Saturday School is a program at my site where students make up hours for time they were absent from class. On one hand, it is often a “study hall” atmosphere, where kids just sit in a room “doing time” from 7:30 until noon. But one of the hallmarks of the program is that teachers can agree to come in and teach what we call a “Saturday Scholars” session in an area of their expertise or passion: creative writing, for example, or drawing, math, history, woodworking, coding, etc. For doing this, the teacher is compensated at the contractual curriculum writing rate.

A Google survey arrived in my email inbox from my school early this morning, whose final question was the following.  

You will see my response in italics below.

Question: Saturday School has not had many teachers able and interested in staffing it. Is there anything we could do to make this more attractive to teachers to do so? (We cannot change the rate of pay due to the union contract)

Unfortunately you answered your own question in the parenthesis. Saturday School is a very noble and valuable program, and teaching a “Saturday Scholars” session makes it even MORE valuable and MORE noble, but at $ (I inserted the rate here),  it is not more valuable than time with our families, our home life, or our own personal pursuits. I say this having considered it many times myself (“C’mon Saturday School! Baby needs news shoes!”). Furthermore, I would assume that, as teachers, we find working Saturday School more attractive than driving for Uber, painting houses, or working the cash register at Wal-Mart. And yet, I picked those endeavors because I know teachers AT THIS SCHOOL who are doing those very things to make ends meet.

Teachers are givers, true, but they cannot continue to be asked to be sacrificial givers no matter how noble the cause.  I hate that it comes down to money–hate it!–but in this society, we have chosen to trade our lives for dollars and even though I knew that the contractual rate couldn’t be changed even before you mentioned it, to say “What would make it more attractive, (but don’t say money because we can’t change that),” sidesteps the underlying issues.

I think the assumption and the REAL question you’re asking–unless I’m reading it wrong–is “What would make you give EVEN MORE than you already do, even though you already do so much?” when I will tell you that every single teacher I know already gives generously, genuinely, and graciously far beyond what they are adequately compensated for. And yes, the Yin and Yang of it is that we chose this profession fully knowing and accepting its financial limitations, and we also know that we all need to step up and do our part–even when we’re not getting compensation commensurate with our contribution. I get that.

I know you can’t change any of this, so I’ll just say that I appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts I want to thank you for listening.

Other than that, some cookies or muffins in the morning might be nice. 🙂  

Saturday School is a valuable program, as I said, and I am never against opportunities for teachers to make more money on the side. But I wanted to show those of you who read this blog and follow my message, that I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and at least expressing the thoughts to those who ask that most teachers give and give and give far above and far beyond the level of their compensation to the point where it is simply expected of them and that, at some point, The Powers That Be cannot be surprised when, stretched to the outer edges of our limits, we finally say, “No, thanks.”  

Nobility and sacrifice are wonderful, but they don’t buy paper towels at Costco.  TZT