long hours and little pay but extremely rewarding……Kindergarten Teacher

I graduated with my BA in Elementary Education in June 2000 and last year I completed my first year of teaching in a kindergarten classroom. I taught at a wonderful Christian private school with the greatest principal I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

The previous teacher who held that kindergarten position is a very good friend of mine & helped me connect with staff, ect. before leaving to have her baby. I loved the children, the parents (for the most part), the great staff, and awesome principal.

The year got better & better as it went on, the classroom becomes one big family, with kids spending 35hrs a week with you & eachother. The most unbearable part of teaching is the hours you spend in preparation & school activities. I easily spent 55 hours plus working each week. My day was usually 7AM to 7PM Monday thru Friday & sometimes I would come in on the weekend. The hours might not be so bad but the job is very physically/emotially demanding and the pay is extremely low.

1st year teachers in the public schools here get about $25,000/yr (which I guess is really good compared to past wages) and I was getting $20,600/yr at my school. The pay difference is not that big at 1st, but as the pay scale increase per year the private/public school scale is much different.

This year I’m taking the year “off” to substitute teach in different grades/schools as well as trying some different careers all together. More experienced teachers tell me the hours get better, but I have seen very tenured teachers staying later than me some nights.

In general I believe the pay/hours/energy are always going to be less desirable than other job expectations. You can’t go into teaching thinking it will be like the average 40 hour/wk job, but on the other hand, if you have a great work environment like I did last year you might determine that the positives outweigh the negatives of the career.

Looking for a good school to work in is very important, I really needed all the encouragement/praise that I received last year from parents/staff at my school, it kept me sane! Of course, the chidren are wonderful as well and you truly see that you are making a difference in their lives. I’m willing to work for low pay & hold 2 jobs to supplement my income, but it’s my goal to work 40 hours week so I can have a social life that I can enjoy while I am still young.

This year should be a good time for me to explore what I really want to do for the next 30 years of my life. It’s already been a refreshing time for me, however, I do miss my students terribly & I’ve already gone back to visit them & the staff several times!