It’s no secret that good teachers are an important part of creating a stable, well-educated workforce. Unfortunately, the United States is facing a serious teacher shortage and will lack around 200,000 qualified teachers by the year 2025, according to the Economic Policy Institute. And the coronavirus pandemic will likely make the situation even worse; USA Today reports that extended school closures and the sudden transition to online learning could derail student teachers earning their certifications and limit their experience leading classrooms.
If something doesn’t give soon, the number of overcrowded schools will increase while the number of people willing and able to teach those classes dwindles. Now more than ever, we must encourage students to consider careers in education and teaching. While there’s admittedly not much money to be made in education, there are a lot of advantages to becoming a teacher. Here are just a few!
1. It's fun
According to a past Gallup poll, teachers are the most likely of all professionals to say they “smiled or laughed a lot yesterday” and consistently report experiencing enjoyment and happiness in their day-to-day routines. 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 toward the end of my teaching career, my students were always inventing new ways to shock and surprise me.
2. 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 your students will teach you other things too, like how to be patient and how to motivate people.
3. 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 may seem 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.
4. Teaching is a respectable profession
I’m the first to admit that teachers are often underappreciated, but our society does respect the many sacrifices that teachers are asked to make. Teaching is also one of the most trusted professions; according to ratings by Forbes, high school teachers fall just behind medical doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in terms of honesty and ethics. And with the recent transition to homeschooling and online learning, many parents are realizing their children’s teachers deserve a lot more respect.
5. Teachers get to be a positive influence on the next generation of young people
Several years ago, Michelle Obama wrote an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report discussing how “the most influential people...will be the people who stand up every day in front of their classroom.” According to the former 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.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to all the amazing educators out there! Do you aspire to become like your favorite teacher? Check out our digital magazine featuring great Teaching programs and our list of great Colleges to Prepare for a Career in Education.