I don’t think anyone goes into teaching for the cash. For those of you who were considering it, let me save you some hassle; it’s not a particularly lucrative field. While it has been daunting to watch my engineering paycheck dwindle into a high school teacher’s salary, I can honestly say that, what my job lacks in financial incentive, it makes up for in a host of other ways.
I am not entirely sure that it is possible to itemize or quantify the kinds of benefits that come packaged with this line of work. They range from a kind note from a supportive coworker to snow day glee that rivals that of my own high school years. Personally, I find my happiest compensation comes from my smart and hilarious students. Sometimes they give me the best nicknames (O.G. Kelley – the Original Gangster, Elsa, Miss Frozen, D-Money, Miss K-Swag. It’s an embarrassingly long list). Sometimes they abruptly understand something I say and ignite with possibility. Sometimes they stop by their local bodega on the way to school, pick me up some mangu for breakfast, and bring it to my first period class so I can try the breakfast they love.
One of my major goals is to stay sensitive to the small, non-monetary ways in which I am compensated for my work. My paycheck is minimal, but the love, fun, and community I enjoy with my fellow teachers and students would dwarf any paycheck anyways. The list of ways in which my work is quietly and warmly rewarded is endless, but, in a way, I think the mangu says it all.