I put in a few extra hours this week; close to twenty, but who’s counting?

I can tell you who’s not: everyone.

Everyone, including us–the teachers. These extra unpaid hours we put in are commonplace to us and we don’t ask for much in return.

We won’t mention it to administrators; they’re likely putting in some extra time, too. We won’t mention it to the parents; we’ll look like we’re complaining. We won’t mention it to the students; it’s not their fault we don’t have enough time in the school day to grade the papers they wrote. 

I put in a few extra hours this week; it wasn’t documented on a time clock or entered into a computer. It wasn’t compensated. I doubt it was even noticed.

Usually, it doesn’t bother me. I accept the extra work as a part of my life in this profession. I don’t mind staying up late to make sure the next day runs smoothly. However, there’s a time when it does bother me.

When I propose an issue that’s met with an “it’s not a big deal” or when I voice an opinion that’s met with blank stares and no action, I care. I want to pull out my imaginary time clock and show just how much I care. I want to punch in those hours I’ve spent problem-solving when my problems aren’t being recognized. 

I don’t want pity or a cookie or a plaque. Sometimes I just want respect.

I don’t only want it; I feel that I deserve it. Not only because of the extra hours, but because of how I spend them. Most days, the nobility of the job is enough for me; the fact that I’m making a difference in children’s lives makes my heart sing. I am the guiltiest at failing to notice those extra hours for what they are—work. 

I fail to recognize them because even if I did, I shouldn’t. As a teacher, I should be fulfilled by my calling and my difference-making and my big heart. As a teacher, I seem needy for mentioning any lack of support and pay. Shouldn’t I be my own support system? Shouldn’t I be satisfied with being paid in love and nobility? Sadly, most people would say, “yes.”

Shouldn’t I just keep my mouth shut about the lack of respect?

In our society, we preach to our children that education is key. In the same society, we show children through our actions that it is not worth it to invest in our schools and certainly not our teachers.

We show our children through actions that teachers are here to serve and are the first to be accused when something goes awry. We show them that it’s okay for teachers to spend their hard-earned money on supplies because there’s no funding for what we need. We tell our children to respect one another no matter what, but teachers aren’t getting the same respect as their higher-ups. Day by day, we are inadvertently showing our children that respect is not something we must do, regardless of what we say.

By Not Respecting Our Teachers, We're Teaching Our Students To Do the Same