Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Career Advice That Can Change The World

December 03, 2012

"Do any of you want to be a teacher someday?" I asked my twelfth grade class eagerly.

"NO!" screamed thirty-one voices in unison.

My heart plummeted.

"Teachers work constantly," declared Chris, “and the job is impossible. But also boring.”

"Plus," Michelle chimed in, "You get paid no money, and the news always says that teachers are under fire."

"Yeah, and students are mad aggy," added Tamyra, highlighting the aggravation kids cause.

"ARGH!" I wailed to myself (it may have been in less polite language than this), realizing the messages about the teaching profession young people have latched onto: a marketing disaster spewing mistruths and killing our potential colleague pool.

  When I see a college graduate take a $30,000 a year nonprofit job or a $28,000 a year hotel job because "teaching is too hard and doesn't pay," I want to bang my head against my chalkboard.

From my nine years as a public school teacher, I am clear that teaching is a WONDERFUL career, and one that many other people would similarly benefit from.

Please, readers, help share the truth with young people and potential career-changers about why becoming a teacher is an excellent choice:

Creativity and Brain Exercise: Teaching is a job for smart, innovative people. A teacher's challenge of sculpting curriculum and instruction is exhilarating. And in what other career can you constantly experiment with technology, costumes, debates, and more? When done right, a teaching career means your brain will never go flabby.

Idealism: Every day as a teacher is a contribution to the good of humanity, but not in the drudgerous, martyr-esque way society often portrays it. As a teacher, I feel proud and satisfied at a rate higher than during any other job I’ve held, yet still have energy at the end of the day to live a full life outside of school.

Collaboration: Teaching in a wisely organized school is a perfect combination of independent work and teamwork. My colleagues are brilliant, and the three meetings a week in which we craft cross-curricular projects are a highlight of my job.

Pay, Benefits, and Schedule: Compared to so many other professions, teacher pay and benefits are solid. We work a lot, but we also have more vacation time than any other career. There are also an increasing number of flexible options for work hours and hybrid roles.

Variety and Opportunities: In the teaching profession, if one school isn't a good match, there are plenty of other schools to shift to, both in this country and abroad. There are also more learning and travel grants for teachers than there are for any other profession.

Fun: As a teacher, I don't have to sit at a desk, but can leap around the class and be ridiculous. Woo hoo! A teacher never has to be bored.

For these reasons and many more, I passionately love my teaching career, and I know many others would too. Thus, when I see a college graduate take a $30,000 a year nonprofit job or a $28,000 a year hotel job because "teaching is too hard and doesn't pay," I want to bang my head against my chalkboard. It has not been my experience that “everything is getting worse for teachers.” Rather, I see this as an ideal time to join an evolving, exciting profession.

Want to transform our society for the better? Help more people from all walks of life see that teaching is a brilliant career choice!

Readers, what are YOUR thoughts? If you are a teacher, would you also recommend it as a career? If you are not a teacher, do you agree that the PR for our profession is in a slump that can and must be turned around?

 
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