Adjusting to a lower salary is a major theme in the author’s journals. She states in 2006 that she is aware finances will be a challenge if she decides to teach. Many entries simply state “This pay sucks” (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011). In 2009 she states she is “Feeling financially stressed out and stuck”(January 9, 2009). Her entries continue to bemoan the lack of higher compensation and in 2010, she says “The amount of work and paperwork is overwhelming. Overworked. Underpaid” (November 4, 2010). She is concerned that the only way she will be able to earn more money is to take on more work and that as an art teacher she wouldn’t be able to charge the higher tutoring fees that an academic tutor could charge (2010).
In July of 2011 the author writes a particularly lengthy entry about compensation. She is aware that the lifestyle changes she has been making will not be temporary. It hits her that her life might not be the one she imagined.
“It is difficult to accept that, while my finances will improve, they won’t improve to the extent that I would be able to afford the lifestyle I imagined for myself. I may have time off for vacations, but I don’t have the finances to take them, particularly since my vacation schedule would only allow for peak travel.
Had teaching been my first career, I would be making approximately 40% more than I am now… Of course, it’s still barely more than I made 10 years ago, living in [a less expensive city], working in the business world… There is a huge difference between the salary of a first career and second career teacher.
I realize now that most people who choose teaching as a second career are married and their income will be secondary to their spouse’s. I can see what I will make 5, 10, 15 and 20 years from now. It is not much. I suppose, when I made the choice to become a teacher, that I didn’t fully comprehend the way it would impact my life. I knew the first five years in particular would be difficult. But I don’t think I fully appreciated just how difficult it would be.”
I think what is most difficult to accept is, unlike in the business world where there is always a possibility of a large raise (and where I’d be making more money to begin with), I won’t ever be able to have the life I described. There is no raise large enough. There is no possibility of a large promotion. This is it. That means I have to re-imagine myself in some ways. (7/6/11)”
This entry is important because it illustrates how the low financial compensation associated with teaching touches on other themes that emerged from her journals. The inability to schedule vacation outside of peak travel speaks to a lack of autonomy in scheduling. She indicates that teaching might be viewed as a supplementary or secondary profession when she realizes most second career teachers are married to a higher-earning spouse. Finally, she acknowledges the only way to make substantially more money is to leave teaching or take on additional work since there is no opportunity for advancement.
- Rethinking Teacher Compensation (edweek.org)
- Why $100,000 Teacher Salaries Make Sense (mindfulstew.wordpress.com)