Your students really need you. They need your training, education, experience, compassion, and dedication in order to become well-educated citizens. And yet, if you, as a classroom teacher, continually make thoughtless, unnecessary mistakes, then your students will lose out because you'll lose your teaching position.
Remember what the great American educator Henry Brooks Adams once said: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” You'll never be able to affect eternity if you're cashing unemployment checks, so protect your teaching job by maintaining the highest professional standards and by delivering the highest-quality instruction possible.
Teachers' average annual salaries vary from state to state. For example, Alabama's average is $40,347, while the District of Columbia's average is $61,195 — a $20,848 difference. If you think your state might be dragging its feet in terms of teachers' salaries, and if you want more pay equity nationwide, think seriously about supporting the legislative efforts of your local teachers' association.
Job-protection also involves supporting your local teachers' association because sometimes, misunderstandings arise and administrators think you've blundered when you're convinced you really haven't. Teachers' associations have been straightening out misunderstandings and protecting the rights of public school teachers since the founding of the National Education Association (NEA) in 1857 and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in 1916. Both of these national labor organizations have local chapters in virtually every school district in America, and can often help you protect your job when you and your principal can't see eye to eye.
Don't think of job protection merely as paycheck protection, to the exclusion of every other consideration. Sure, you want to protect your livelihood, but if you're certain you've seriously messed up, you'll often have no choice but to wave good-bye to your students.
On the other hand, if you can improve or if no insurmountable problems exist or if your principal has simply made an error in judgment, then stand up and hold on to your job so that you can continue to affect eternity. In subsequent chapters, you'll learn how standing up for your rights means standing up for the rights of all teachers as well as students and administrators.