Teaching is the most important job that exists, but teachers aren’t always treated like it. In fact, many of these professionals can relate more to college students than they can to their college-educated peers.
Don’t believe us? Based on conversations we’ve had with teachers across the country, we know most can relate to at least one of these five ways we’ve found that teachers are treated like college students:
1. They have to burn the candle at both ends.
Between studying, homework, classes, and work, college students are known for having to sacrifice sleep. Unfortunately, college students who want to become teachers aren’t likely to catch up on sleep once they enter the profession.
The school day starts early, and teachers have to be up even earlier to prepare their classroom for the day. According to a Scholastic survey of more than 20,000 teachers, the average workday for a teacher is 10 hours and 40 minutes. That puts teachers at an average of 53 hours a week to do their job, and that doesn’t include the number of hours teachers with a second job work…
2. They have to work nights and weekends.
Much like college students, many teachers leave the classroom at the end of a long day and head to their night job. According to a 2018 analysis of federal data, nearly one in five teachers work a second job to make ends meet. Half of those teachers are working second jobs that are outside of the education field.
Many of the night and weekend jobs teachers are taking not only stray from the education profession, but in many cases they’re the same jobs you’d find college students doing. Teachers are educated professionals, but they’re spending their nights and weekends doing lawn-care, rideshare driving, various service industry jobs, and more to supplement their income.
3. They have to live with roommates.
It’s the norm for college students to live with roommates, but this is quickly becoming more common for K-12 teachers. This is especially prevalent in U.S. cities with rising rent costs, like Denver, Colorado, where teacher pay isn’t increasing with the cost of living.
Many teachers in need of roommates are struggling to find others to live with, as it’s much more difficult for them to find roommates than it is for college students. This is a current concern for Denver physical education teacher, Sean Bowers.
“We’re just at that time of our lives and it’s getting harder and harder to find roommates,” said Bowers. “All my friends are either married and don’t want to live with another random person, or I’m looking out for random people on Craigslist.”
4. They have to pay to play.
College students who want to be teachers face tremendous amounts of debt to enter the profession. The average student loan debt owed among Americans is more than $30,000 per borrower. This amount is even higher for the 57 percent of teachers who have one or more postgraduate degrees.
Once teachers obtain their degree and start their career, the spending doesn’t stop.
“If you want to move up in education, you have to have more education, you have to be certified in something else,” said physical education health teacher, Tyson Gardin.
It’s required for teachers to renew their state teaching license every few years, which they have to pay for out of pocket. Depending on the state, the requirements can cost hundreds of dollars in mandatory fees.
While college students have to pay for their own school supplies and books, many teachers have to pay for an entire classroom’s worth of materials. A 2018 AdoptAClasroom.org survey found that 96 percent of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. That adds up to an average of $740 per year.
5. They have to take classes.
Teachers aren’t done taking classes once they obtain their degree. To fulfill the state requirements to renew a teaching license, teachers must complete a mandatory number of hours of professional development courses.
Each state has different requirements their teachers must fulfill. For example, Texas teachers are required to take 150 hours of continuing professional education every time they need to renew their teaching license. That’s nearly four weeks of classes – on a 40 hour per week basis – that teachers must fulfill, alongside their teaching responsibilities, without additional pay.
Despite all the challenges, millions of professionals still find teaching to be a rewarding career unlike any other. But they need our support.
You can help our nation’s underfunded teachers who are spending so much of their own time and money to ensure the success of their students. Find and donate to a teacher who is asking their community for help here.