I met some very cool teachers yesterday, when I went with my daughter to the parent-teacher day. It was after 8 in the evening. Those teachers have been teaching from 8 in the morning and I expected to witness some exhaustion. But I spoke with teachers who were totally energetic and enthusiastic about their jobs and their students. One teacher said she simply loved teaching. “I hate the compensation. It’s not proportional to the time I invest, but I love teaching and I love the students”.
When we left I said to my daughter that I am pretty impressed by the teachers’ love of teaching. Their enthusiasm certainly has a great effect on the students and the atmosphere of the school (Ohel-Shem High school in Ramat-Gan). She agreed with me. Even if, like many high schoolers her age, she would sometimes rather skip school, she certainly acknowledges the dedication of the teachers she meets.
I need to stress that we do not look at things from a totally objective point of view. Shaii excels at her studies, she’s one of the top if not the top student of her class of gifted students. Still, the school has 11-12 classes of each grade, grades 9-12. And the classes are different from each other. With about 1,500 students learning there diversity is a given.
Still, something works there. However displeased the teachers are from their salaries – which includes probably everyone at the school, they still enjoy teaching and love what they do. They express devotion to their work and gain a lot of respect.
This was a very pleasant revelation for me. After I visited a few local teachers forums I was under the impression this can’t happen.
However, here is a warning:
With these salaries this ideal situation, even at the best of schools, can’t last.
One of the things they taught us in business management is that satisfaction is a requirement for the employee to do his job well. They also taught that money alone cannot guarantee satisfaction. However, money alone can guarantee dissatisfaction. In other words, even an employee that loves his job greatly might leave it if he is under paid.
I was talking to this teacher. All bright eyed, her face illuminating when she speaks about teaching and her students. She has a Masters degree in chemistry. Could probably earn about 4 times her teaching salary if she goes to work for a high-tech company. But she loves to teach. “Only problem is”, she admits, “that if the main income is brought home by the husband, and he is forced to leave work early so I can do my work well after school hours, then his work is hurt, and the family is not compensated.” So he is the one pushing her out of teaching. How long can she resist? At the end of the day it the bread that counts.
And I am worried. Because if such passionate quality teachers will be forced out of teaching I am afraid to ask what we’ll be left with?
Really, Seriously, it’s time policy makers start absorbing that without a total change of attitude to teachers’ salaries the whole future is at jeopardy. This teacher might have given up on her high-tech salary, but her students will be earning higher salaries before she reaches retirement. Someone has to come up with a way to reward those teachers, for getting their students those high salaries.