Saturday, November 13, 2010

Room Necessities

As I read yet another comment on the Courier-Journal's website about teachers having "excessive" salaries, I stopped to think what all my salary goes toward.

Do teachers make a lot of money? You know what, no we don't. I'm sorry, we just don't. The commenter in question referred to our "six and a half hour work days" and that's just not accurate either. I check into work between 6:30AM and 7:00AM depending on how quickly I managed to get my son out the door to daycare. There are days when I don't leave until nearly four in the afternoon between grading and meetings and such. So that's generally about a nine hour work day. That's just when you're in the building, too. I bring things home to grade from time to time and can spend another hour or two at home doing that after my son has gone to sleep.

The problem with our salaries is that we use part of it to support our classroom. I do get a small budget, however the majority of that goes to print paper in order to make copies for my worksheets and assessments. A large amount of my kids rely on me to supply them with paper, pens, pencils, hand sanitizer, lotion, tissues and other items.

Sometimes I can get the kids to buy these items and give them extra credit. However, if I should run out of tissues in my classroom, I never hear the end of it. How many people who work in offices are regularly berated by their clients for not having tissues on hand? As I mentioned, I don't have room in my budget for these things, so I buy them myself. I'm also expected to buy books to keep my classroom library current for my students.

Obviously, these are small items, but it really does add up. During the winter months, it's not out of the ordinary to go through several boxes of tissues a week. While students ask to "borrow" pens and pencils, they rarely give them back. A pack of pens or pencils lasts about three or four days at the most.

Another room staple that non-teachers probably never think of is that I keep a good deal of food in my room. I have a lot of different types of snacks hiding in different places in my room. Why? Well, sometimes I get hungry or forget my lunch. However, the real reason is because some students don't have the money to pay for lunch and are too embarrassed to use their free or reduced lunch option. By fourth or fifth period, they are usually so hungry that they can't focus. Buying food for kids isn't out of the ordinary for many of the teachers in my building.

Unfortunately, despite being paid such "excessive" salaries, keeping a room well stocked on necessities can begin to wear on a teacher's bank account. I really should learn to stop reading the comments on articles.

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