Everyone who knows will tell you, teaching is hard. Even under the best of circumstances, imparting learning, successfully, onto another person is no easy feat, and many teachers labor in under-funded schools with reluctant, resource-poor students.
So why be a teacher?
I compiled my top-5 reasons below for anyone out there thinking of teaching, or merely questioning the sanity of their teacher friends.
1. Rewarding Relationships
Some of the most amazing people I have ever known, I met teaching.
A teacher-student relationship is incredibly special. Every year I get to know them, and help inspire them to reach for their dreams. In some cases I get to remind them how to dream at all. My students share their hopes and fears with me, and ask for advice. I’m honored to get to be one of the adults they trust. In return, they make me laugh, inspire me, and teach me things I would never have imagined.
Some of them I get to keep in touch with as they grow up. Others, disappear into the world, but I get to carry their humor, kindness, curiosity and grit around with me everywhere I go. Knowing them at all is truly a gift.
In addition to the kids, I’ve gotten to work with some truly awe-inspiring humans.
Fellow teachers have taught me patience, team work, kindness, empathy and SO much more. These people work long hard hours and keep their sense of humor and beautiful hearts.
If you’ve never hung out with a bunch of teachers, you’re missing out. (However, nurses are a hoot too!)
Parents, administrators and other staff members are also often amazing and show me daily that the world is full of points of light.
These relationships are precious, and an obvious perk of teaching.
2. Being Creative
Learning something is not easy. Breaking it down, looking at it from every direction, and finding four different ways to explain it to others is much more challenging. That means you have to get creative!
A quick glance through Pinterest will show you have incredibly creative teachers can be.
I learned to make websites for my classes.
I learned to edit videos for the clubs at my school.
I learned how to use the whole google suite for my students.
Everyday I find a new challenge that needs a new solution.
Sometimes, I pratice problem solving with an IEP team to come up with a cost-neutral solution to accommodate a class. How do I make this packet accessible to blind students? Well, that looks like a job for my creative thinking centers of my brain.
Truly, teaching is the necessity that is the mother of invention.
3. Making a Difference
Right now, think of your favorite teacher. We all have one, I know I do! Teachers touch so many lives.
A good teacher can teach you a skill, a great teacher can teach you to believe in yourself.
As a teacher, everyday parents put their most precious thing in my hands and trust me to make those kids better. Everyday, kids give me their time and attention (to greater and lesser extents) and they believe that I will help them to be better than they were yesterday. This is a major entrustment.
There are many ways to honor this duty.
For some students you make a difference by opening their eyes to a subject or interest they didn’t know they had. In others, you can ignite their self-esteem and help them see the value of their work. For some you give them a stable adult figure to help them feel someone has their back. You can be a model of kindness and empathy for someone. That’s how we learn those things.
No matter what you do, each day you go in you have the ability to change a life for the better, in some small way.
Don’t believe me? Here’s Seth Meyer’s paying tribute to his favorite government teacher in high school:
4. Built in Rejuvenation Time
Yes, everyone is going to point to the time off. Traditional schools feature about 12 weeks of semi-paid vacation.
What these breaks really are, for me, are a chance to begin again.
As one can tell from the above perks list, teaching takes so much out of a person.
Its easy to get burned out. The periodic breaks give you a time, a place and an excuse for self care. They give you built in pauses where you can take a breath.
Most teachers take work home with them over breaks (more on that next week) but working in the comfort of your own home is nice. Cool music, pets, and a bathroom you can use anytime you want, make all the difference when working on a challenging task.
If these breaks were not part of the schedule, I would very likely work myself to death. It’s nice to know that mandatory chill is built into the schedule.
There is so much to teach! There are so many places to teach!
Maybe you’re not feeling the older kids anymore? If you want to move to elementary, a few small additions to your certificate, you’re there.
Not feeling traditional public schools anymore? No biggie, there are public charters, private schools, online schools and Montessori schools just to name a few. You can teach adult learners, or kids with special needs. You can teach one-on-one as tutor is you’d like.
Teachers can travel by working for the military on bases around the world. They can teach English abroad.
You can change what you teach too. History feeling stale? How about teaching English, or Science? That may rekindle your enthusiasm.
There are things you need to do to become highly qualified in these new areas but, with a few colleges classes at the most, you can be on your way to a new educational adventure in no time.
It’s nice to know that there are so many new avenues to do what you love out there!
What do you think the best thing about teaching is? Tell me in the comments below!
So that’s the positives, next week I’ll cover the not-so-great parts of teaching.
Until then, happy teaching!