It's easy for me to agree that teachers are not paid enough. I wouldn't have the patience to walk into a classroom of students everyday. I don't even have the patience to help my son with his homework. If you are not sure why thousands of teachers are in Indianapolis today, maybe this heartfelt post from a teacher will explain it better than I can.

Miss Craig (Alex) is a third grade teacher at Daniel Wertz Elementary. She's been a teacher for 5 years. Alex gave me permission to share her thoughts on her career choice, and to follow her journey to Indy, with fellow educators.

"I think hearing people say, “ teachers knew what they signed up for” might sting the most.

Beginning my masters program was such a debate, and the only thing holding me back was knowing that I would be putting myself in debt knowing that when I graduated I wouldn’t get paid more. I did it anyway, and needed people to remind me that I’m doing it for other reasons, not the money.
I knew what I signed up for, and I did it anyway.

I feel guilty a lot of the time for pursuing that dream. But why? Well, I have a family. Dylan and I will eventually have kids that I need to support, but instead, I put my family in debt knowing I wouldn’t get a single cent for it. Maybe someday right?

I have been Miss Craig to six different classrooms full of students, and Coach Craig to now four different teams. I do not regret a single day of choosing this profession. I’m lucky to play such a small role in their lives.

- teacher
- advocate
- role model
- social worker
- band aid giver
- extra snack finder
- mentor
-Safe place
- cheerleader
- pencil sharpeners
- entertainer
- paper grader
-pep talker

The list goes on..

I take parent calls at 6am and 8pm.
Student needs a pencil? Here’s mine.
Student needs a hug? Here’s mine.
Student needs a pep talk? Let’s talk
Students home life is scary? You’re safe with me.
Student doesn’t get reading? Let’s small group.
You need basketball shoes? I’ll find you some.
Your mom can’t make it to a game? I’m in your corner.
You’re performing at fall fest? I’ll be there.
Grandparents night? Can’t wait.
Trunk or treat? You better believe I’m dressing up.
Teacher talent show? Count me in!
You’re a parent and need help finding a tutor? Call me.
You’re running late for pick up? No worries.
Art is the thing your best at? Let me hang that up.

We did it for your kids. I became a teacher for your kids. I furthered my education for your kids. The reward being that I’m better at my job now.

However, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t parts of my job that make me sick to my stomach. I hate knowing how much we spend on standardized testing. It makes me sick. I hate watching the anxiety take over my third graders as we are not only the youngest grade taking state tests, but we also are the only grade to take BOTH iLEARN and IREAD. I hate that the second semester of teaching gets drowned in iread practice tests, and official iread testing and then heads straight into ILEARN practice testing, the official ILearn. Someone tell me a good way to explain to an 8 year old why we do this because for the life of me, I haven’t found it yet. It’s against everything I believe in, but we do our best and work our butts off to prepare them ALL while making sure they still know they are worth more than a test score.

Do you know what magic teachers could create with that kind of money being spent for the students? That thought alone makes me sick to my stomach, because I work with some of the best. We take friends who thought they hated to read and trick them into learning while helping them find a new love for it. None of which we could do if we just worked 8-3, or if we didn’t get very creative, Lean on each other, or ask for help.

You guys. I absolutely hate that some nights my coworkers are going through hell dealing with a family issue or have the flu and feel like they can’t call in because they know we don’t have enough subs and running coverage makes the overworked teacher work even harder. We do it for each other though, without making anyone feel guilty. We remind our colleagues that family comes first, always, and if you’re sick ( which is inevitable because you’re surrounded by germs)we will figure it out- but what other job do you feel that amount of guilt and sacrifice your mental, physical and emotional health for?? It adds up, and wears ya down.

Alex Craig
Alex Craig

Before you judge anyone for taking the Tuesday, November 19th off to stand with Indiana Educators, ask yourself - Do you have it in you to sign up for something knowing you might not be able to support your family? Go into debt becoming better at your job without getting paid for the extra work? Could you work the same job for 5-6 years and not get rewarded for experience? Could you become a teacher knowing the list of demands far outweigh the pay? Could you know that the job technically clocks in at 7:35- and leaves at 3:20 but there’s absolutely no way to get any of the work you need done in that time because that’s the time you spend educating students. Could you put in countless hours attending class concerts, games, meetings, back to school nights, conferences, professional development, training, trunk or treat, family fun night, that take away from your own family to remind your students you support them too?

Alex Craig
Alex Craig

Could you try to explain to third graders that these tests are important then sit with an 8 year old and remind them they’re more than a test score while they are in tears complaining of a stomach ache over a test that people decided would dictate their knowledge? Could you have the gut sinking conversation with the parents of a student who suffers from severe anxiety and tell them they need to take these tests anyway? Could you walk Into a government funded empty classroom and decide to take what little money you do have, and then beg for donations/ garage sales to create a classroom the kids look forward to coming to?

Our teachers deserve more.
Our students deserve more,and if you aren’t angry about this, you’re not listening well enough-But believe me, we are used to that too, so we’ll keep reminding you. Momentum is growing in Indiana, our voices will be loud."

Red for Ed

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