Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers were treated like the professionals we really are? I have a unique set of skills and experiences that I believe sets me apart from other educators. I have an excellent rapport with students (at least I like to think I do), I am consistently working to revise and improve lessons, and I seek out new learning all of the time. I spend hours inside and outside of my classroom working to be the best educator I can be. I spend my summers immersing myself in experiences to bring back to the classroom. I have participated in and facilitated experiences that no other teachers have completed in my district. (Seriously – I have had some of the most AMAZING experiences ever – like space camp, advanced space camp, standing under Atlantis, floating in microgravity with NASA, seeing shuttles and rockets launch, helping students interview a NASA scientists live on NASA TV, being a NOAA Teacher at Sea, Creeks to Coast, and facilitating an ISS contact for our students.)
And yet, my salary is exactly the same as any other teacher in my district who has the same number of years of experience and the same degree that I have. Why is that? Shouldn’t there be some value to the unique experiences I provide students? Shouldn’t teachers who go above and beyond be compensated? It would be absurd to give every employee with the same experience and education level the same salary in the corporate world, so why is it the norm in education?
So when will I know that my profession is respected? When teachers become a valuable asset to their schools worth fighting over, I’ll know. When teacher salaries are not dictated by a one-size-fits-all pay scale, I’ll know. When teacher opinions are valued and sought out, I’ll know. When politicians finally realize that teachers know more about educating our nation’s youth than they do, I’ll know.
Teachers are professionals, and it is time for us to be fully respected as such.
(And this would be pretty cool, too.)