What reasons are there for becoming a teacher? There are plenty, but I will tell you right now pay isn’t one of them. Become a teacher and you are forever condemning yourself to the middle class (or even lower middle class) unless you work in the summer. But teaching has its perks.
1.) Professional freedom. Teaching doesn’t have the hierarchy of business. Although a principal stands as the primary school authority, he or she isn’t exactly your boss. They can’t micromanage your classroom. In most schools YOU decide how to teach. As long as a principal isn’t inundated with complaints or referrals, you have carte blanche in the classroom. If you don’t, find another school system.
2.) Fixed time off. Planning a vacation or doctor’s appointment in normal jobs is a pain but not in teaching. You have weekends, holidays and long weekends. You still have sick days, personal days and family illness days. Other professions might have two total weeks of vacation and NO sick days. Teachers enjoy a nice perk with half the year off.
3.) Job Security. This isn’t true if you’re an art, vocational, business or physical education teacher. Standardized testing has virtually gutted these programs and only the most progressive (or wealthy) schools retain them. Outside of those positions, the country will always need elementary and secondary teachers. Renewing a license is fairly easy, so you’ll always have a job. Like doctors, lawyers and grocery bag clerks, teachers will always be needed.
4.) Medical insurance. I know what it is like to NOT have medical insurance, so I know to cherish this. Without insurance, a broken leg could bankrupt you. You live in terror of tetanus. Teachers, for the most part, pay a low price for good medical, dental, vision and life insurance for themselves and for their families. I once had to pay two hundred and fifty dollars for a month’s worth of medication. Now I pay twelve.
5.) A sense of accomplishment. Although it might sound like a Hallmark card, emotional fulfillment is a significant part of the profession. If I didn’t believe that, I really should leave the profession. Good teachers do make a difference in the lives of students. Working for a company in a cubicle might pay more, but you are doing the world little good. An information technology specialist might create code that opens Microsoft Office a millisecond faster, but a teacher influences thousands of lives. Which is an accomplishment? In the cosmic ledger teaching always puts you in the black.
6.) For good or bad, teaching is never boring. I can recall very few days when I was actually bored in class. I’ve been terrified, thrilled, furious, frustrated, depressed…but never bored. Sometimes after teaching the same concept for the fourth time that day, I might phone it in for the last class, but if the subject is something I like (Shakespeare, a good short story or a particular anecdote I love sharing) it’s never boring. I have repeated some stories a hundred times and never get tired of sharing them.