Why I teach despite the modest remuneration of the profession

Margi Bhansali, a National Board-certified teacher, reads to her pre-kindergarten students.

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It’s a typical Saturday night and all the aunts have gathered around the kitchen island to cook dinner as they begin their favorite conversation topic: bragging about their kids. An aunt said, “My daughter just got admitted to Stanford early! We’re so excited!” Two other aunts roll their eyes while another says, “Congratulations! My son’s robotics team made it to the finals. My mom is a silent observer of the conversation until what she finally finds the courage to say to others: “My daughter is a kindergarten teacher and I am proud of her.

When I tell my extended family that I’m an early childhood educator, they smile politely and say something like, “That’s great, you have summer vacation with your kids!” or give me a questioning look, “But your husband is a doctor, why do you work?” My career choice is canceled, even though I have an advanced degree and I Certified by the National Council. It’s not respected, even though I work hard and make an impact. And as a woman, my family even told me that it would be a better use of my time if I didn’t work at all, but instead raised my own children instead of “just watching other people’s children.” .

I am Asian American. My parents came from India in the mid-80s, a few years before I was born. Like many immigrants, they struggled to return home, so they chose to come to America for a better life for their children. They left behind everything they knew – family, food, culture, language, way of life – just so my siblings and I wouldn’t have to struggle. In their minds, economic security was the only way to a better life. In many ways it is, so they traveled around the world for it. This is why, according to stereotypes, Asians enter high-paying professions such as medicine, law and engineering. The reason many Asian Americans don’t get an education is that it just doesn’t pay enough to justify the sacrifices of our families. That’s why the aunts brag about college admissions and extracurricular activities: for them, it’s the only way to succeed economically, and it validates their decision to move to America.

I had not planned to become an educator. I started college as a journalism major. While in school, I applied for a co-op job that placed me in a Title I pre-kindergarten class. I spent the year with a class of 20 children and saw firsthand how their teacher changed their lives and helped their low-income families succeed in school. I have seen these children become more adept at interacting with their friends, resolving conflicts on their own, and learning to listen to and follow instructions. By the end of that year, their families have learned the importance of reading daily with their child at home and have mastered navigating the public school system. I became an early childhood educator because of this impact.

Today, teaching is more than just a job, it’s my passion.

Research shows that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5. The work of early childhood educators is essential. Our most important results are not measurable on standardized tests, so it is difficult to prove the impact of my career on my family and on society. What I do in class has long term effects on How? ‘Or’ What children will continue to learn. My role as a pre-kindergarten teacher is to teach children how to be curious, how to ask questions, how to socially engage with peers, and how to solve problems when the going gets tough. While there are studies that show the direct impact of early childhood education on things like third grade reading levels and high school graduation rates, there is much more. difficult to measure being a well-rounded citizen.

As I interact with my family and others who question my profession, I ask them to reflect on what our world would be like if we did not have dedicated educators. I ask them to think of a single influential teacher they have had and to ask themselves how their educational path would have been different if everything their teachers were like that because they felt supported, respected and well paid. What if more people decided to go into teaching because the profession could make up for everything our families gave up to achieve the American Dream? Not only would we have a much more diverse teaching body, but our children would really get the education they deserve.

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Margi Bhansali is a National Board Certified Teacher and teaches pre-kindergarten for Chicago Public Schools. She is currently a Senior Editor Teach Plus.

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