Tag Archives: Writer

Does money matter for teachers?

People used to ask me, “What do you do?”

I’d say, “I’m a Publications Specialist.” Before that I’d say, “I’m an editor, writer, graphic artist, or copy editor.” They’d nod and smile in approval and ask more questions about it. I felt respected.

Now, when people ask that question, I say, “I’m a teacher.” Their eyes pop open, sometimes there’s a gasp or a grunt or even a hiss with a dramatic “Ouch” at the end. I was startled that at first. I stopped wanting to answer people. I avoided the question when we were meeting people. Sometimes I even told my husband that I would just say I’m a writer and editor because I still am so I’m not lying or anything. I’d just leave out what I do the majority of the time throughout the year.

But, I couldn’t avoid it completely. So as I started answering that question more and more, I realized people just felt sorry for me when I said I was a teacher and it didn’t have to be bad. So, I’d laugh and grunt with them. I’d agree and then unload my frustrations on them. It felt kind of good considering that I needed counseling after all the rough weeks of teaching.

However, the underlying problem of telling people that I am a teacher never seemed to change.

There’s a tangible lack of respect for teachers. We are jokes. We are servants. We are babysitters. We can’t do anything else. We are burps in a person’s life that they’d like to forget about.

Or, we are honored for being so special that we work for scraps thrown from the dinner table and educate the children who will someday rule over all of us and either save or destroy the world. This latter “honored” reaction, I’ve found, happens a lot less than the other negative ones.

Somewhere, far, far away

According to an article in The Guardian, How the job of teachers compares around the world, there’s respect for Chinese teachers and teachers in Finland receive the monetary rewards that make teaching worthwhile and transform it into a respected, even sought-after profession.

So, yes, asking “Does money matter to teachers?” is a loaded question, I know. Many teachers would say, “Sit down and let’s talk for at least two weeks about why teachers absolutely need to be paid more.” Still others would say, “It’s not about the money.”

Despite either reaction, let’s just say this, teachers deserve more money based on the fact that they work endless hours and hold the world’s future in their hands. And, of course, I’m talking about the good ones. Those who look like they’ve been through WW III after the first week of school and lug stacks of papers back and forth from the school to their homes.

There was a video I watched about a year ago about applying to a demanding job.

People who were applying for jobs were asked by their potential employers to do what moms do without knowing that it was actually a list of tasks that every mom does. And, we all know moms don’t get paid for what they do. The people interviewing for the jobs were horrified and immediately rejected the jobs. In the end, when they were told that they were really applying for the job that all moms do, their faces changed to a knowing, a deep appreciation, a realization that only mothers do something so insanely valuable for no pay whatsoever.

I would argue that good teachers come close to that idea. Is it the same? Absolutely not, just the same idea.

To say we as teachers don’t work for the money is quite true. To say we shouldn’t demand more pay is not fair and ridiculous.

Dedication

We don’t work for the money because we’re paid nothing compared to the amount of hours we put into it. We grade stacks of papers at home throughout the week—if we are good teachers. We chase students around about homework, classwork, quizzes, and tests. We counsel them when they make mistakes and think they can’t go on. We care for them like they’re our own children. Then, we send them home to hopefully do homework, study, and sleep. We start over the next day even if we know they stayed up late playing video games and didn’t do homework.

Given that we are a world that runs on money, teachers need it not only to survive but to hope for more, to fuel their own fire if they’re giving so much of their energies to teaching.

It’s a profession with very raw, concrete value; yet, it’s treated as a volunteer opportunity offering little respect. Why would anyone with an ounce of respect want to teach or even continue to teach then?

We wouldn’t. In fact, any teacher worth their salt and willing to be honest will tell you that he or she contemplated leaving more than once. Many teachers make other plans and go as far as to pack their materials, but they remember their students, their lessons, the challenges that made them better human beings, and they think of the future without dedicated teachers.

We don’t do it for the money, but that’s precisely why teachers, good, hardworking, dedicated teachers, should be paid as much as any professional and respected equally or even more.

What’s interesting though, is that as a writer, editor, graphic artist, and publications specialist, I started out getting paid significantly less than an average public school teacher yet I got a whole lot more respect.

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Passing Through Madness

She was so much more than this.

Sometimes we have those momentary revelations that we write down and act upon or we just forget them, passing them off as frivolous or a lapse into madness, a simply unacceptable thought or notion. This happened to me more than once in the last year. I never bothered to write any of it down until now.

I’ve been away from WordPress and all of you because everything seemed nothing and then nothing seemed everything.

Now, here, I write what lingers, the remnants of love, peace, and an overall sense of wonder at how fragile and temporary everything we know and understand really is. My grandmother spent the last few months spiraling into madness. She began shutting her eyes and turning off the world around her. She tore off her clothes and screamed for her mommy and daddy. She tapped into a static frequency, her voice sounding like a message from another universe when she said, “Why do we waste so much time? Why don’t we visit each other more?”

My desperate screams of “I love you” breaking into her madness. I found that those were the only words that she understood until her last breath. My tears met the words, “Don’t cry. Come on over and I’ll make ya laugh.”

I spent the next two months visiting her in the hospital and helping her son look for an assisted living facility. Somehow the universe helped us find someone crazy enough to take her and she spent her last few weeks of life surrounded by cats and dogs who were rescued, just like her.

When I’d visit, she’d bounce from one thought to another, then suddenly she’d cup her hands around her mouth and make a sound like she was hollering but it was almost a whisper, “Mom, we’re coming.”

She’d gaze into a far off place and say, “Oh, mom’s got that look. I don’t like it when she just sits and stares like that.” Then, she’d shake her head.

I stopped calling her grandma and called her Bobbye Jean or little girl because that’s who she was. I began to realize that she became grandma for me then the rest of us. That wasn’t who she really was. She was none of those names the world, her family, had given her, the names she accepted and even embraced, creating them to give herself a place here.

She had begun her journey into madness, which I know now was her path to peace. Her revelation had come.

Two weeks before she passed, I sat in front of her while she sat in an old, black wheel chair, which the nurse had put her in because it was sturdy and she wouldn’t fall over.

She had opened her eyes again, and she looked straight at me. I thought for sure she recognized me. Bending her boney, spotted arm, she propped her fist onto her hip then lifted her chin and looked down on me. “Am I pretty?” she said.

I was startled for a second still wanting her to recognize me, to give to me, to be grandma again. Then I realized it was all over. She was dying, and I needed to help her.

I sort of spit a stifled, salty a smile and laughed a laugh of realization and, well, love. “You are so pretty, just about the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long time.” She then babbled and repeated, hand on hip, “Am I pretty?”

I said, “You’re not just pretty, you’re beautiful.” She acted like a princess and said, “I know I am.”

I kissed and hugged her. I fed her. I watched her as she fell asleep in the wheelchair. I visited again.

When asked her name, she sang, “No-oel, No-oel,…” word for word, perfectly, and in tune. I spent the holidays listening to the song, asking my daughter to play it on the piano.

On December 7, 2014, I drove to her down the winding pathways to the house she was passing through. She sat with her head bowed in that old wheelchair, a blind dog, who had had a stroke also, was resting at her feet.

I cut and cleaned her nails, her body slumped over, her hands limp. I lifted her head to find eyes with barely a pupil. There was no black, just a sea of clear blue.

I kissed the back of her neck and spoke to her, “Don’t be afraid. You need to go now. Mommy and daddy are waiting for you. Your angels are waiting for you.”

Her breathing increased as if she were on the last laps of a race. I left her knowing it was over and later that day she was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest.

I miss her.

I look for her everywhere. I imagine she’s in the wind, the trees, my dreams, but she’s gone.

She’s finally found her peace, the quiet in between.

She was just passing through, like all of us.

The Evolution before the Revolution

Those sinewy blue beings link arms and chant, rocking in unison for love, Avatars who sync into the power of the earth while the “smarter,” more intelligent beings exploit them. I think of this often. I thought of this when I saw the new J.J. Abrams series Revolution. For those of you who don’t know the basics, the premise of the series questions our reliance on technology and asks, what if the lights went out, forever?

Needless to say, there’s a laughable character who once brandished $80 million dollars from his exploits in the Google empire, but now, without lights, he’s just the victim of “schoolyard bullies.”

The Evolving Revolution
The Evolving Revolution

It’s about the loss of power, but more importantly, our loss of true power without electricity, our inability to come to grips with what’s really important to us. Many characters realize at broken moments what that power is, the enduring, everlasting power of love.

I just read a WordPress post about bringing more traffic to your blog. It was an informative and helpful post. I’ve read others like it and learned a lot including some of the posts written by Michelle W. and Cheri Lucas. I even explored these ideas over summer when I had time to write more often and when I even used StumbleUpon for one day. It was bizarre, Twilight Zonish.

But, as I read this WordPress post about traffic, I thought, well, what happens when the lights go out? What happens when there’s no electricity, no money, no this, when it’s just stories and survival and hopefully love?

I thought about this because I’m sick and grappling with the idea of staying home from work and just lying here, trying to get well. These are the times when I’m in highspeed mode but get shut down as if all the lights just go out one day. It’s similar to the opening scene in Revolution when the cars are driving, the TV’s talking, the phone’s ringing and then it all just goes dark.

I had decided that when I started using WordPress that I’d put more energy into writing, like many of you I assume. But, I’ve found once again that loving to write doesn’t mean losing your love of everything else. I’ve spent years in the field although right now my main occupation is teaching.

I’ve seen and read about so many writers and journalists who give up their lives, meaning everything else they love, in order to write. This sounds exciting and even noble at times, but is it, really? Do we have to give up everything else for that one thing we’ve categorized ourselves as being or pursuing?

When I was Freshly Pressed, I wrote about my love of writing. And I slipped quite neatly into this category. I wrote:  I write to breathe to sleep to wake to sing to love.

I do, but only when I can. I actually miss feeling that way, but there are other parts of my life I’ve decided to love more. That is my own personal evolution before any other revolution within any other large-scale change that I or you will ever encounter.

For starters, I love my children a whole lot more than writing. They remind me that writing was something I started doing on a regular basis because I was so lonely and had no one to talk to. Second, my students need me more than they know. I always choose them over anything, even my own sanity sometimes. Third, my sister may be 3,000 miles away but when she needs me, I drop everything and stay up all night with her or even worrying about her. Fourth, my husband, my mom, my grandmother, my in-laws, my friends, even my fellow bloggers and writers, your insightful stories and photographs, your art, come before my writing.

I’ve evolved because before there’s a necessary revolution to this tendency to obsess and ultimately to destroy the beauty around us, I saw who I was, who I can become, and I changed.

Mission Accomplished

In the last post about Writer’s Bloq, I had announced I’d deliver snippets about the Kickstarter campaign all week long. But, by the next day, Writer’s Bloq met the goal of raising $15,000.

Their Bloqparty Tour begins in Massachusetts then winds through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., and right on over to New York. You can find out more information at http://www.writersbloq.eventbrite.com/

There’s this piece of me that aches at the thought of missing out on these events.

Mission Accomplished

If I weren’t shackled to my husband and kids in Miami, I’d be making plans to journey to at least one. So, to all of you who enjoy the freedom that I don’t, take a moment for yourself and click your way into a writer’s haven.

There will be plenty of art, drinks, literary mingling, and more.

Writers Rejecting Rejection

Writers everywhere feel as if they’ve taken a shot to the heart when rejection hits. These particular bullets miss by an inch leaving a wound so deep that it never really heals. This week I’m going to post bits and pieces of a campaign worth discovering. Check out the video below.

Nayia Moysidis, the founder and CEO of Writer’s Bloq, not only helped me figure out how to patch up my wounds but how to fight back. For more information link on to my post titled https://bravesmartbold.com/2012/09/15/a-tribute-to-the-katniss-of-the-writers-revolution/ or click on Writer’s Bloq and  the Kickstarter campaign.

A Tribute to the Katniss of the Writer’s Revolution

The mission:  Helping great writers get discovered.

If you have a story to tell, a blog, a short story, a novel, a fierce desire to write, then you need to find Writer’s Bloq and  the Kickstarter campaign. Because it’s only the beginning of the journey, this is an incredible opportunity for writers everywhere to join and find a place for their talent to be seen and heard.

The founder and CEO of Writer’s Bloq, Nayia Moysidis, embodies a spirit of blemished ferocity in the form of love. She refuses to buckle under the pressure of defeat—a very real, crushing reality for all writers at some point in their lives.

She started Writer’s Bloq after being rejected or, in more accurate terms, ignored 89 times.

Her hair pulled back into a long braid, her intensity alive, she speaks with the skill of a confident leader. Her power lies in her compassion. She understands and identifies with those who follow her. They follow her because they trust her. They follow her because she’s one of them:  A writer.

Writer’s Bloq launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 22, 2012. Writer’s Bloq has seven days left to meet its goal in order to raise $15,000 so its team of writers can begin their Bloqparty Tour and promote their quarterly and their novels. They have raised $13,353. You can learn more about it by clicking on their Kickstarter campaign.

A writer reads her work at a BloqParty.
Photo courtesy Nayia Moysidis.

Writer’s Bloq isn’t just a writer’s showcase. It’s a home for writers to connect and draw attention their work in a way only a true hero can deliver. At the Bloqparty gatherings, writers meet up with industry professionals who have the opportunity to greet them in person, to give a voice to their words that might otherwise go unheard.

Nayia leads as Katniss does. Nayia braves the sorrows of talented writers being threatened with extinction.  She’s the leader of a writing revolution because she embraces the fear inching through the publishing industry. A fear, if ignored, could become a reality.

She found a solution to a problem that’s grown into an epidemic, the kind that kills a writer’s basic instinct, to write and be published. Her solution means that writers don’t have to do what I did many years ago.

A place for your work.

Inspiration Remembered

One of the main reasons I began this blog stems from this young, fiery soul. I had met Nayia Moysidis through friends and had gotten an email about her blog http://www.nayiaisms.com/.

When I read her blog, I chuckled. I read another post and cried. I read another and thought, “I used to share her passion for writing.”

So, right before bed when I was supposed to be too tired to think, the thoughts rushed around blocking my desire to sleep, so much so that I started writing again. And, I haven’t stopped since.

Yet, what I discovered was startling and sickening. I found that I’d become a good writer, not much different than I was 20 years ago, but I had nothing much to show for it. Okay, I had a resume with Publications Specialist on it and I could announce Award-Winning teacher with confidence. That was nice. But, I couldn’t proudly say, “I’m a seasoned writer because I’ve written this, this, and this.” I had worked in the publishing industry but I had created work for other people, most of whom either openly or insidiously claimed the work as their own.

I had been rejected as much or more than Nayia, so I packed away my dreams and slipped them under the bed. I became a very practical, very acceptable person, my true power sedated.

The worst part was that I had sold myself short. I had accepted my rejection as a truth instead of a reality.

To write this, as a writer, is even more painful than saying it out loud because when I say it, I usually contort my face and alter it or I say it as a source of twisted inspiration to those preparing for the beginning of their journey. It’s never truthful because it hurts too much.

I started out writing passionately and with a desire to change the world like so many artists. I did write. I have written. I have created, but I didn’t do it with the bravery I know I should have, the bravery I could have.

The Good Fight

So now, I support, love, and cheer for those who do what I didn’t. And, I do what I didn’t with trepidation. I say trepidation because after so many years of telling myself that I can’t do something, it’s hard to break that pattern.

If you don’t talk, if you don’t write, if you don’t take those chances that feel as if you’re stepping out onto a tightrope, you’ll just coast or even worse, you’ll just wander and wonder (yes, the spelling was intentional).

If the Katniss of this writing revolution existed then, I would’ve wanted to follow her. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. She refuses to accept the stinging reality that only a handful of writers becomes published authors and that the majority of those who self-publish find little success.

Nayia fights the good fight, uniting writer with agent, writer with publisher, writer with an industry that itself wanders around lost and confused about where to look and how to construct a new path.

Her success ensures victory for all writers and for all those who honor the written word because she embraces the bitter, the wounded, and the lost then gathers the ripe and the ready to fight.

So, find her, read her, then support her and the writers of Writer’s Bloq and the Kickstarter campaign. Join them. Become one of them. It’s only the beginning of the journey.

Written by Lisa Chesser

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