Patronizing Teacher Talk

Discussion in 'General Education' started by highlow405, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. highlow405

    highlow405 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2011

    Does anyone else feel embarrassed about the way certain people talk about teaching? Sometimes I hear, "It's the hardest job in the world" or "Teachers should be payed like doctors or lawyers". I feel like it is very patronizing. I hate feeling like a "protected class" of person who can't handle any real criticism or real discussion of the profession.

    Of course, the flip side exists. People call teachers "babysitters" or repeat the ever-present "Those who can't do teach."

    I want to be viewed as a regular everyday person doing a job. I don't want to be a superhero or a complete low-life.
     
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  3. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jul 29, 2011

    Unfortunately, teachers seem to be villains these days. I think it's hard for the general public to constantly hear in the press that education in the US is terrible and then NOT transfer those feelings to the teacher.

    But then, I find, that when I do engage people in "real" discussion of the profession, more often than not they simply don't understand the way education works - from time spent in the classroom to standardized testing to the details of planning.

    The only way people are ever going to - for lack of a better word - appreciate the job teachers do is to become educated about it. And who better to do that than educators? :)
     
  4. MrsCK

    MrsCK Companion

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    It's more embarrassing when TEACHERS talk bad about teaching. I can't tell you the number of teachers I came across during my practicum and student teaching months that would say things like, "Are you SURE you want to get into this?" Just totally demeaning the profession. Uh, YES I want to get into this, and I'd be happy to take your job!! :p
     
  5. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    Jul 29, 2011

    Love this line!
     
  6. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jul 29, 2011

    I was visiting with one of my uncles a few days ago and we were discussing the current budget cuts to education. I mentioned the fact that the NCAE is complaining about a proposal that teachers in NC would have to start paying for the premium for their insurance coverage, which amounts to less than $30/month. I've had group insurance of various kinds for the last 20 years and my premiums have always been around $300/month, so I would LOVE to have a premium this low. Of course, it would be even better if I got the coverage for free (as the teachers do now), but I certainly wouldn't complain about paying 1/10 of what I'm used to.

    Then my uncle said "Well, teachers tend to be some of the whiniest people. That's what happens when they get things handed to them for free for years and years and then suddenly they're asked to start paying for it like the rest of us have to do." :eek:hmy:

    I was pretty shocked he would say that KNOWING that teaching is my chosen profession. It's even more shocking since his own wife works in our local school district (in the cafeteria) and is able to take advantage of those same benefits.

    Rather than confront him on that, though, I changed the topic to the national health care plan and mentioned how all the supporters claimed we needed national health care to prevent the "evil insurance industries" from continuing to skyrocket the cost of healthcare. I brought this up because my uncle is an independent health care insurance salesman. Naturally, he immediately began defending the insurance industry in general and explained that most people simply don't understand how the health insurance industry works.

    My uncle also happens to be one of those people that is always right and it should be "obvious" to anyone he talks to that he IS right...about everything. I love him, but couldn't help chuckling to myself inside. He was so quick to buy into the rhetoric he hears about other industries, but quickly bristled at the rhetoric towards his own industry.

    There were a lot of things I COULD have said, but instead, I just silently shook my head to myself and let it go.

    I will agree he has one valid point regarding teacher benefits. While we often complain about the low salaries (and they ARE low compared to other fields), teachers usually also have very good benefit packages with their jobs...especially insurance. As I said, I would absolutely LOVE have FREE insurance for myself and would even consider a premium of only $30/month an absolute God-send. With all the health problems I've had in the past 20 years, good health insurance is JUST as valuable to me as my hourly wage or salary. We also have most holidays off - with pay, in addition to the leave time and sick time we accrue during each year. So the benefit packages we get DO help offset the lower salary somewhat.

    By contrast, doctor's make tremendous amounts of money, but also must spend time being "On Call" and can be called into work at any hour of the day or night, holiday or weekend. They have to buy their own insurance AND provide insurance for their employees (if they choose). Premiums for malpractice insurance often runs THOUSANDS of dollars per MONTH (a doctor at a hospital I worked for several years ago said it would cost him $10,000/month for malpractice insurance (IIRC) ). The same is true for lawyers. They may have group insurance through their firm, or they may have to provide their own. Just depends on the firm. They make insane amounts of money as well, but they also work extremely long hours at home or late at night researching their cases and prepping for trials.

    So, while other industries may make lots more money than we do (up front), a lot of that is taken away by having to provide their own benefits. It still doesn't level the field completely, of course, but it does bring it a little more in balance when you consider the many benefits we do get with out job. And the intangible benefits from the kids and their parents go far beyond anything offered in any other field.
     
  7. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    You can have it when I am done with it. I can understand people wanting to get into the profession, just not right now with the economy the way it is; lack of available jobs and lack of salary movement.
     
  8. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Jul 29, 2011

    Uncle knowitall probably gets his talking points from hate radio.
    They all know how bad teachers are. Experts most of them. :|

    Not where I work.
     
  9. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jul 29, 2011

    I always make it a point to tell people that I love my job (which I do), and that I can't see myself doing anything else. Generally, my enthusiasm opens the conversation to questions/concerns they may have and it makes them feel more comfortable asking me about hot button issues as they pop up.

    I don't enter in to public education/teacher bashing sessions with anyone. I may just say, "that's not been my experience" or something like that, but I won't get in a heated argument. No one has ever been convinced they were wrong by someone else screaming at them. :)
     
  10. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Uncle Knowitall sounds like my brother. With my brother it's about what to do for dh's back (massage by wife & vodka), racism, life in general. He knows more then anyone else. We don't get along as a result. No wonder my Dad has appointed an outside executor for his & Mom's wills. Just so we don't argue. Thank goodness he's not close to me, physically & we don't have to see each other often.
     
  11. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Well that is sad, but the massage and vodka, what husband wouldn't like that. :whistle:
     
  12. ms99

    ms99 Rookie

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    Jul 29, 2011

    I agree. The other day I was talking to someone who was moaning and groaning about how awful teaching was and asking for advice. I wanted so badly to say, "Quit, and put in a good word for me." :D:D
     
  13. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    callmebob, he said "if you drink enough of it, you won't feel any pain."

    dh's backpain is waaaay beyond massage! In fact, a couple of weeks ago I had him in er because the pain was so bad (his primary care sent him because it hadn't gotten worse since she saw him). Morphine didn't help, neither did either of the drugs they sent him home with. We're seeing a spine surgeon next week!
     
  14. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jul 29, 2011

    I'll echo Cerek on the price doctors and lawyers pay for their lifestyle. Our friend's father was a neurosurgeon and his personal malpractice insurance (not for any employees, just him working at a hospital) was 120k in 1995. He retired soon after (at about 50) because it made more financial sense.

    My husband was an attorney for many years. For the first four years, he worked seven days a week from about 9am until about 9pm. He worked on his birthday, on Christmas, every single day except Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. And he only got New Year's off because the firm had to clear the office for annual cleaning. It's hard, hard work.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    No. He doesn't listen to talk radio. He forms his own opinions, but once it's formed, then he feels he is absolutely right and there really isn't much reason to discuss it because everyone else should understand that he is right.

    I do love him and used to have a lot of respect for his opinion, until I began to see for myself just how arbitrary his opinions were and that there was no room for any discussion. I don't expect to completely change anybody's opinion on the issues we discuss here (and on other forums), but I like to think at least some of the members are open-minded enough to acknowledge when opposing arguments have some valid points. That doesn't mean you have to completely agree with the other POV, but the truly honest intellect is willing to admit there are valid points on each side.


    I'm sorry to hear that.
     
  16. Srohl

    Srohl Rookie

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    Jul 29, 2011

    " We also have most holidays off - with pay, in addition to the leave time and sick time we accrue during each year. "

    You are a teacher, and you get paid holidays? I have never heard of a teacher that receives paid holidays! Lucky you!!
     
  17. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Jul 29, 2011

    Some, we have lost a few of them in the last couple years. But remember, we get paid for 10 months worth of work and to get a job for 2 months out of the year is not always easy.
     
  18. MrsCK

    MrsCK Companion

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    I should clarify that most of the time I've been told to "get out while you still can" it was in reference to actually teaching the children. As if that wasn't important to these teachers. When I first started college, the economy was fine and there were plenty of jobs. I wanted to teach and did not want to waste time and money changing my major just because the economy was collapsing.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    That is a 2 way street. He probably had some validity to his arguements too.
     
  20. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    The thing is, it would not have been a waste of money in the long run. A different career you might be able to make more and save more in the long run. Hard to do that with frozen salaries. Obviously I take the practical approach and i know not everyone does that.
     
  21. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Jul 29, 2011

    One of the reasons I never even thought about being a teacher until recently was because teachers always complained about how they can't survive on their salary or other people said the same thing. I definitely got a lot of flack after deciding to go into it because of the low salary, etc. I'm not in it for the money. I'd rather do something that contributes to society than focus on amassing wealth.

    Now, I hear a lot of complaints from people who aren't teachers about how we are overpaid because we only work 10 months out of the year. Do they realize we're paid for only the 10 months of work and how much work we have to do at home? Then there are all the complaints from non-teachers about the union and how they are messing things up too, demanding this and that. Going into teaching has made me appreciate teachers so much more and all the work they put into educating children.
     
  22. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I have known some teachers who had different careers first who said this same thing. I think that is great, if from your first career you were able to put yourself in solid financial position and save a significant amount of money. To me, its not about amassing wealth, but simply being able to live financially stress free and save for later in life. I just don't see that possible being a teacher. Which to me is sad that its not possible in an important profession like this one.
     
  23. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Most teachers are paid for 10 months of work. Those ten months include most of our major holidays, so you receive the same amount of pay while still getting those holidays off.

    I've worked in other fields that accrued Paid Time Off (PTO). You could get a holiday off, with pay, but you had to submit 8 PTO hours to do it. PTO generally counted for vacation AND sick time. So ANY time you had to be out of work, you had to submit PTO time to be paid for it. Workers with 1-5 years experience generally earned enough PTO hours to get 1-1.5 weeks time off (for whatever reason) per year. The downside to this was if you could not come to work due to inclement weather (snow, for instance), you STILL got docked PTO time.

    Compare that to having holidays included in the time off we receive as teachers and, yes, we DO get holidays off with pay, because we still have leave days and sick days available to us in addition to the holidays.
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oh, I agree and admit the 1.5% overall profit margin IS a good argument in defense of insurance companies. I, personally, do NOT consider insurance companies to be "evil"...they are designed to generate a profit, just like any other business. I also agree most people don't look at insurance the way they should. They say "I've paid hundreds of dollars to the company, I should get something back for that investment." Well, if you ever have a major medical issue, you WILL get it back. But if you stay relatively healthy, your money will be used to pay for the care of someone else who needs it.

    Rather than investing your money, you are "insuring" against a future claim that would be beyond your means to pay by yourself. Another way to look at it is as if you are putting your premium in a "bank". If you set aside that same amount of money every month of every year, would it be enough to pay any and all medical bills you might incur if you suddenly became very ill, were in a car accident, or (heaven forbid), were diagnosed with cancer? Chances are, it probably would not. BUT, if you put that money into a health insurance policy, that policy WILL pay those bills (up to 80% until you meet your deductible {which generally ranges from $250-500}), then 100% after that! In 2008, I had an extended hospital stay and two major surgeries. My hospital bill, alone, was $250,000. That was just for the room and daily procedures. That didn't include the surgeries.

    I now have a catastrophic insurance plan with a very high deductible - $5,000 to be exact. That means that ANY bills are mine up to the $5,000 mark. After that, the insurance kicks in and pays 100% of anything over $5,000. With two week-long hospital stays and at least 3 trips to the ER, not to mention being on antibiotics for over 2 months now, I easily met that $5,000 and then some.

    So, I do NOT consider insurance companies or providers to be "evil" at all. I understand very well the purpose they serve and the way they operate their business. But many critics feel insurance companies go out of their way to "cheat" their customers in order to increase their profits.

    While it is true that insurance companies generate millions in revenue, it is also true that every one of them have cases like mine where they also pay out several million dollars for the care of their policyholders. So I can easily believe their overall profit margin is just about 1.5% total.
     
  25. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I'm in NC and I think the insurance plan we have sucks. It *was* free so I took it. My benefits have dropped in the past year and now I pay a premium. Next month I will pay over $1000 for health-related issues for my family. That includes the premium, copays (dr and Rx) and deductibles.

    Is it better than some? Sure. Better than nothing? Sure.

    But it sure isn't as good as what I had when dh and I worked for private industry. Definitely not as good as what my in-laws get for doing nothing except continually procreate and get fired from jobs.
     
  26. Srohl

    Srohl Rookie

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    Cerek,
    In my system we only get paid for 185 contract days. Contract days are days you actually work. My pay can be spread out over 21 or 26 pays. If I go with 21 pays then I am only paid during the school year. With 26 pays I do get paid over the summer for days I already worked. We do not get paid for holidays at all.
     
  27. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    The same is true in every district I've ever worked in. I get paid for contract days only. Yes, school closes during the holidays, and I continue to get a pay check, but only because I've had the money from my 186 days spread over 365 days. Having said that, I *do* think that for only working 186 days a year, I get paid a decent salary.
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    The problem with that is that we do not only work 186 days. 186 days would be based on an 8 hour day 5 days a week. So many teachers put in longer days than that and put in time on weekends and during vacation time. In the end we all know the work we do adds up to much more than that contract number.
     
  29. Hitchcock fan

    Hitchcock fan Companion

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    Jul 29, 2011

    First of all, I listen to talk radio and I wouldn't characterize it as "hate radio." I don't agree with most of the hosts' views on public education, but I don't much appreciate the attitude of the rest of society, either. I find it insulting when people say, "Oh, I'm sorry!" or "How can you stand to do that?! Thank goodness for people like you!" upon learning that I teach. Over the past few years, I've taken to replying that a) I have had other careers and could return to them but I CHOOSE to teach (unspoken reply: It's not like I have to, so don't feel sorry for me) and b) well, I certainly couldn't imagine doing what they do for a living (unspoken reply: How rude of you to say what you just did!).
     
  30. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 29, 2011

    This is exactly what many people don't understand. Depending on your grade, subject, extra after-school duties, etc. many teachers work way beyond a 40 hour week. I don't know many teachers who spend the 8 weeks of summer without doing something job related. We just do it on our schedule. We are taking classes/seminars, reading professional journals,etc., reflecting on the past year and planning for the changes we will make in the next. Many of us bring our work home - I rarely did that when I worked in the public sector. Our contract includes having to work 3 days over the summer. We are free to use that time for planning, decorating, meetings.

    My friend used to bash teachers - all summer off, 9-3, no work on any holidays/breaks - until I became a teacher and she had an inside view of just what it takes. I've never worked so hard for so little pay. That said, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a job so much, and I'm VERY glad to have a job at a time when so many don't. I'm reminded of that frequently during the year when students have to move because parents lost jobs and have to go to live with relatives outside the district, or when new students come in during the year for the same reasons.

    Luckily, hubby has good insurance, so I turned our medical plan down and use just his. I really feel for the teachers who are paying almost $1000/month for family coverage.

    People also don't understand how many of us use our own money to purchase basic supplies for our students. Here I am, my kids are now out of school, and I'm hitting the sales to stock up on pens/pencils/paper, etc. so my students have them. I have even been scouring the shelves at Goodwill for binders for my students. See, I'm working and spending time for my job even though I have "all summer" off.:whistle:
     
  31. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    This is the first summer that I did not spend time planning or thinking about things for the new year. It was very nice, and chances are the year wont turn out much different if I had.

    You mention you've never had to work so hard for so little pay. Is that right? Should we have to? So many other fields, if you work harder and put in more time, you can actually earn more money; we don't. It just does not seem right. Though you say one benefit for you is fun. I see some fun in the job, but to me, working is not about having fun. Fun is what you do when you are not working. (yes i know some people have fun with their various jobs)
     
  32. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jul 30, 2011

    Whether you earn more money by putting in more hours on another job depend on a several factors. If you are on salary, then no, you do NOT earn any extra money for the extra hours you put in. Those extra hours are considered part of your job responsibility. The other side of that is salary people can sometimes leave early when the work is caught up. I worked as a Purchasing Manager for a hospital several years ago and was set up on salary. On slow days, I could leave an hour early, if I wanted, but when it came time for our annual inventory, I put in a LOT more hours overtime than I ever took off, but I didn't get any extra money for the overtime hours I put in.

    The same is true for sales reps that work on commission. They often have to work several hours into each night following up on their customer's needs and demands, but they don't earn any extra commission for those hours. They do earn good money for the work they do, but they have to put in a lot of hours to do it. And most of them have to pay for their own benefits as well. They are often considered independent contractors, so they get a great commission, but nothing else from the company.

    Even if you are an hourly worker, the amount of wages taxed for overtime hours reduce the amount of overall profit you make, unless you're married with kids and have enough deductions to offset those taxes.

    There are many jobs that require extra work after hours. Teaching is just one of them.
     
  33. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Usually the harder you work and more benefit you are to the company as a salaried employee, you reap the rewards in terms of a bonus or a raise.

    Teachers are unlike other government employees around here in that regard. It doesn't matter how much better a teacher I am or how much more time I put in than the woman down the hall - she will always make more money that I will because she has been here longer.

    But...I knew how the system worked before I jumped in so I'm not complaining about it one bit!
     
  34. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    What I meant by the work harder to earn more pay concept was the idea of getting a raise. I understand how salaried vs. hourly employees work.

    I guess I just expect more. I put in the time and money for multiple degrees. I expect in return more money for the work I do.
     
  35. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Yes, we knew the system going in. But going in salaries were not frozen. You may never make as much at the same time as the woman down the hall, but you had the chance to get there once you put in the years. One of the benefits for choosing this job years ago was the yearly raise. That is out the door right now.
     
  36. 2ndTimeAround

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    Yes, you are absolutely right about that Bob.

    I'm treating this like the stock market. In the past teacher salaries were frozen here for a while. When they unfroze teachers got a HUGE bump in salaries. Higher than they would have been had they continued with the step increases. I am holding onto the hope that this happens again!
     
  37. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    That would be nice NCS, but as of now we were told that if/when salaries are unfrozen, we will not get those years added on when it is unfrozen.
     
  38. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    But the beauty of teaching is (unless the economy is in the dump like now) for the most part you get a raise just for not getting fired. Bad year for you and you know you didn't live up to what you are capable of, you get a raise once passed the first few years.
     
  39. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

    I knew going into teaching that it required extra hours of work at school or home after regular hours. That is just part of the job, but it is a part that can be managed with organization, planning and time-management strategies. Having worked in several other fields that also required extra time after hours (sometimes with pay, sometimes not), I just consider the extra time required of teachers to be part of the package.

    Same goes for holidays. In other fields, I could take a holiday off, if I wanted to, but I would make less money in my next check because I wouldn't be paid for the holiday unless I submitted 8 hours of PTO time. While I may not get paid for having the holiday off as a teacher, I DO get the holiday off without losing ANY leave or sick time and I still get the same amount of money in my check. So I do consider that a "paid" holiday.

    One thing I can say for certain after working in many different fields...EVERY job has it's ups and downs. I loved working in Purchasing, ordering and delivering supplies and making sure every department had the supplies they needed to do their job and care for their patients. That was very rewarding. I HATED unloading trucks in the pouring rain or when the temperature was below freezing (and especially hated working in the pouring rain when the temp was near freezing), but that was part of the job as well. Our Head of Maintenance summed it up perfectly; some days he gets to sit at his desk and do paperwork or just do light jobs all day. On other days, he has to go down in the ground and slog waist deep through the sewer system, but he gets paid the same amount, no matter which part of the job he is doing.

    Yes, teachers have to work extra hours. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone anymore (although those outside the field may not realize just how many extra hours we work). Yes, it would be nice to be compensated for those hours, but some teachers manage to find ways to minimize those outside hours. Part of it is the work required and part of it is proper planning and time-management to handle that work. Are there other ways to get that work done during the school day? Do you really need to give a homework assignment every night? And does every homework assignment have to be graded and recorded?

    I'll be the first to admit time-management is NOT one of my strong points, but I don't mind staying after school or bringing the work home if I need to. I also don't mind buying extra supplies for my room. That is just part of doing my job to the best of my ability, in my opinion.

    When I decided to post a challenging math problem on my classroom door each month, I also decided to give a prize to the student that got the answer correct. the first month, a local theater owner donated a free ticket, along with free popcorn and coke. That was great, but he didn't want to give free tickets every couple of weeks or month. So I went to the local Wal-Mart and Gamestop stores and bought a $10 gift card for each one and let that be my prize for the math problems. Yeah, it cost some money, but that was money well spent, in my opinion, when I would have students from the entire middle school stopping by room every day trying to figure out the latest problem I had posted on the board. And as soon as one problem had been answered, the kids wanted to know when the next problem would be posted. It actually got kids excited about solving math problems. As far as I'm concerned, the money I spent was a good investment that gave great returns.
     
  40. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 30, 2011

    I was a lawyer for a three years at a big Boston Firm. The pay was great, but as an associate I was essentially a slave for the firm. I worked a regular 9-5 day and brought home between two and three hours of work with me each day. I also went in on Saturdays a lot.
     
  41. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    Jul 30, 2011

    Not where I work either.
     

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