There’s a thing called the Adams Equity Theory. It was named for John Stacey Adams, a workplace and behavioral psychologist, who cooked up a job motivation theory almost 50 years ago.
Essentially it states (as taken from the Mindtools website):
“… employees become de-motivated, both in relation to their job and their employer, if they feel as though their inputs are greater than the outputs.”
If their inputs are greater than the outputs? The entire profession of teaching is build around the idea that the teacher will put in more than they ever get out because teaching is, at its heart, a profession of giving, sharing and illuminating.
Does this mean we don’t need “outputs”? Of course not.
Now the first output one thinks of in the world of work is money. However, I am not one who rides the “Teachers don’t get paid enough” horse… but I could. Teachers do not get paid enough and as a result, (as I have said before) we do not attract America’s best and brightest to our ranks.
Teach for America (TFA) has done a good job these past years of trying to turn this around but their attrition rates are really high and we are seeing a lot of “in for short bursts” type of folks as opposed to lifers in the field.
What are the other “outputs” we can expect?
Positive recognition by society is one. Yet, these past few years have seen teachers demonized in the media as a bunch of incompetent coconuts. Indeed, we make fat, easy targets and heck, why can’t we blame the fact that Johnny can’t read on Johnny’s teacher?
Personal satisfaction from “doing the work” of being a teacher. For me, this one carries the day. It’s the juice of my career and if one was to take this away from me, I could no longer go on as an educator.
The lifestyle of being a teacher. Working with young people keeps you young. Having summers to enjoy summer is a big thumbs up. Remaining in a school environment when you are a person whois attracted to “learning” is another. The teacher lifestyle offers a lot to many of us and we are, in many ways, like ducks in a pond when it comes to assimilating to the lifestyle requirements demanded by the school year.
Indeed, I could list many outputs… but will they ever outnumber the inputs demanded by the job. From taskmaster to surrogate parent, counselor to confidante, ally to coach to disciplinarian to mediator the inputs we put in are perpetual and endlessly shape-shifting.
And so are we destined to be unhappy in our work? According to according to Adams Equity Theory…
“Employees can be expected to respond to this (i.e. when inputs exceed outputs) in different ways, including de-motivation (generally to the extent the employee perceives the disparity between the inputs and the outputs), reduced effort, becoming disgruntled, or, in more extreme cases, perhaps even disruptive.”
Me, I think it’s a personal choice. Disgruntled is a point of view and if you do not see the world as being out of balance you won’t feel short-changed. But if you allow yourself to “keep score” as a teacher, looking for a pro quo every time you quid, it’s going to be a long, long school year.