When we were young, we were taught from a very early age to respect our elders, our parents and anyone with higher authority than us. We were exposed to shows such as "Arthur," "Dragon Tales" and "Cailou" that taught us to show respect to our friends, family and teachers. However, frequently in high school, I was confronted with the complete opposite — a lack of respect for teachers and what they do for their students. Being a teacher isn’t easy — at all. Being the daughter of a teacher, I saw the late nights, early mornings and rough days that accompany the life of a teacher. Now, as I make my way through college and narrow down what major is right for me, the idea of being a teacher lingers in the back of my mind. The idea of educating young minds, forming bonds with students, watching your students grow and lastly, watching those students grow up and try and better the world is refreshing. But first, those teachers deserve more respect than what is often given to them.

Waking up early and teaching a classroom of children is not a walk in the park — especially when the pay isn’t that great either. There is a common myth that teachers make just as much as other professions. The fact of the matter is, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, teaching professionals start at a national starting salary of $30,377. This is considerably lower than fields such as computer programmers ($43,645), public accounting professionals ($44, 668) and registered nurses ($45,570), all of which require similar training. And it doesn’t stop there. The more years that teachers put into teaching, the wider the salary gap gets. The National Education Association (NEA) conducted research based on U.S. census data and found that the annual pay for teachers has sharply decreased over the past 60 years to the annual pay of other professions with a college degree. The average earnings of those workers with at least a four-year college degree are now over 50 percent higher than the average earnings of a teacher. So, to the student out there refusing to do their homework or not listening to what their teacher has to say, just remember they aren’t doing this for the money — they want to see you succeed.

Teaching is a demanding profession. Like I said before, it isn’t easy. We might think teachers get summers off along with their students, but really, most teachers spend summers working second jobs, teaching summer school or taking additional classes to advance their teaching careers. They don’t have a lot of downtime. Students tend to forget that school never really ends for a teacher. On days that students have off, what are teachers doing? Probably attending meetings for a staff development day. When students get off for summer break, what are teachers doing? For the next week, they are probably finalizing their grade book, entering in finals and submitting grades. School often starts in late August or early September, but teachers are back way before organizing supplies, setting up their classroom and preparing for the curriculum of the year and how to effectively get students to learn.

If you ask a teacher why they teach, the most common response is “to make a difference.” I think back to all of the teachers I have had from preschool to my first year of college, and every one of those teachers has gone out of their way to help me succeed as a student. Staying later after class has ended to explain something, giving me extra feedback on papers to tell me what I need to improve on, spending a little more time in class explaining something so on the next test I will get that question right. They do all of this because they care. They care about each student individually. They want to see their students graduate, whether that be from preschool or college. They don’t want to see you fail because then a little part of them thinks that if they could’ve focused on something a little bit more, tried a little bit harder or spent a little bit more time, you would’ve succeeded. It’s time we start showing those who educate us a little bit more respect because they deserve our best effort for all that they put into us.