professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Good, better, best

A recent article caught the attention of some of my friends: The article declared that the best places to teach were the ones where the salaries were the highest (when adjusted for cost of living and inflation, etc.). My friend, the super-smart Donalyn Miller, sent a letter to the editor declaring that, given new legislation in Ohio, it might not be the "best" place to teach.

And I concur. What makes a place the "best" place to teach is not solely about the money. As a matter of fact, there are so many factors that go into making the work environment a good one for teaching.

1. Respect from the administration--a recent blog post by a principal touted things like allowing teachers to come to school in pajamas one day, giving them candy another day. Folks, this is not respect. Respect is what I experience constantly from my supervisors. My department chair listens to my suggestions, seeks my advice, sends me notes letting me know who appreciative she is of my work.

2. Respect from colleagues--I love my fellow teachers. We truly enjoy our meetings. All voices are heard. All points of view are considered. Even Skyping in from the west coast this week raised my spirits.

3. Autonomy--And perhaps this needs to be first, but it is an essential. I am given total autonomy to teach classes. I select textbooks and other materials. The assignment and evaluations are my decisions. Some of us who teach the same courses confer, but there is no pressure for us to have identical syllabi, approaches, etc.

4. Meaningful work--Very little of what I am asked to do is work that does not contribute to the benefit of the department, college, and university.

5. Opportunities--I am encouraged to conduct research, to write, to speak and present about my interests. Were it not for a colleague, I would never have traveled last summer to Sweden to present. Were it not for my being a part of a library science department, I might never have discovered my home within ALA, TLA, YALSA, and ALSC.

Yes, money is nice. I wish my pay were commensurate with someone who has a doctorate and nearly 40 years of experience on the job. I wish my raises did not rely on the merit system. But, it is something that is last on the list when it comes to other factors. So, the best place to teach? I think I am there and have been there for 20 years.
Tags: happiness, money, teaching
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