A Letter to Young Teachers (AKA: Future Millionaires)

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Looking Good!

Dear Young Teachers,

Congratulations on your decision to change peoples lives for a living.  You have put yourself out of the equation and chose to become a public servant.  You chose to serve your community, it’s people, it’s personalities, and their children for years to come.  You will spend more time with the kids of your community than some of their own parents.  You get them for 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, for between 175-185 days a year.  You will be a major part of these kids lives forever.

They will learn academic skills and life skills from you.  You will teach them time management, respect for themselves, and those around them, and you will teach them delayed gratification for future success.  You will become another parent to some, showing them the way through life’s complicated processes.  You will buy lunches, school supplies, and pay for field trips to help children feel normal and less distracted by their hardships.  You keep a snack drawer not for you, but for your students who missed breakfast and can’t concentrate on their lessons.  You will laugh with them,  be a role model for them, and show them a path to success through hard work and perseverance.  They will learn more about life from you, then math, science, or social studies that they will forget over time.

People will try to bring you down.  The students, parents, administration, your own peers, and friends and family at times too.  Be thick skinned and know that they are only scared and uncertain with their words, and need you to be there as their scapegoat.  You are strong enough to handle it, and you will handle it with class and grace.  You will show them that no matter what happens, there is nothing to be scared about because people like you are there to help.  Time will pass, and as they look back at that moment they will realize you were there and respect you for your class and grace in those situations.  Your worst students will be the ones that come back to see you years later.  They will thank you, and they will be your greatest achievements.  Your best students will go on and be successful on their own, most likely without seeing you again.

People will also lie to you all the time.  It starts when you are young and in school yourself, and your teachers told you how poor they are.  How they took a vow of poverty, and they only teach because they love their job.  The job is lovable!  Changing lives, summers off, two week Christmas, and still get a Spring Break!!  What’s not to love?  But, you can be rich as a teacher.  There are many millionaire teachers in the world.  They had a life plan,  got out of debt quickly, kept their lifestyle to appear poor by driving a 15 year old Honda and keeping a simple wardrobe (This is just frugal).  They took advantage of retirement accounts, maxed IRA’s, 403b’s, and 457b’s.  They slowly, over time, build a large nest egg, while quietly changing the world around them in the classroom teaching.  If they had two incomes from a marriage, they still lived on one income.  Keep your bills low, so you can retire on your terms, and live the retired teacher lifestyle of traveling around, and seeing all the things you taught to your students.  Always pay yourself first and make the savings hurt a little.  Remember, you can play the part of poor teacher, and secretly be accumulating massive savings rates!  Don’t listen to those other teachers who tell you that what you are doing is impossible.  Just keep saving and maybe your example will inspire others around you to change the dialogue and all us teachers can get rich together.

Again, Congratulations on this decision to change lives for a living.  It will be awesome some days, and sometimes stress filled horror shows.  You will work hard, but you will get your reward from watching personal growth in a child and building lasting relationships with your community.  Remember you can be rich too.  Both monetarily and with friendships over the years.  It will take time, patience, and sacrifice for both, and in the end it will all be worth it.  Enjoy the journey…and become an rich example for others around you.

Sincerely,

Josh

 

 

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4 Comments

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  1. So important. And teachers shouldn’t feel bad for NOT living a life of poverty. When you apply for jobs, LOOK at the salary schedule. It’s so easy to want to take any job (and you might have to!), but inform yourself. This isn’t the traditional path where you can always ask for more money later. You have to know what you’re getting into before you sign your contract.

    I also think it is so important to tell young teachers that they may very well never see the full impact they had, but they have an impact nonetheless. That was a perfect point to make!

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    • You have to look at the salary schedule for sure. Also, some districts have extra benefits, like my district gives me free healthcare and $15,000 life insurance policy all free. I took about $2,000 less from my last job, but the healthcare alone is making me richer. My first job I got $32,000 and year, and now I am getting $65,000 a year 13 years later. Shop around and definitely network your way to good high paying districts.

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  2. Hi Josh,

    A few points/comments about your post:

    1) I am a substitute teacher and am applying to jobs in a good paying district. That said I wonder if I would be willing to do this for lower then $30k. I want to adopt a somewhat frugal lifestyle so I’m not looking to blow my entire salary. That said I still think that salaries should be more then many teachers currently have to get paid.

    2) Do you think the teachers who work 2 jobs (teaching and a part time job) seem to have wild spending that is not “mustacian” or do you think they aren’t paid enough? I ask as I’m having this internal debate myself and unfortunately can’t be very vocal about it within most teaching circles especially surrounding the news of strikes.

    3) I love your ideas for attaining more money as a teacher. You and Ed have been people I look towards and admire for this. That said, is there something to be said for getting used to your position and teaching load? As a first year, I’d think twice about taking on more responsibilities at the fear of overwhelming myself. Similar to me wanting to get good at things and not spread myself too thin.

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    • When I started I subbed and worked at Lowe’s lumber department. My Lowe’s money is what I lived on and my sub money was savings. So if you are too low a second job is part of the scrambling process. Keeping low bills and mustacian principles is the key to saving once you get to the higher paying jobs. Don’t go crazy with the bills. I get made fun for my little old Honda and my brothers clothes I wear to work, but I’m saving a ton so I’m so much happier. I can also speak up to administration since I got some FU money to get what I need in the classroom. As far as work load, once you gather some materials from other teachers and get a mentor, you shouldn’t be recreating the wheel every school year. Do what works and change what doesn’t work. I do a lot of project based lessons that allows students to explore their interests and allow me to monitor their progress. Grading becomes the one thing a week I do once it’s all planned out. Get a good mentor when you start out and observe other teachers during your conference times is a great plan for noobies. Good luck and if you need more help I’m here!

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