Today when I logged onto my computer I read this article on Yahoo talking about the most surprising top ten lowest paying jobs.  Read number 4.  Are you surprised?  I wasn’t.  It made me wonder why.  Are we undervalued?  Misunderstood?  Why do we always end up on lists like this?  Why, when we have such important jobs, are we forced into obscurity and looked down upon in society?

I recently took a trip to go and see my sister.  I met some of her friends (all have at least a Masters degree) and when they asked me what I did for a living, and I told them, they checked out.  They dismissed me – it was like they felt it was below them to talk to me.  I was literally ignored the rest of the evening – it was like I was invisible.  That hurt.  And just because I teach the very young and only have an AA.  And it wasn’t the first time something like that has happened.

Why are we underpaid, under-appreciated, and overlooked?  Is it because we aren’t unionized?  If so, I think that’s a silly reason!  Is it because we’re not part of the school districts (in most, but not all cases)?  That’s another silly reason!  Just because our children are small doesn’t make our job any less important then a college professor’s!  In fact, it’s more important.  We are a child’s first point of contact when it comes to education.  We have them before their brains are fully formed – we help form their brains and essentially help form who these children become – so why don’t we matter as much as all the other educators out there?!

I’m venting, I know – but lets face it, I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I hope that with time people will come to see that we aren’t just glorified babysitters – I hope in time we get the respect we know we deserve.  But in the meantime I will continue to do the best I can as a teacher – not for society or those people who look down on me – but for the children who matter the most.

About deepbluetide

I am a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private christian school. I work mornings with 4 year olds (most of whom enter my class in July still being 3 - they're babies!) and then in the afternoon work "daycare" - which is basically my own class combined with 5 year old children. One things for sure - it's never dull! I had no idea growing up I would be teaching pre-k today! It took me totally off guard - but in the end I wouldn't change a thing! I have worked with children whose age range is 6 weeks through 12 years. In the end I have decided that my current age group is my favorite! And in case you were wondering - all names mentioned are changed to protect the identities of those involved. Enjoy!

5 responses »

  1. This has troubled me for a long time. I love to hire young teachers. They bring such energy to the job and a fresh set of eyes. I try to be very transparent about the disparity between the hard work they will do and the wages they will earn. Our school pays pretty well but we are not a full time program so no benefits or summer work. I do wish this was not the reality of our profession but it is. If this is your passion, go for it with all your heart and with every ounce of integrity you have. And don’t pay attention to what someone with a few extra letters has to say.

  2. I have always believed…maybe hoped…that when you do what you’re most passionate about, the rest works itself out. I always have to laugh when I feel I’ve been dismissed as “just a preschool teacher” and then later that same someone finds out I actually do have an MS. I am a preschool teacher. That’s what I chose. I’ve seen enough miserable rich people to keep me from making money chasing my life goal. Frustration over this idea that we are glorified babysitters is part of the reason I started my blog ( because I wanted the opportunity not only to share ideas, but to point out that those simple “cute” things are really having an impact developmentally, and that we aren’t just running around entertaining children like a clown at a birthday party. We are intentionally providing them with specific, meaningful experiences that will positively shape who they are. Chin up! Don’t let people define you by your paycheck or your papers just because they don’t fully understand what you do. That alone shows they aren’t smarter than you are! – Mandy

  3. I come at this from a different place … I am lucky that here in Australia the unions have fought long and hard for us and we get a reasonable wage. We are still not paid the same as primary teachers, but a great deal better than some. I didn’t realise that you were paid so differently to me.

    We do often lack the respect of society and I am ALWAYS asked, wouldn’t I prefer to teach in a school? Just because I’m qualified to teach in a primary setting, does not mean that is where my heart lies. I’ve worked with infants and toddlers and now preschool and I love them all and am constantly amazed by them … we are blessed to work with children. The children will remember you and be your champions, and hopefully so will their parents.

    We have to advocate for ourselves as well as for children, which is unfortunate … we shouldn’t have to.

    Those people who didnt give you a second thought … are arrogant snobs … quite simply … you are probably better off for not having engaged in a conversation with them.

  4. You speak so eloquently about this tragedy in our children’s education.

    As a former early childhood educator, this post rings true to me. In Canada, our school teachers are unionized, and well paid, and they deserve it! Unfortunately, however, if you work in a daycare or preschool, it is not the same situation. The reason why I no longer teach is because I couldn’t afford to survive (not live) on the salary I was making. I would love be a teacher again…

  5. It is the only part of my job that bothers me. I’ve taken a part time job at the library so I can afford to keep teaching preschool. I love teaching 4/5 year olds and I will do it for as long as I am physically/mentally/finacially able to do it.

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