The Paycheck is the Bonus

Twice a year my wife receives a monetary bonus for performing her job beyond company expectations.    Does this bother me?  No – not at all.  In fact, it doesn’t bother me that anyone would receive any kind of monetary bonus.  But I can sense that other people who aren’t teachers are reluctant to mention to me that they “got a bonus.”  I imagine that they expect me to scoff at them or rant about how I, as a teacher – a profession that gave them the tool set to perform their job that includes bonuses, am bitter with envy.  The truth is, I’m not.

What Do You Make?

To be honest, I have no idea.  I know it’s public information, so there are people in the community that have a better idea than I do.  The monthly check is directly deposited, and I have never opened a single pay stub to see what amount found it’s way to my account.  Am I financially irresponsible?  Depends on who you ask I guess.  But the truth is…I don’t care how much I make.  I didn’t get into the profession of teaching to become rich.  What teacher does?  I got into this profession to make a difference.  Taylor Mali, an ex-middle school teacher turned spoken word poet, has written and performed a poem that has made its way into thousands of teachers’ email inboxes.  It’s properly titled, “What Teachers Make.”

Why Do You Teach?

To be honest, I walk through the doors of my school with the sole focus of bettering the lives of my students intellectually, socially, and emotionally.  By going into this profession, I have taken a vow to dedicate myself to every student that walks through my door.  I don’t see teaching as a “job,” but as a profession that allows even myself to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.  It’s teaching that has taught me to look critically at myself and accept criticism from others.  Those criticisms are merely opportunities to grow and improve as a person.

What is Your Teaching Philosophy?

Juniors and myself dressed up as Outsiders for Homecoming,
three years after reading the book in 8th grade together.

During my student teaching semester, I asked many teachers in the district for nuggets of wisdom that they could provide me.  Some of the veteran teachers gave some good advice, but one piece in particular struck me as odd.  She said, “I’ve been teaching for 30 years.  And even if you change the life of one child, it makes it all worth it.”  Initially, this sounded nice.  But after further reflection I thought, That’s kind of sad.  If I taught for 30 years and had a positive impact on only one student, I should have gotten out at year one!  Even if I teach 100 kids total in a school year, I have 180 days to have a positive impact on EACH of their lives.  And if at any point I didn’t strive for THIS standard, then I need to get out fast!  Because I am then NOT helping my students.

So that’s what I think about everyday when I walk into my building…Whose life am I going to try and have a positive impact on today?

This is Why I Teach…

Just this week, I received this message on my English with Mr. Bormann Facebook page (and below you can see my reply):

I teach for comments like this.  I teach to know I am making a difference.  I teach to make the next generation better than my own.

It’s comments like this that make me want to teach everyday.  To me, the paycheck is just a bonus.

Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!


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