries where you live do not compensate for the living expenses?

    Also, people tend to live beyond their means these days too, as well. It also depends on a few factors.
     
  31. Bio612

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    I wonder....if it' so "Grumble Grumble" bad....then why even be a teacher? (not being a pain in making that question...just really curious).
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Nope, as a matter of fact. Several years ago, the state of Florida did have a system in which, at least Dade, Broward, and Orange counties were able to pay their teachers a small amount over the rest of the state to attempt to make up for part of the difference in cost of living. That was shot down by the legislature. So now it doesn't matter if you live in Miami-Dade (3rd highest cost of living in the entire country), or some of the smaller towns on the panhandle, the district you work for is getting the same allotment from the state to pay for your salary.

    As far as living beyond ones means, that's very easy to do if you're one of the many many people who must pay half of their monthly salary in housing expenses. A first year teacher here makes around $30,000. That's 2500/month if you're lucky enough to be on a 12mo pay schedule. The average 2 bedroom apt (non-low income housing) costs $1100/month. A house (3-4 bedrooms) is going to cost between $1100/mo-$2500/mo, depending on what part of the county. So lets say you're in a mid-priced area, that's around $1500/month. If you own your home, your still in a pickle because the market prices went through the roof, and the cost of insurance went throught he stratosphere. The insurance bill on my house (and I carry only VERY basic coverage, since I have no morgage) is $438/mo, and the tax assessment is a little over $5000 per year. I'm frugal with electricity and I've seen my bill jump from $250 a year ago to $470 last month. I do have a pool, but that only adds about a hundred bucks to the bill, so lets say $300 and hope we're talking about a smaller house. There's the water bill (around $100 every three months), car insurance (this is florida, our rates are high-my one car costs $327 every six months, and I have a slew of discounts), groceries (for the 5 people that live in my house, about $350/mo, gas (my honda civic gets 40mpg...I only pay about 75-100 in gas per month). With just those things, I'm already over the monthy income of a starting teacher. Many of those expenses could not be controlled, such as rent and the cost of electricity per killowatt hour.
     
  33. Luv2Learn

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    I can only mimic what mmswm is saying. I live in the Sarasota-Bradenton area and the housing crisis has hit us hard here and this alone has caused a huge increase in foreclosures.

    I, too, am single w/o children so my ability to live on teacher's salary wouldn't be as much a hardship depending on where I live. My dream is to eventually move back to my home state of NY and I know that I am going to have to look into some second income positions.

    Kris
     
  34. MsMongoose

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    Historically, schools got a really good deal--many teachers were women, w/ children, married to a man w/ a professional job. My next door neighbor retired as a teacher about 10 years ago. She was as smart as her husband (more, I think), and as well educated, but when she started, teaching was the only job where she could work and still be available for her 3 sons. I know she did a lot of work from school--grading papers, etc.--at home. Now she would have a much larger range of professional possibilities open to her. I think schools have not entirely adjusted to the fact that they are competing for highly educated professionals.
     
  35. RainStorm

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    I was just making the observation that while the poster said teachers got good holiday breaks, our district did not -- so it wasn't a universal thing.

    This is a place where people feel free to vent. Not being thrilled about the lack of a Christmas and Thanksgiving break is one minor thing, and my mentioning it doesn't mean I don't want to be a teacher. I happen to love teaching.

    The "grumble, grumble" line was an attempt to be humerous.

    So I guess if I vent about anything, you don't think I should be a teacher? :dizzy:
     
  36. runsw/scissors

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    Oct 15, 2008

    I think any profession has its "grumble grumble" issues. Doctors with their long hours and late nights, realestate with the preassure to sell since your commission puts bread on the table, police/firefighters/EMT with thier high stress jobs and long shifts away from family. No profession is a bed of roses, and anyone who tells you otherwise is dilussional. I love what I do despite the grumbles, and there are many (more on some days than others.) That's what keeps me teaching.
     
  37. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    Oct 16, 2008

    WOW! You just described my childhood in a ver simular school system. The school system is now the one I work for as an adult. My drive though is only 3 hrs. It still stinks that I can't be there when all my family arrives at my grandparents and I have to leave before everyone else does and sometimes before I have gotten to see all my relatives. I think the school systems do not take in to concideration the kids or staff who have family no local. Family is more important for the holidays then school (to a degree) my kids(if I had children) would be leaving school early and getting back late on holidays so they would miss 2 extra days because of the stupid school system.
     
  38. Bio612

    Bio612 Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2008

    I know of a "Cyber Teaching" program where you have to be a certified teacher....but you can do it all from home...without having to worry about how kids behave.
     
  39. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Oct 16, 2008

    I tell ALL of my class parents -- I teach NOTHING new the week of Thanksgiving. Everything is review or enrichment. Yes, we have fun, and engaging activites -- but if your child has to miss school because of a wonderful opportunity to spend the holidays with family, there will be NO make-up work!!!

    :) My class parents always appreciate that. :)
     
  40. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    Oct 16, 2008

    WOW! What a nice and wonderful teacher to allow that for your students and their parents!
     
  41. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Oct 16, 2008

    That's so nice of you. I try to do lots of review that week and the few days before Christmas for the same reason.
     

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