I am a teacher, and I need a raise. I’m dying over here.
I understand that the profession in which I work is not suited for cash-grabbers and money harlots. It’s true that I do it for the kids and that the students are most important and that their success is my reward. The academic achievement of my scholars is more important to me than gas, a premium Spotify account, and the entire collection of Mrs. Meyers household cleaning products combined. However, as I type this, I’ve got a 59-cent can of black beans simmering on the stove for dinner.
I feel that I deserve a raise, and here are a few reasons why:
I work sixty hours per week. Sixty hours is a lot of time to be doing anything. At sixty hours a week, a teacher could achieve the Gladwellian 10,000 hours in, like, three months. Two years into the job, I should be considered — and compensated as such — the industry’s foremost expert on cajoling 12 year-olds to scribble possibly-legible paragraphs on paper.
Last week, I was told to “chill” twice by a 12 year-old girl who, later, feigned a sneeze so as to step into the hallway ostensibly to blow her nose, the hallway in which I would, seconds later, find her gnawing through a fun-sized bag of hot Cheetos, her fingers dusted with spicy orange gleebles of processed cheese.
I am referred to as “bro”, “bruh,” “breh,” and any other abridgings of “brother” dozens of times daily, despite my unrelation to the 12 year-olds.
The spreadsheets avalanching across my desktop know how much you all like data. So I’ve run some numbers:
- At 74 drum beats per minute, I hear more rhythmic pen clicks, idle finger twiddles, and pencil-to-desk percussion than a chain-smoker working a double shift in the percussion section at Guitar Center. Guitar Center employees start at $14/hour, but I’d be happy if I just got a smoke break.
- There were 120 students in the 7th grade last year. Each of their final essays in which the scholars compared the plight of the Holocaust to that of modern day Syrian refugees reared its head at about 850 words. That’s right at 100,000 prepubescent words to read over the weekend, roughly equivalent to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, which I of course do not have time to read.
- I printed out roughly 600,000 sheets of paper last year, 96% of which has been scribbled upon with the strange, interlocking S’s that God teaches you how to draw in sixth grade; unread; and tossed willy-nilly into a non-recyclable trash can. It is for these many sheets — and trees — that I am seeking recompense. I will funnel the money to the appropriate tree-friendly organization, trust me.
- I spend eighteen hours per day, from the moment I walk into the building until the moment my weary-but-spasming eyelids scuttle closed, frantically speedwalking through the halls, making copies while sipping coffee, the one private joy allowed by the encroaching cerberus of time, while issuing greetings and school-standard-attire violations alike, ushering preteens into lines, requesting the silence of a throng of homo sapiens who, at this stage of development require near-constant physical stimulation and more closely resemble coked-up lemurs, shuttling these barely-contained ape descendants from classroom to classroom, in which their fervent attention is demanded, inspiring them to care, with even just one fleeting electron of their brains, about what the deeper meaning of a poem might be, and how perhaps to elucidate that elusive deeper meaning within the confines of a written English sentence in such a way that I might, eschewing sleep and friendships and family and beer, read it and proffer academic feedback, all while tripping constantly over binders, books, and bags scattered haphazardly throughout the classroom without concern for the wayward legs of the binder-owners’ teacher, which (the legs) are scurrying preternaturally to outrun the nagging, howling fear of failing, which many of the students of the teacher whose legs are scuttling about are doing, failing that is, and the fear of which keeps the teacher up at night perhaps more so than the lesson plans that he does not have time to write or at least write properly, which are analyzed and critiqued by a coach whose observational presence in the classroom is fierce and unforgiving and makes the teacher feel as if he is suddenly competing at the NBA Draft Combine in front of scouts, except for that there are no layups or jump shots or even basketballs, and he is playing 30-on-1 against these frazzled lemurs who pretend not to know what the word “thesis” means just at the wrong time and who are somehow frighteningly good at basketball in this metaphor, and so when the game ends the teacher can barely sit or breathe or see, so deep is the caustic and impenetrable weariness, unreplenishable by food or rest or quiet mornings in the sun, for it is on these summer mornings that the hawking parents of the lemurs punch harried messages through their iPhone apps to the teacher, who deliberately deletes them and types out an email with the last of his sanity at his fingertips and the end of the black beans in his stomach, a plea for the tiniest raise.