Sunday, March 29, 2015
sol15 #29: a slice of my (past) life
You see, this school is a diamond in the rough. A private school in West Englewood, a neighborhood where gangs, violence, and drugs are the norm. However, when you walk in, the colorful walls and artwork greet you, and you immediately hear children laughing, singing, and talking about their learning. Every classroom door was kept open, an invitation to come in and see the wonderful things taking place. I worked there for four amazing, tough years, but it was time to move on. I was getting married and we wanted to buy a house, I also got my reading specialist degree, and wanted to pursue a position in that, something my old school didn't offer.
A day in my past life consisted of getting to school by 7 a.m. and eating breakfast with my kids beginning at 7:25. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because it was a time for us to converse and start our day on a positive tone. We walked up the stairs to start our day at 7:50 and spent the majority of it working on reading, math, and writing until 3:00. Our students had three 30- minute specials each week (gym, music, and Spanish), and most of the time teachers had to stay with their class. Lunch was 20 minutes, and our students spent their recess with us as well, since there were no supervisors. After the bell rang at 3:00, we would spend until 3:30, dismissing some students to go home, but most stayed in our extended day area for a couple hours after school. We would eat snack and help get them transitioned. After 3:30, my time would be spent teaching dance, planning one of our many shows that the students put on, mentoring new teachers, and/or attending staff meetings which were held weekly until 4:30. Most days, I didn't even get to sit down and prep for the next day until 4:45 or so. Phew. Private schools don't have unions, therefore, there was no "rule" stating we needed a certain amount of prep time, nor did we get paid for any additional extra-currculars we took on. (I feel mighty lucky to be given this at my current position!)
I'll never forget when my principal interviewed me for this position and said over and over that this wasn't a job, it was a mission. Boy, was she right. I don't think many she interviews now realize this, and that is why some are leaving after a few months or a year. I know that teaching isn't about the money, but at some point the $750 paycheck every two weeks isn't going to cut it. Public or private, teachers are teachers. Why can't there be a set salary for teachers everywhere, one that is more equal and fair between teachers of public schools and teachers of private schools?