We all think we know what it's like to be a teacher. After all, we were all students at one point or another. But as a student, even now as a college or grad student, do you really know what your teacher's job is like? For example, summer "vacation" is not always what students and parents think. It's often not much of a vacation!
If you're considering teaching elementary and secondary school students, weigh these simple considerations to ensure that you're aware of the pros and cons to a career as a teacher.
- Though you won't get rich, you will receive a solid paycheck with a salary in line with other professions. Of course this benefit varies for teachers at public and private schools - and varies by state.
- Benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings, which are often hard to come by in today's job market (and also increase the economic value of your position)
- Work schedule will often match those of your children. That is, you may share days off
- Weekends, holidays, and the summer off (but remember that off from class does not necessarily mean vacation)
- Opportunity to share your passion and foster it in others
- Opportunity to make a difference
- Difficulty meeting the needs of many diverse students. Class overcrowding, students with very different needs, and often poor resources can make it very difficult to do your job.
- Often required to earn a master's degree for greatest job security - or simply to keep your job.
- Bureaucracy of red tape, guidelines, and managing the changing and often conflicting directives or principals, school boards, and parent-teacher associations
- Standardized testing and the problem of ensuring that students make the grade while helping them learn something apart from the test.
- Parents. Working with parents can be a pro and a con. Wonderful parents can make you feel like you're making a difference but overly critical parents can be a real challenge. Parents who wonder why their perfect Johnny isn't excellent - or don't believe that Joey cheated, for example, can make a teacher's day very long.
- Homework. It's not just students who have homework.
- Many teachers spend their own money on materials to use in their classes.
- Prep time. Teachers often find themselves working outside of school hours to prepare their lessons
- Likewise, many teachers spend time during their summer "vacation" prepping
- Most teachers are paid on a 10 month salary. That is, they are not paid for summers. Many schools spread out the 10 month salary over 12 months so that teachers don't forgo paychecks in summer, but don't some don't. That means that some teachers work in different jobs over the summer.