A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

How Much?

Posted by aphillieteacher on March 2, 2010

“I don’t believe this is a worker’s rights issue. I believe it’s a children’s rights issue,” Nordan said. “…By every statistical measure I’ve seen, we are not doing a good enough job for our students … The rhetoric that these are poor students, ESL students, you can imagine the home lives … this is exactly why we need you to step up, regardless of the pay, regardless of the time involved. This city needs it more than anybody. I demand of you that you demand more of yourself and those around you.” -B.K. Nordan, one of two trustees who voted against firing all the teachers at Central Falls High School

How much are you willing to give: extra time with students, extra prep, extra professional development are all part of our jobs.  I suspect that if you are a teacher, you already give all that to your students.

It’s common knowledge that teachers aren’t in it for the money; they choose teaching for many reasons, the biggest reason being “the kids.”

But  lawyers, accountants and other professionals charge serious money for duties above and beyond their usual work. Our city workers got paid time and a half when they worked overtime and Sundays to clear the snow off our streets this winter.

So what about teachers? Is it realistic to expect teachers to go above and beyond what they usually do voluntarily – even when it’s for little or no pay?

I don’t have an answer for this, but in my heart I feel that at some point I’ve given enough. If you want more, you’ll have to pay me at a rate appropriate to my profession.


6 Responses to “How Much?”

  1. ricochet said

    I hit that over the weekend. It was time to grade one class’s test (still on my to-do list). They are such jack-a-ninnies (stole that from another blog, love it) that it is IMPOSSIBLE to teach them – so why give them more of my time.

  2. aha. Don’t we all know that moment? I found some excellent advice from Your 28 year Old Yenta:

    remember that teaching is giving. Make sure, in the stress of grading, that you are being extra gentle with yourself. Doughnuts, baths, ice cream and movies are types of things that need to be doled out to you, in addition to final grades for the students.

  3. Jen said

    First year teaching and well, I’m usually AT school for 10+ hours a day (tomorrow with an afterschool PD, I’ll be there for more than 12 hours. One day. Then there’s all the time on the weekends and evenings. I feel like I’m working as hard as I can just not to be pulled under. When I take a night off, it feels like I’m cheating and then I wake up several times in the night, worried that I’m not ready for the next day.

    Maybe after a few years when I’m not making it all up, I’d have to the time to give more, but right now? I don’t have any more to give.

    • I’m sorry I couldn’t respond to this sooner. Do you have a mentor at your school? Maybe this person could give you some advice to cut down on those hours.

      What would you say takes up most of your non-instructional time?

  4. Jen said

    It’s the making it up thing. Our required curriculum is, well, is unsuitable for our students. It leads to 6th and 7th graders with little in the way of basic facts and no number sense. Even though of course, it’s supposed to develop lots and lots of number sense. (It works with kids from, you know, enriched homes with college educated parents.)

    So our school has had unexpectedly good scores because our (oh heavens, I’m trying not to be too clear here!) esteemed leader recognized this and says, do what works and because scores are good (better than at a lot of schools with far far less poverty), they can’t say anything to esteemed leader. We use a program that was piloted but not chosen, or I can use another text or… So, if I were teaching the curriculum, it would all be spelled out for me, including homework. But, my kids would be clueless and stay below basic. Or I can piece it together best I can and hope not to screw up. That’s what I’ve been doing — looking at the eligible content they need to know, planning around that to get it all in and have test prep time…making homeworks and warm-ups etc., and trying to grade enough of it…(so I can watch it all get thrown in the trash — though at least they usually look at it before they toss it). Trying to set up small groups so that I can “move” everyone from my lowest lows to my middling proficients.

    I’ve sort of had to make it up and ask around and just try to invent what I need. There are people to ask, but no one particularly assigned to me and no one with a lot of time on their hands. It’s more my going around and asking — which of course is time-consuming for me and them. If I’m teaching the same thing next year, all my test prep homeworks will be ready to go, etc. But this year? Lots of copying and pasting and changing up numbers and making data folders and grading notebooks and…

  5. oof. I can empathize! Today’s post is going to be about this exact subject.

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