No, I don’t have a crystal ball or a super power. I have a salary schedule. In addition to revealing exactly how much money my coworkers make, a salary schedule also lets me predict the future in the sense that I know exactly when I’ll crack the six-figure salary mark.
I imagine there are a lot of people working in different sectors that would love to have this information at their fingertips. There’s no guessing. There’s no wishing. There are no bonuses, no commissions, no extra effort, no deal closings to be calculated or approximated. There’s just a 20×20 grid with time of service on one side and advanced degree hours on the other. And after almost a decade of staring at this chart, I’ve realized exactly one thing: it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.
It’s Not Good
If you’re not an intrinsically motivated person, I imagine a salary schedule can kind of take the wind out of your sail. Under a salary schedule, I can work infinitely harder than the teacher down the hallway, but I’m not going to make any more money than her. Now that test scores are tied more closely to teacher evaluations, I could certainly be fired a lot faster for low test scores. But there’s no financial incentive for better scores, no year-end bonus the best scores. As a result, there are some people who argue that this is a recipe for mediocrity. A salary schedule like this inspires people to work just hard enough to stay proficient at their jobs but does nothing to push them into the strata of excellence.
It’s Not Bad
On the other hand, competition is not conducive to education. Sure, there will always be teachers who try to have the most inventive lessons, the most expansive classroom library–why hello there!–, the most thorough handouts, but generally, the my-student-is-your-student attitude prevails. The students I teach this year will be shuffled along to a new teacher next year. Rinse and repeat until graduation day. And while I’d like to think that I work miracles, the truth of the matter is one teacher can only do so much each year. Of course, I put in countless hours laboring over my lesson plans to have a positive impact on my students. But I know that I can’t do it alone. I collaborate with colleagues all the time, and my students are better for it. If there was a bounty tied to test scores, what motivation would anyone have to share? The teacher’s lounge would turn into a weird version of Survivor with people wearing pantsuits and Clarks instead of bikinis and Birkenstocks.
It Just Is
Most days, a salary schedule suits my temperament just fine. I am incredibly driven when it comes to most things in life; this holds especially true for teaching. No external motivation is needed for this Type-A individual. I also really treasure opportunities to foster real relationships with my coworkers, learning from them and sharing my ideas in return. Yes, most days, things are just fine.
Then there are days when I spend time running numbers. How quickly can I max out all of my advanced degree credit hours? What will it cost? What else* will I study? Then, I do the same for Mr. P’s schedule. Ah, yes. I could spend a lot of time playing this numbers game.
But for the most part, I don’t. It isn’t because I don’t want to dream bigger. Instead, it’s because I know the only thing I’m likely to do with that extra income is to save or invest. Our budget doesn’t change from year to year; our savings does. Every time I get impatient or antsy about how much money I make, I remind myself that I’ll get there one day. And in the meantime, my salary schedule is what it is.
*I already have a Master’s degree and two other advanced degree certifications on top of my undergraduate degree and several endorsements. Maybe I’ll get a physical education certification next. Ha. Maybe after I learn how to not trip on flat ground.
So Tell Me…Would you enjoy a salary schedule? Do you think it would work well for your career path?