“You Knew Teaching Had Low Pay”

Sometimes, a teacher might mention their low pay.  One of the most common responses is, “Well, you knew what you were getting into when you became a teacher.”

Wait.  Let’s look at this.

When I was 18, I knew that teachers got “low pay.”  But I did not, and could not, have fully understand the implications and far reach of that “low pay.”  And I honestly thought it would be “okay” since I’m a frugal person– I don’t bother with the latest gadgets or shiny, new cars.  I have no interest in buying shoes or handbags or even racks of clothes.  I rarely eat out, etc.  I figured I’d be fine on that low teacher salary.

At 18– even at 22 when I accepted my first teaching job– I did not, and could, not have understood what that “low pay” really meant.  Because at the time, that was more money than I’d ever made in my life!  It seemed like it would be enough.

Except, those wages basically don’t keep up with the rising cost of groceries or gasoline.  They don’t leave much room to replace an old computer or even a pair of work shoes when I’ve walked the soles off from laps around the classroom.  Or buying even a used economy car when the last used car finally gave up for the last time.

And those low wages don’t leave much room for adding a child or two. Those wages don’t leave much room to buy a house with a yard for a family.

I simply could not have understood what those wages meant at 18 or 22.  I did not have the perspective on the cost of life– even a frugal one– and how it compared to the low pay of being a teacher.  I may have thought I knew, but I didn’t.  I love teaching.

Even though it’s hard to provide the life I want for my family.  Quite frankly, it’s not fair that my children have to sacrifice because I get paid so little to teach other people’s children.

Teaching does have low pay.  Without perspective, it’s hard to truly understand what that means now, and for the future.


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