From the time I was in the third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. In high school, I decided that I wanted to be a Spanish teacher, with the encouragement of Profe (my Spanish 3 teacher). Despite my Daddy’s protests and the low pay given to teachers, I pursued a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. And in 1999, I became a teacher, like I always wanted.
During my seventeen-year career, I taught well over 2,000 students in three different states at four different high schools. Ultimately, I left the profession to start Not So Mommy… I did not leave because of the poor pay, though. I left because I was overworked and undervalued.
Throughout my career, more and more was asked of me with less and less appreciation shown. Yes, I got the “thank you” cookie during Teacher Appreciation Week. Yes, I heard people say that “teachers make a difference.” But true appreciation, a real understanding of the sacrifices that I made to educate, to help raise, young people… Well, no one—not students, parents, administrators, or politicians—seemed to realize how immensely difficult my job really was.
But this post isn’t meant to be about me. Because I left. I decided that I could no longer pour my heart and soul into a career that had ceased to bring me joy…
But there are thousands of men and women who are still in classrooms, teaching our youth, sacrificing their time and health, receiving very little pay and even less appreciation. And one group of such educators has decided that they have had enough.
In Oklahoma (where I taught for 12 years), the teachers have decided to strike if Congress does not raise their pay (they are the lowest paid educators in the United States), the pay of support staff, and fully fund the education of Oklahoma kids. There are differing opinions about the walk-out, with many saying it sets a “bad example” for the kids. I whole-heartedly disagree. I, for one, am extremely proud of my fellow educators. (I still have friends in Oklahoma who teach.) They are finally standing up for themselves and saying, “We have had enough! You will listen to us! You will value us! You will take us seriously!”
Personally, I think this sets an amazing example for our young people. In fact, I think it sets an amazing example for us all! As childless not by choice, how often have we sat in the background allowing others to comment about our lifestyle, quietly holding in our angst, politely excusing ourselves to cry alone? I think it’s about time we took a lesson from the Oklahoma teachers. It’s about time we stand and proclaim, “We have had enough! You will value us!”
Let us who feel undervalued stand together, showing the world that we are strong. Childless not by choice, I realize that we don’t have littles in school, but that does not mean that we can’t show teachers how much we appreciate their sacrifices. I challenge you help a teacher out! Give her some Kleenex, buy some expo markers, ask if you can change out a bulletin board or make some copies. We know what it’s like to feel unnoticed by much of the world. Let’s not allow our teachers, who are some of the most selfless people I have ever met, to feel that way. Because teachers, well they are most definitely a good thing!
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