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There has been a lot of talk in the news about teacher salaries. There always is. However, not all of what is being said is true. Today, I want to tell you the ugly truth about teacher salaries. I want to share with you the harsh reality in which I reside. 

Please remember, I am not complaining. I want you to really know the truth so you can understand. Without understanding, there can be no resolution.

The picture above shows the salary schedule, however, do not be fooled. Many districts around the country have frozen salaries which means that this scale is not our reality. We do not get raises every year. In fact, I have not received a raise (step increase) in the last five years due to the salary freeze.

I read a really great article this week "Why Poor People Stay Poor" - this sums up exactly how I feel. For the details, read on! 

My Salary & Benefits

My contract says I make $40,300 a year. This includes an $8,000 bonus from the tax payers to increase my salary. It is not a guaranteed $8,000. It can disappear next year or whenever. When it does, my salary goes back to it's normal amount of $32,300 a year. 

That doesn't seem so bad but it is not what I bring home. After taxes, social security, and my mandatory retirement fund, I bring home $2,394.98 per month.That means my family actually sees $28,739.76 per year. It's a big difference from that $40,300 that you thought I was making. 

Then there is the amount I spend on my classroom each year. These are things like school supplies that parents can't afford to send in, tissues, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, treats for parties, donations requested to raise money for field trips, students with fundraisers for things my kids could only dream of participating in, things for projects, winter gloves for the kid who doesn't have any and it is sub-zero outside, decorations to make the classroom look inviting, colored copies to make the assignments more appealing, games, recess equipment, alternative seating for children with special needs, whiteboard markers, and more.

I spent $2,679.81 last year.  Every year the amount changes depending upon the needs. Many say I should stop buying these things. I love my job. I love teaching. If I want to keep my job, these expenses are not optional. They are needed in my room and I have to provide it or I will be replaced. 

My salary is now $26,059.95 per year. I have a Master's Degree and $108,000 in student loans. I have to continually add to this balance to maintain my licensing. I will never be able to pay of my loans on this salary. If I could receive social security, it would be denied until these loans are paid. As a teacher, my social security benefits are severally reduced due to an old law that says our pensions and retirement will keep us in our old age. It is no longer true. 

Some say you should ask for help. That number on my contract is what the government sees when I ask for help. It is what everyone looks at. Not the number that I bring home. As such, there is no help for someone like me as I make too much money.

Remember I am not complaining. 

In the past decade a lot of the teacher benefits that used to make a smaller salary beneficial have been stripped away. Gone are the days of tenure (job security) and affordable medical care for the entire family. My medical insurance is covered but to cover my children, it will cost me $1,262.03 per month. Not happening on my salary. Minimal life insurance is covered but short and long term disability are not. 

My Family

This is a picture of the boys who still live at home. They have never had after school activities. No sports or Cub Scouts or anything like that. I am a teacher. I have to be available for my students. They have made a lot of sacrifices as well for me to be a teacher. 

Holidays in my family are different. There are some years when we couldn't afford a tree. We had  a Charlie Brown tree one year. This year our tree is beautiful! It was a gift to us.  Under it were four gifts. One pair of long underwear for each child and the new video game they asked for. They were very excited. They have never see a tree with a pile of presents under it for them. 

Birthdays are when I make them a special treat or I will take them out to lunch somewhere. Just the two of us. They order and I steal a fry or two.

Remember I am not complaining. 

This is normal for us. If you asked what my children want for Christmas or Birthdays, they won't be able to tell you. They are so used to not asking they don't know how to ask. They will tell you it is not necessary. They are such sweet, understanding boys.

My Home

I live in a newer home. Rent is more than half of my monthly income. I am used to this as this has always been the case for us. I have never only paid 25% of my income for housing. I can't imagine all that extra money I had. Can you imagine trying to find a home for a family and only pay $500 a month rent? I can't.

I pay about $200 more than I would for an older home because a few years ago my sister-in-law rented an older home. Her first electric bill was just over $800. She cried for days. Took on a second job to pay it and then moved. I have researched and found that by paying a little more each month the electric bill doesn't scare me. 

The walls are bare as is the rec room in the basement. The children have never owned a dresser. The dining room table and chairs is a folding card table and matching chairs. The office is the same and off the books are kept in boxes. No lamps, no decorations. The pantry is small but if we are careful the food will last the month.

It is "minimalist" in design. Not the look I was going for but the look I can afford. I am proud of the home that I can provide for my children. These pictures were taken when the house was messy and not at all ready for photographing. I wanted you to see a real day inside of my home.

Remember I am not complaining. 

The boys and I own a minimum amount of clothing. Two pairs of pants, 6 shirts, winter gear, winter shoes, and summer shoes. I own two dresses as well in case we want to be fancy. I own very little jewelry.  

My car was made in 2002 and has 260,000 miles on it. It is paid for. Each day I pray it keeps going. It works great now. I save up my pennies to keep it maintained. It has to keep running. Not running would be a major crisis in my family. 

There are no family vacations or weekend trips. No movie theaters or theme parks. There are days when we have to stay home as there is not enough gas money to leave the house. 

Thoughts for the Future

Each year as I am wondering whether or not my contract will be renewed, I wonder if I should stop teaching. I love teaching. I willing sacrifice so much as does my family so I can teach but I wonder if it is fair. 
Remember I am not complaining. 

I think about a second job. Most teachers have one but when I look at my children, I want to spend some time with them. It is not a lot. I spend most of my time at home working on things for my classroom. The money would help so much but I can't ask them to sacrifice one more thing. So I say a few prayers and hope God's got this. 

I went into teaching as I felt passionate about helping children become their best selves. I can't imagine another career I would love more but the harsh reality of it is that my family and I pay dearly every day so that I can teach someone else's child. 

I will think again over the summer about another career as I head out for another college course. I will wonder if there is a job where they value my expertise and pay me for it. Where the number they say that I am paid, will actually be what my family sees. 

I will smile when people laugh about how teachers get paid for the summers off as I rewrite curriculum while watching my children play in the summer sun. I stop for gas and realize that the attendant is making more than me. I will browse through the want ads searching for greener pastures. 

I will think of all of my students and their smiles and that light bulb that goes off when they finally get something. And then I will think that there is no way that I can leave them. They need good teachers and I am one of them. 

So I will open up that textbook and finish the latest course. I will watch my student loans continue to increase. I will crunch numbers to make my budget balance. I will tell my children I am sorry not today for the millionth time. 

I will teach. 

Have you heard about the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies? They have been around for several years and I absolutely love using them in my classroom. In fact, these strategies are one of the reasons I miss teaching language arts. I love the stories and the read alouds and the fun strategies. 

I have the whole collection of beanie babies to go with these strategies in a box somewhere. When lice was no longer a reason for students to have to stay home, they went into a box and have never come out. 

While I loved having the posters and the animals, I really needed more to support me and my students in the classroom. I hunted high and low for a product that would do it for me and then ended up creating my own. 

Introducing my reading strategies kit! I am slightly biased but I absolutely love this product!

Posters -  I have included 8.5 x 11 sized posters. I hung these over the top of my whiteboard when I taught reading so that they were always in front of my students. 

Small Group Supports - We spend several weeks at the beginning of the year learning each specific strategy and then practicing it. I have a set of laminated mini posters that I keep in my small group kit. These I can lay on the table in front of the student to help them with the specific strategy we are working on. 

In addition, I have a laminated reading buddies mat. This is a mat of just the animals with no clues about what each strategy is. As we progress through the year, I use this more often. Students can use an expo marker to cross off the strategies they have tried or can point at the strategy they are choosing to use to assist them. 

Center Activities - To aid in learning our strategies, I have a created a matching game. Students first play alone to practice the strategies. Then we use it like the Memory game and race a friend to see who can collect the most matches. Lastly, I make a second set and we play Go Fish. 

I also have a worksheet that looks a lot like my reading buddies mat. Here my students can either take notes about what each animal represents, can name the animals, or I can project and assist them with it. I have used this page as an assessment and an interactive notebook page. Just depends upon the age of my students and their capabilities and my needs. 

Student Activities - One of my biggest struggles was preparing my students for Dibels NEXT closed statements. Using the posters and strategies they know so well, I introduced my students to how to solve cloze statements using poster-sized worksheets. Students could then create their own posters and learn this valuable skill!

In addition I created a double-sided bookmark. On one side is our reading buddies all hanging out together excited to read and on the back are reminders on what each animal reminds us to do. I keep a laminated set in my room and then laminated a second one for each student to have as their own. 

Remember, you can get your own copy of this valuable resource in my store. I am also going to be giving away one free copy to a randomly selected person who comments below. 

Flocabulary is one of my favorite websites! I stumbled across it a few years ago and have used it ever since. I have been blamed many a time for causing other teachers to need to purchase a subscription. You just have to! It is one of those teacher tools you can live without!

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

This is the first video I ever saw and you can bet that every single one of my students has this video stuck in their head. Trust me, you will be showing this to your students as well.

See what I mean!

You will have students who will be wondering around singing this chorus and teaching it to their younger siblings. The younger siblings will show off to their friends about how much they know. Then they will go to their teacher begging them to play the song. They will get tired of the students asking and will come down and ask you if they have to play it. You will say "YES!" and then your class will get invited down the hall to teach her student.

Soon, you will walk into an assembly and you will see a group of students dancing and lip singing. As soon as the other students figure out what they are doing, they will join in but whispering it because well now its a competition. Soon the song spreads and the voices get louder. The next thing you know is you have almost every kid in the gym singing the song and the ones that don't know it are left wondering why they don't know it.

True story.

Not only does Flocabulary make A-MAZING videos on a ton of different topics. They create lesson plans and activities to go with all of their songs. Check out their lesson plan for 5 Parts of a Story. They truly do all of the work for you!

I have my students add almost everything to their notebooks. This means that when we learn a new song, they are responsible for it. As such, I made interactive notebook pages to go with the song. This closely matches the anchor chart in my room. It is just one more tool that I add to the great program  Flocabulary has already created.

Leave a comment below to be entered in for a chance to win your own copy!

Ha Ha Ha! I laughed until I cried when I saw that it was time to write a post about a happy, healthier me. It so didn't happen this week.

My middle son was wrestling with his older brother downstairs. Giggling and acting like a fool he decided to run up the stairs to escape only he never made it to the top. Hello concussion #5. Ugh! So I follow all of the proper procedures for handling someone with a concussion. This child has me well versed in it.

But he wasn't getting better. He was getting worse. Losing consciousness mid-sentence, losing weight, sleeping 17 hours a day. So off to the ER we went after a long talk with the nurse hotline. Doc there says it is not an emergency. He will live. Go see the pediatrician.

So off we went the next day. Where he was then directed to 5... count them 5 specialists! Different appointments, different days. All at the same hospital. I spent a lot of time searching for Elevator S or Q or whatever it is this time. I drank more coffee than water. I walked A LOT. And I tried to remain calm.

That was my week. I only made it to teach once. My poor sub! That is a post for another day. More of this next week as well as we are not done yet. So far we know he did something, its not good,  and he won't die. 

Week 3

I did not feel beautiful at all this week. Not even close. I felt fat, exhausted, out of shapely, and badly in need of a shower and more than 3 hours of sleep in a row. 


Current Weight:
Weekly Loss/Gain: 0

Goal: 135 pounds
Weight Loss to date: 0

<whistles while looking around for something to distract you with>

Weekly Thoughts:

As I forge onto another week at the hospital waiting for answers, I will remember that I get to choose how I feel. I can choose water over coffee. I won't skip meals. I will find a way to relax and sleep.

Tips for the ER/Hospital:

  • Bring a Water Bottle (or two)
  • Avoid Coffee - It only increases your stress level
  • Avoid Caffeinated Drinks - No matter how tired you are; don't do it!
  • Try squats instead of pacing - it will take your mind off of it and decrease stress
  • Stretch
  • Pack a healthy snack
  • Wash your hands at least every 30 minutes
  • Or better yet... bring hand sanitizer and use every 15 minutes
  • Bring your own tissues
  • Wear a mask if you are healthy (there are tons of sick people there!)
  • While waiting for test results... go for a walk and discover how many floors you can walk before time runs out
  • Bring a card game to play

Weekly Challenge:

I need to menu plan. There is a ton of stuff at home and no one is eating it. I need to pack healthy things for me to munch on. I did bring my computer with me as I needed to write sub plans and email them in as I wait.

While I was on a brain break... I made this cute menu planner. Get yours for free! My goal is to print and use this for the upcoming week. 
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