Lately I've seen the adage "Teaching, we're not in it for the income, we're in it for the outcome" floating around the internet.
Really? Teaching is my profession for which I expect to be compensated. With money. Teaching is my job. My job allows me to pay the mortgage, eat and have fun. It is not something that I do merely out of the goodness of my heart.
I know the purpose of this saying is to state that as teachers, we are caring and altruistic, looking for more than the money. In my case, all of this is true. I do plenty of things that are not necessary because I care, because I want to improve the learning experiences, and sometimes the lives, of my students.
But let's be clear: If they stop paying me, I will stop showing up.
There are certain things that I do my in life that are volunteer tasks. Sometimes the line between professional responsibility and volunteer work is blurred, as some of what I do for my school community is volunteer. There is a difference between what I have to do and what I want to do. My job, to fulfill the obligations of my contract, is what I am paid to do. The extra things that I do, that benefit people in the community, I do because I want to. Usually it is fun or exciting or entertaining for me and that is my payoff. That is not to say I don't enjoy what I am paid to do, it's just that it doesn't matter whether or not I enjoy it. It's my job! Enjoying it is a bonus.
There has been a lot of buzz about the "worth" of teachers. If we start to claim that we are not worth being paid, how can we expect to be paid? A good teacher does a lot things so that his or her students achieve curricular outcomes, learning to be productive citizens of their future society. Teachers help students acheive outcomes that are worth a lot to society, both current and future. To suggest that we do not deserve our income is both false and insulting.