Let's not beat around the bush: teachers do way too much and get paid way too little. As a future educator, I have spent a lot of time observing my former teachers, and I can tell you that they do way more than just what students experience in the classroom. Yes, some teachers can be tough graders and yes, teachers receive longer breaks. But, that does not justify the unreasonably low wages they receive. What exactly do teachers do? Well...
1. They literally create ALL other jobs
No job can exist without a teacher giving you the foundation of it. Elementary school teachers are responsible for encouraging students to have hopes and dreams, therefore allowing them to open up their minds to any type of future. Middle school teachers lay down the foundation of each type of subject, teaching students about different fields, and encouraging them to pursue knowledge. High school teachers help students to increase their knowledge in multiple fields and guide them to a course of specialization in high school
2. They are much more than just teachers to students
Especially in high school, teachers are more than just teachers — they are mentors, confidantes, coaches, and friends. Students spend a large chunk of their lives in school, so it's no surprise that they rely on teachers for moral and emotional guidance. Students tend to turn to teachers for life advice, especially in terms of future planning. So why, again, are we paying them so little?
3. Many teachers work two or more jobs to stay afloat
Depending on what area of the country you are in, your teacher might be making just above the poverty line as their salary. This is evidently not enough to support oneself with rent, groceries, and amenities — let alone support a family. Many teachers are also tutors, side business owners, or even bartenders. They work long hours, both in school and out of it, and deserve better rights.
4. When they are not teaching, they are grading, planning, coaching, and more
Before and after school, teachers are often coaches or sponsors for extracurricular activities, which means that they are in the school building for sometimes up to 10 hours a day. On top of that, they grade work, lesson plan, and have to take care of their homes and families. (Especially women, but that's a topic for another day.)
5. They create a home away from home
If you've ever walked into a classroom, you know that it isn't blank. There are motivational posters up, students' work displayed, and other things to make students feel more comfortable. Teachers are creating safe spaces for children whose home lives aren't the best so that they at least have one place they feel welcomed.
So the next time you encounter your teachers, thank them. They did a lot more for you than you may realize, and they truly do care about your success. Give them a handshake, a hug, or (if I'm your teacher in the future) a $5 Starbucks gift card never killed nobody. But, in all seriousness, advocate for your teachers. Although they knew what profession they were choosing, it is always nice to know that someone has your back. After all, they have yours!
If you're interested in learning more, visit http://teachersalaryproject.org/resource-center.