I have several brand new teachers in my building this year and for the first time in my career I’ve felt old. Not just experienced, but old. I find myself thinking back to my own first year of teaching, fifteen long years ago. That school year is forever burned into my brain. I was so young, so naïve and I was so overwhelmed.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched my new teachers learn and grow. I’ve remembered so many of my own firsts from my inaugural year as an educator, like the first time I encountered and ELL student and had no idea what to do, the first time a student threw up in my room and the first time I had to deal with an upset parent.
Today, however, was pay day in Hilliard City Schools and I found myself reminiscing about my first real pay day. I remember exactly how much I was paid on that first check. I remember driving to the bank to cash it. And, I remember having to use most of it to pay my rent. Today, I was excited for my first year teachers to be paid for all of the hard work they’ve put in to creating a great learning environment for their students.
But, every educator knows that we don’t become teachers for the money. Now, don’t worry, I’m not writing this to complain about teacher salaries, I think we make a great living. Instead I want to remind us of a different kind of pay day.
A great friend and mentor of mine, Jane Leach, helped me recognize that we get “paid” all the time. You know what I mean, those moments when the light bulbs come on for a child, when a parent tells you what a difference you’re making, when a student from years past comes back to visit and shares all of the great things he or she has accomplished…those are the moments when we really get paid.
Over the past week I’ve been paying close attention to teacher “pay days” and I realized that when you look for them you find them quite often. Just like today in the cafeteria when our art teacher walked in and every kindergartener began waving excitedly, then one little girl said, “Mrs. Cline! Mrs. Cline! Come here! I have a secret!” Mrs. Cline walked back towards me smiling after hearing the secret. I couldn’t help but ask if it was a good secret to which Mrs. Cline replied, “Yes, her secret was that she loves me!” PAY DAY!
I got paid the other day when I reached into my mailbox and pulled out a letter from two 4th grade girls. They wanted me to know that they have been helping kindergartners and first graders on the playground and wanted to set up a table to recruit more helpers. They also told me that they are working hard to live up to the guiding principles in our school: Take care of each other, ourselves, this place and this moment. PAY DAY!
So, my friends, let’s certainly enjoy our pay days and go buy ourselves something every now and then, we’ve worked hard. But, don’t forget that we get paid every day. We just need to take a step back and notice it, revel in it, and remember that we are making a difference.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.