Teaching is not a lucrative profession. I leave home at 5:30 AM and arrive home between 5:30 to 6:00 in the evening so it’s certainly a full-time job but even so the pay is so low that my kids are still eligible for free lunches at school. This is something of an embarrassment, especially now that I see firsthand how the “free and reduced” population is spoken of by staff at school. Whenever a conversation comes up about low scores or failing students you can be sure the “free and reduced” group will be held up as the culprit or excuse. As in “Well, we have over 50% free and reduced, so what do you expect?” The “free and reduced” kids are widely thought to come from “broken” homes with unemployed or under employed parents, many of whom haven’t “bettered” themselves. I always feel uncomfortable during these conversations, especially as my colleagues don’t know that I could fit into some of their pigeonholes albeit as a square peg forced into a round hole.
We remain solidly in poverty despite my fulltime job. Once taxes and benefits are deducted from my earnings I have just enough to pay for phone, utilities, car insurance, food and gas (this expense has increased with my daily commute to about $300 a month). There’s little left to put aside in savings for the propane delivery, anticipated car repairs or other expenses. I sometimes rethink my decision to take the teaching job instead of the consulting job but then I remind myself of the list of pros and cons I made (for instance having to repay my scholarship) and apply myself to frugal budgeting and just (still) hanging in there. I’m unsure whether the part-time consulting job I was offered back in July (which was to start in October) is still going to go forward but it will be very helpful if it does!
In the meantime, as others in the profession do as well, I concentrate on the intangible rewards – those incandescent moments when a student ‘gets it’ and lights up in excitement. Some days those moments are paltry and infrequent and the frustrations loom large and I leave school tired and depressed. Today was a bit like that hence this less than cheery post! Nevertheless as my readers know I am quite good a persevering through less than optimum conditions and even though I’m very new to the profession I’ve already learned how variable the days can be. There will be more good ones ahead to keep me going.