Dear Educators: Stop Saying You're Doing It For The Kids

I anticipate some mixed and charged responses to this post, read it through and then let’s chat. Hit me on Twitter @FamandBizCoach

Dear Educators, 

Please stop saying you do what you do for the kids. 

Yes, I understand that if you were focused on money, there are literally thousands of other jobs you could do and be paid more than you are as a teacher.



Fast Food Management.

Hair Styling.

I know that you love what you do.  You work hard, you stay up late, get up early and invest countless hours of that “summer vacation” professionally developing yourself to be better prepared for the next round of kids that walk into your classroom, school counseling office or gymnasium. 

I KNOW you do it for the kids.

Why the heck else would you work long hours, for little pay, moderate respect and minimal appreciation?

I know no one in their right mind would work a job where they spend thousands of dollars a year just to do their job if they didn’t love what they did. I know you wouldn’t take out thousands of dollars worth of student loans just because. I’m sure 6th grade soccer is as thrilling as it sounds, but since it’s not a nationally televised past time, let’s just assume you’re doing that too because you really like those kids.

But here’s the deal.

Every time you give that, “I don’t do what I do for money” line, all you’re really doing is reinforcing the idea that you’re not worth what you are.

Sure you would do it for nothing, and you are doing for less than you should be, but until you acknowledge what you are really worth, you’re selling yourself AND your students short.

People, and by people I mean all of us, have gotten off easy. We’ve allowed ourselves to pretend that that we can teach kids the value of education by giving them more tests, more crowded classrooms, overworked and underpaid teachers.  We all sit around and cheer for sports teams as if kids will value education more than basketball when they see their favorite teacher working at Kohl’s all summer while someone is currently scouting LeBrown James’ 11 year old son to give him a college scholarships because his father won an NBA championship.  

We are the reason kids think basketball is a better option than reading.

When we wear the badge of poverty as if it somehow makes us better at shaping and molding young minds, what we are really doing is feeding into the undervaluing of all that we do, all that we stand for and all that we mean to those kids we love and teach.

So please do me a favor, tell the world how much you love teaching. Tell every congressman and senator and postal worker for that matter how proud you are to counsel children and help them read and manage their emotions and everything in between.

But also tell them you too want to own a house. You also have dreams of sending your own children to college. Tell them the starting salary for teachers doesn’t leave much disposal income without delivering pizzas on the weekend after you grade papers and do after school tutoring all week long. 

I’m not suggesting you become a money hungry corporate clone, focused solely on the bottom line, but I am asking you to honor your value, the value of what you do and who you do it for.  

Maybe you would do it for nothing, but no you shouldn’t have to.