It’s no secret that good teachers are an important part of creating a stable, well-educated workforce. Unfortunately, the United States could face a serious teacher shortage as early as 2020, according to a recent Huffington Post artice.
If something doesn’t give soon, the number of overcrowded classrooms will increase while the number of people willing to teach in those classrooms dwindles. Now, more than ever, we must encourage college students to consider careers in education. While there’s admittedly not much money to be made in education, there are a lot of advantages to becoming a teacher.
- It’s fun. According to an article on the Gallup Blog, teachers are the most likely of all professionals to say they “smiled or laughed a lot yesterday” and are consistently report experiencing enjoyment and happiness in their day-to-day routine. As anyone who has ever worked in a classroom will tell you, kids are often hilarious and highly entertaining. I taught for a long time and, even towards the end of my teaching career, my students were always inventing new ways to shock and surprise me.
- You’ll learn a lot. It doesn’t matter what grade you decide to teach. You’ll inevitably be surprised by how much your students have to teach you. You’ll uncover things about the subject matter that you didn’t know, but students will teach you other things too—like how to be patient and how to motivate people.
- It will help you keep your own life in perspective. Kids tend to make mountains out of molehills. An issue that would seem small to someone with experience often seems like the end of the world to a teenager.
A large part of being a teacher (especially if you end up teaching middle school) is helping your students learn to discern between a fixable problem and an actual crisis. The process often allows you to keep your own life in perspective. It’s harder to justify acting childish when you work with children every day.
- Teaching is a very respectable profession. I’m the first to admit that teachers are often underappreciated, but our society does respect the sacrifices that teachers are asked to make. According to an article by PR Newswire, citing the Harris Poll, approximately 83% of all Americans say they trust teachers. This makes teachers the second most trusted profession in America, behind doctors.
- Teachers get to be a positive influence on the next generation of young people. First Lady Michelle Obama wrote in an op-ed a few years ago discussing how “the most influential people . . . will be the people who stand up every day in front of their classroom.” According to the First Lady, “we all remember the impact a special teacher had on us—a teacher who refused to let us fall through the cracks; who pushed us and believed in us when we doubted ourselves; who sparked in us a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning.”
For many people, this is the most attractive aspect of a career in education: the opportunity to inspire and motivate people. That said, it doesn’t matter whether you want to help guide kids around the dangerous pitfalls of adolescence or you’re just looking for a way to have fun in an academic setting—teaching is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling professions a person can pursue.