At the end of the school year, I had an awakening.
It all started when I left school in the middle of the day to run an errand as the senior class advisor—I was about to enter the world of the unknown, the world of the normal adult workday.
I’ve never paid much attention to what other adults do during the workday. During the summer, I’m not working myself, so I don’t give other adult workers much thought. It wasn’t until I had the chance to mimic a “regular” adult during the workday that I started to notice some unusual things.
As I sat in the local coffee shop instinctively checking my watch with that nervous twitch that I’ve developed in anticipation of a bell going off in the middle of a bite, here were some of my thoughts: Do other adults always take so much time to eat lunch? Wow, they talk a lot. Was THAT a swear word?
I decided to do some further investigative work, and I discovered some big job perks that teachers don’t get:
1. Getting to talk to other adults.
Conversations about your favorite dinosaur or the best college major are fine for one day but try to entertain these conversations day in and day out for 180 days. Try asking your lawyer cousin if he’s ever really seen a fly wearing a tie down the bay, and then be prepared for looks of concern and confusion. Why? Because adults in other professions talk to other adults all day long, and unless they have small children, they are not likely fluent in “teacher talk.”
2. Getting to actually finish those conversations.
Have you ever had a conversation with another adult while your eyes are locked in on someone else, yet the other person continues talking as if you’re making normal eye contact? If so, you’re definitely a teacher. As a teacher, you’re usually too busy multi-tasking and watching for potentially misbehaving students to have a real conversation from start to finish.
This doesn’t happen to people in the “real world.” They just causally look each other in the eye and converse back and forth until their conservation is finished! Imagine that.
3. Wages based on the investment and time you’ve put into your professional career
New research shows that teacher salaries have fallen 4.5% over the last decade. And teachers make less than other similarly-trained professionals. Don’t get me started on bonuses—an unheard of in the teacher world.
4. The trust to do our jobs like grown-ups
This is definitely not the case in all schools, but sometimes it can feel like just because you teach children, you get treated like a child, too. See: heavily regimented sign-in books, not being allowed to drink coffee, and needing permission to use the copier.
5. Getting to take sick days when sick.
No one sucks it up when they’re sick like teachers do. When adults in other professions are sick, they’re actually told to stay home by their bosses and colleagues. They simply take a sick day when they’re sick. There’s no reason to make a detailed plan for someone else to fill their shoes for the following day, and there’s no worry that they can’t find someone to take their place in their absence. For most adults, their work just gets put on halt for a day.
6. Not having a mess to clean up after being out sick.
Is there any other profession that requires workers to have substitutes? For most working adults, they never have to experience the dreaded substitute note with records all of the mishaps you’ll have to fix when you get back to work.
7. Getting to both eat and taste their food.
Almost all working adults that I have encountered have an hour long lunch break. I know the look on your face right now, and I’m making it too. Enough said.
8. Using “adult language.”
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! People in the real world swear at work? (See what I did there?) Naturally, this one is all about context, but the bottom line is that other adults don’t worry about their coworker’s mom calling them up because they slipped and said “a**”.
9. Peeing when nature calls, not when the bell rings.
Just when you thought you mastered the three-minute, between-bell conservation, nature calls. One longer-than-necessary student story, one “What did I miss yesterday?,” one co-worker phone call, and your time is up. You can’t leave your students unattended or interrupt your lesson flow. Will you ever get to go? It can be agonizing. Here’s a fact that may sting so brace yourself: people who work in the “real world” just go pee whenever they have to go.
10. Getting to take time off whenever.
BUT if it’s any consolation, they don’t get a summer break. 😎
What other job perks are teachers missing out on? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, 13 jobs teachers have, but don’t get paid for.
I realized the truth about 1 hour lunches several years ago when I started eating lunch with my mother at her assisted living facility. My plate would always be clean, while she and her friends at our table would have perhaps finished a third of theirs. I also regularly finish dinner ahead of my husband, something I never did before I became a teacher.