10 Things Teachers Pay For, According To Experienced Educators

Most of us have teachers who’ve given us something precious in our schooling years.

Whether it’s a funny cartoon pencil on Children’s Day or motivational stickers for getting full marks on a worksheet.

MOE’s recent policy involving teachers having to pay for parking in schools caused quite a stir online. So let’s set the record straight now.

It’s only fair if we account for other costs that have not been declared, on every teacher’s behalf.

We spoke to a few educators to find out what teachers already pay for on a daily basis — things we often take for granted.

1. Children’s Day gifts

Once Children’s Day comes around, teachers all over Singapore start brainstorming for trinkets to gift their students.

These are not extravagant gifts, but taking into account that most teachers have more than one class, the final sum may be hefty.

Estimated Cost: 3 classes x 40 students x $4 per gift = $480/year

2. Miscellaneous class gifts & supplies

From treating a form class to McDonald’s or buying prizes for top-performing students, and rewards for motivation like stickers, handwritten cards — these would fall under miscellaneous class gifts.

As do supplies, class decorations, motivational posters, or printed photos of students and school outings to brighten up the classroom environment.

Estimated Cost: 3 classes x 40 students x $3 per student = $600/year

3. Additional study notes & resources

Contrary to popular belief, a teacher does not get rewarded for completing marking past school hours.

Add to that the time taken to create lesson plans, carry out research, and set exam scripts for students during “protected time” on the school holidays.

Using the median salary of a primary school teacher at $4,400/month, and an estimated 3-4 hours of additional out-of-class time to prepare these materials.

Assuming a teacher has a 8-hour work day, this comes up to $27.50/hour pay.

Estimated Cost: Hourly Pay ($27.50) x 4 hours/day x 5.5 days/week (including weekends) = $605/month

4. Answering parents’ & students’ messages

This includes emails, phonecalls and WhatsApp messages after the slated working hours at 5pm.

Costs include internet and mobile data to reply these students, personal time aside.

In most cases, these messages involve emergencies, so it’s not exactly possible to address them on the next working day too.

Estimated Cost: Mobile Data Plan ($23/for 5GB month) x 0.75 GB  data replying to school-related stuff + $2/month phonecalls + $3/month emails = $22.25/month

5. Consultation time for remedial & supplementary lessons

For weaker students, additional time out of schooling hours is sometimes needed to coach them.

Teachers are not usually paid for conducting supplementary lessons and since the market rate of tutors is $30-$50/hour, this would come up to a considerable amount.

Estimated Cost: Standard tuition rate ($40/hr) x 2-hour remedial x  2 classes x twice a week = $320/week

6. Helping students with financial difficulties

These costs involve getting snacks for long school excursions, contributing to pocket money or buying the occasional lunch for underprivileged students with financial difficulties.

Estimated Cost: Approx. $50/month

7. Chaperoning overseas trips or competitions

Sacrificing family and free time for competitions, rehearsals and trips to act as a chaperone is one of the duties our teachers have to undertake.

Not to mention the fact that these activities often fall on weekends, weeknights or take place overseas.

Some schools would sponsor a percentage of the air ticket for teachers, but other expenses are usually not covered.

Estimated Cost: $300 miscellaneous fees per trip + cost of air ticket (up to $1500) = $1800/year

8. Weekend workshops for parents

Now, teaching students is one thing.

But organising workshops to teach parents how to deal with their own children does occasionally fall under a teacher’s job scope as well.

As expected, these workshops usually fall on weekends, outside of schooling hours due to the availability of parents.

Estimated Cost: $50/hr x 4 hr workshop x twice a year = $400/year

9. One-on-one parent-teacher meetings

Everyone’s familiar with the dreaded meet-the-parent sessions — the meeting where teachers get real with parents about every student’s performance in schools.

In other words, 50% counselling, 50% getting reprimanded sometimes by parents for their children’s less-than-stellar performance.

Estimated Cost: $60/hr x 4 hr meeting x twice a year = $480/year

10. Writing proposals & getting quotations from vendors for school events

Admin work is a major component of a teacher’s responsibilities.

Besides managing their form classes, printing & collating endless consent forms, grade sheets and attendance figures, teachers are also in-charge of ad-hoc school events and CCAs.

Estimated Cost: $12/hr x 3 hr admin work x 5-day work week = $180/week

Cost of a teacher’s sacrifice — priceless

We know of many teachers who have dedicated themselves to their craft and students.

Many of whom do not seek to calculate their sacrifices down to each dollar.

Teachers may also be forking out more from their own pockets on a daily basis, but these figures are probably as close to an estimate as we’ll get.

Deducting parking fees from a teacher’s monthly pay check, seems like a clear sign of where our priorities lie.

Most of all, the sad reality remains — educators in Singapore seem more overworked and underpaid than ever.

And that may explain why a report in 2016 mentioned how over 5,000 teachers have left the service over the last 5 years.

Featured image from HRMASIA.