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Pros and Cons of Being a Teacher

Updated: Nov 18, 2022


Teaching is a noble and fulfilling career. Educators give of themselves so that others might reach their highest potential. A good teacher can impact, or even change the course, of a young person's life. Nevertheless, teaching can be very difficult. Startlingly, approximately 41% of new educators leave teaching within the first five years and 66% of all teachers want to quit their job. Statistics also show that there are higher than average rates of alcohol and drug abuse among educators. Given these shocking statistics, one must ask the questions, why would anyone want to be a teacher?


Anyone seeking to enter the field of education is encouraged to do so. It can be a wonderful job with many benefits and challenges. However, potential teacher candidates should have their eyes wide open and hold realistic expectations. Furthermore, it is wise to consider as many pros and cons as possible before spending tens of thousands of dollars on a degree that might never be used. To that end, this post will explore just a few of the factors to consider when contemplating a career in education. I will list the cons first and finish on a more positive note with the pros.


Cons:

  1. Teaching is a not a 9 to 5 job. Extra duties, planning, grading, parent conferences professional development, coaching and other tasks can often cause teachers to begin their workday hours before school actually begins and stay to long into the evening. As a result, work-life balance is extremely difficult to achieve. Teaching can be a 24/7, 365 day a year job.

  2. Once you are at work, it is full speed ahead. Local education agencies are not well known for building ample time for restroom breaks, lunch, or planning into the school schedule. You must get ready for the day, answer emails, phone calls, and take care of unexpected student needs all before the first bell rings. In addition, you will have parent, IEP, and ESOL meetings to attend. Finally, you will spend 6-8 hours each day conducting classroom instruction.

  3. You are also a babysitter. Like it or not, public education is compulsory for students and as such schools are required to act as parents while students are present. You are a caregiver first and an educator second regardless of your degree or level of education. Be prepared to be utilized as an interchangeable factory part filling any role necessary to keep students safe and fed.

  4. You are a classroom manager. People are messy and children and adolescents are even messier. Students often come to you hungry, tired, angry, troubled, sad, and generally unprepared to learn. It is your job to engage every student and progress them forward academically. That is quite a task. While there is great satisfaction in accomplishing this, unfortunately, you will also be blamed when students fail, regardless of their contribution to the learning process or their homelife.

  5. Teaching does not pay well. Some states are better than others with regard to teacher salaries. But, in general, you will not make a lot of money teaching. In fact, it is important to note that the cost of your education might not be worth the pay you will receive. In addition, retirement plans also vary from state to state. So, choose a state wisely.

  6. No bonuses. Neither state nor local education agencies normally make room in the budget for teacher bonuses. So, you will have to save for vacation travel or other large expenses out of your regular salary. You will need to budget wisely as well as teachers are often paid only once each month.

  7. Little upward mobility. In most states, teacher salaries increase with the number of years of experience. However, unless you become an administrator or other type of school leader, you will be a classroom teacher your entire career.

  8. Teaching is very stressful. I know, lots of jobs have stress. However, teacher stress is difficult to understand until you have experienced it. As an educator, you have earned at least a bachelor's degree. You expect to be treated as a professional. I assure you, this will not be the case. Your brain will be on overload from the time you arrive at work until you go home and maybe longer if you take work home with you. (Don't do it!) You will have to answer the phone, look at emails, manage your classroom, keep students on task, teach (Yah, that thing you thought would be your main job), break up fights, check dress code, take attendance, change attendance when a student comes in late with a note, participate in fire, severe weather, and active shooter drills, answer continuous questions, give make up work, plan lessons, grade papers, check notebooks, clean your room, hand out band aids, watch another class while your colleague across the hall goes to the bathroom, gobble your lunch, go to meetings and whatever else happens to come up in the chaotic world of public school.

Okay, that is enough negativity. You get the point. So, given all of this, you may be asking, Why do people still teach?" So, let us look at some of the benefits of teaching.


Pros:

  1. You usually have a one-year contract. As a result, you have job security for at least that school year unless you do something immoral or egregious enough to warrant termination.

  2. Retirement. Many states still have a pension as well as access to 403b plans for educators. If you can stick it out for 30 years, you are assured of at least some retirement income. I would encourage you to invest in a 403b or another safe asset as well.

  3. Sick days. Teacher usually have about twelve sick days per year in addition to holiday and normal school vacation days. If you do not use them, they accumulate and are often able to be used to retire a bit early.

  4. Breaks. Most school systems have two to three months of summer break, a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas (Holidays), and a week for Spring break. This sounds like a lot. But I assure you, you will be dead on your feet by the end of August and Thanksgiving is a long way off.

  5. Making a difference in the lives of young people. This is obviously one of the biggest if not the biggest reason to teach. You will give of yourself until you drop, and it will be worth it so long as you are not sacrificing your health and family. You will literally save lives. Your impact on humanity will last far beyond your tenure on this earth. You will have the power to make the lives of your students better everyday.

Whether you teach for one year or twenty or sometime in between, the impact that you make on a student’s life will never diminish. Teaching is exceedingly difficult but anything worth doing usually is. Just make sure you know what to expect, and the transition into this rewarding career will be more manageable. Best of luck!



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