An anonymous reader found my Saying Goodbye to Maria post and left the following comment today:
I have begun to despair about my profession. I read your article about Maria leaving the classroom and I identified with her very strongly. The thing for me is that I’ve already moved passed my best window of opportunity for leaving. I’m 16 years into the classroom and I’m in my 40s. So, for me… leaving the classroom may not even result in the kind of rewards your young teacher will receive.
I’ve been told by so many that teaching is its own reward, but it isn’t true. I’m a very hard working teacher and I know I do great work with kids. But, my goals have changed. I want increased control over my career. Instead, I continue to be the pawn I was when I first entered the profession. I get no choices and being good gets me nothing. I’m expected to get my reward from the smile of a child. It used to be good enough, when I was Gandhi, but now that I’ve realized that I have goals for my own professional development, it means less.
I want out now, and the only way I can see out is to go to university, get a PhD and move into a lower paying university job somewhere, leaving my secure pension and my erstwhile profession as a teacher of children behind. I just can’t see being happy doing the kind of teaching I’ll be doing. I’m tired of struggling so hard and never being able to grow in place. And, although I received my administrative license last year, I don’t want to do that either. So, now I stand at the edge of the diving board… will I dive out into the unknown, with all it’s possibilities and pitfalls… or will I retreat backward to a profession that doesn’t give back?
What an incredibly powerful closing line, huh? Think about the implication of her words—Retreating into a profession that doesn’t give back. I wonder how many teachers we lose each year because they’re frustrated by a lack of differentiation in their work from year to year—-and in their salaries regardless of the effort that they invest into their classrooms.
Still more evidence that the single salary schedule has outlived its usefulness and is actually harming our efforts to reach every child. Will we ever get to the point where teachers as a whole embrace the idea of performance pay?
If you are an educator, what barriers stand in the way of convincing you that alternative compensation is an idea that we should pursue?