Pros and Cons of Teaching

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Are you thinking about becoming a teacher? The career is not for everyone. As with any profession, there are many pros and cons. The truth is that teaching is a difficult job that most people are not capable of doing effectively.

If you know that you would make a great teacher, carefully evaluate the positives and negatives to know what you are getting into. How you handle the negatives is a telling indication of how you will perform as a teacher. There are aspects of teaching that will quickly lead to burnout, stress, and resentment in people that are not right for the job.

Pros

Opportunity to Make a Difference

As a teacher, you are afforded the opportunity to influence the world's greatest resource: its youth. Teaching allows you to make a difference in the lives of young people who will shape the future. The profound impact of a teacher on their students cannot be overemphasized.

Friendly Schedule

When compared to other careers, teaching offers a fairly friendly and consistent schedule. Most schools have extended time off two or three times during the academic year and three months off during the summer. The average school is in session from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the week, leaving evenings and weekends free.

Frequent Collaboration

Teachers tend to collaborate with their students on a daily basis, but there is also a great deal of professional collaboration within the teaching profession. Working with parents, community members, and other teachers to help students can be a very rewarding aspect of the job. It takes an army to teach and most teachers have a team of people working with them to help their students reach their maximum potential.

Daily Excitement

While the weekly schedule of a teacher tends to look much the same, day-to-day life is quite the opposite and teachers are never bored. No two students are alike and no two lessons will go exactly the same way. This is challenging but keeps teachers on their toes. There are so many unpredictable variables in a classroom that make every class, day, and school year a little bit different from the last.

Opportunities for Growth

Teachers are learners too and no good teacher ever feels that they truly know everything there is to know. As a teacher, you never stop learning and should never grow too comfortable in one place. There is always room for improvement and responsive teachers grab hold of every opportunity to grow.

Lasting Relationships

Over the course of making your students your number one priority for almost 200 days a year, strong bonds are built with your learners that can last a lifetime. Teachers have the opportunity to become trusted role models to their students and help shape them into the people they will become. Good teachers encourage their students and build them up as they learn and achieve success together.

Benefit Plans

Great health insurance and decent retirement plans are well-known perks of being a teacher. Do not take this pro for granted. Having these benefits provides you with peace of mind should a health issue arise and as retirement gets closer.

High Demand For Teaching

Teachers are a necessary part of society and will always be in high demand. This is one job that isn't going anywhere. There may be a lot of competition for a single opening depending on your specialty areas and qualifications, but flexible teachers should never have much trouble finding a job.

Cons

Unappreciated

One of the most substantial cons of teaching is that teachers are undervalued and unappreciated. The belief that teachers become teachers simply because they can't do anything else is a very real and very discouraging trope that educators hear all too often. The profession is not usually taken seriously by others and those that teach might begin to feel beaten down by the many negative stigmas surrounding their profession.

Low-Paying

Teaching will never bring you wealth because teachers are grossly underpaid. For this reason, do not go into teaching for the money. Many teachers are forced to work part-time positions during the school year and/or find jobs over the summer to supplement their meager income. Many states offer first-year teacher salaries that are below their state’s poverty level, so only those that really want to be teaching should teach.

Trendy

Best practices in education change like the wind. Some trends are readily accepted while others are dismissed as pointless by most teachers. Policymakers and administrators often force teachers to change up their practice and this can be particularly frustrating. Teachers have to invest enough time into planning, instruction, and assessment without having to also learn and implement new approaches.

Standardized Testing

The emphasis on standardized testing in the United States increases each year. Teachers are judged and evaluated on the test scores of their students and these evaluations carry more and more weight in measuring a teacher's overall performance and effectiveness. You are considered a great teacher if your students score well, terrible if they fail or perform below average—no matter how students usually do.

Lack of Support

Parents and families of students determine how easy a teacher's year will be. The best parents respect your expertise and are supportive and engaged in their child’s education, but unfortunately, this is not often the norm. Many parents complain about the choices you have made, argue with you rather than support you, and are not involved in their child's academic life. All of this reflects poorly on you.

Behavioral Management

Classroom management and student discipline take up disproportionate amounts of a teacher's time and energy. Many students take advantage of their teachers and test their limits. Teachers must be careful that their methods of discipline cannot be perceived as unfair or too harsh by anyone, especially families and administrators, while also demanding the respect of their students. Those uncomfortable with discipline are not right for this job.

Political

Politics play a key role in local, state, and federal levels of education. The majority of political decisions concerning education are made with cutting costs in mind and budget slashes have huge impacts on how effectively schools run. Politicians constantly push mandates on schools and teachers without seeking input from educators themselves or considering the impact on education. Politics within schools also make a teacher's life much more difficult than it should be.

High Stress

Teaching comes with surprisingly high levels of stress. There is so much that teachers are expected to accomplish each year and curricula are often unrealistic about goals. In the end, a teacher has to figure out how to get the results they are expected to get within a system that regularly works against them while juggling more external factors than most people can handle.

Paperwork

Grading and lesson planning are both time-consuming and monotonous activities that teachers must make time for. On top of these, teachers have to complete paperwork for absences, classroom level reporting, personalized learning plans, and discipline referrals. Prep hours never give teachers enough time to get everything done.

Time Consuming

As mentioned, a teacher's work is not confined to the hours that school is in session. Many teachers arrive early, stay late, spend time working on the weekends and evenings, or some combination of these. A great deal of preparation goes into each day and the work doesn't stop when the school year ends. Summers are spent organizing and cleaning the room and/or attending professional developments.