5 Perks That Make Teaching Worth It

Teachers are famously underpaid, if you take into consideration the importance of what they do and the amount of education it takes to prepare them for their careers. But if you think teaching is a thankless job without any advantages, think again.

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1. Playtime Redux

How many jobs allow you to relive your favorite childhood activities? In a world filled with adult stress, allowing yourself to indulge in making paper dolls is almost unheard of. So, whether it’s building a spaceship out of Legos or creating art with crayons, feathers, and glue, teachers have the perfect cover for reconnecting with their inner child. The transcendental peace that comes from sharing quiet conversation with children as you color together is priceless. You may even find yourself wanting to color at home alone simply because it offers more healing than professional therapy. Even teachers of older students get to make volcanoes and rediscover favorite books like The Cricket in Times Square or Sounder.

2. Eyes of a Child

Children view the world with an innocence and curiosity mostly lost on adults. Teachers are reminded almost daily not to forget the simple things in life or to take anything for granted. Every time a child points to the sky and squeals over a cloud that looks like a cat or marvels at the way a carrot crunches, it forces you to appreciate the most intrinsic part of humanity. Children also unknowingly teach adults some of the most important lessons in life. Teachers are kept grounded by young people unearthing profound truths with simple questions and unfiltered observations, the kind of thinking lost to jaded adults. Who can forget the scene from the novel To Kill A Mockingbird when the little girl, Scout, renders an angry mob of grown men speechless and a little embarrassed at themselves with the innocence of her questions?

3. Vacations Booked

If you’re someone who has difficulty making time for vacation, then the predetermined vacation schedule of a teacher is definitely a bonus. There’s no question you’re going to have time with your family on all major holidays, a week during spring, and then there are those summer months. That said, much of the summer break is not actually free for teachers to lie on the beach or catch up on Netflix. There are lessons to be planned, trainings to attend, and materials to be prepared. However, there aren’t many other careers in which you get to take that much time to plan and organize yourself for the job. As Tiffany Chow writes for Roadtrip Nation, “it’s still a benefit (and necessity) of the profession that teachers dedicate their summers to self-improvement so they can better serve their students and become stronger pillars of knowledge.”

4. Never Bored

Teachers don’t sit at a computer by themselves all day long. In fact, teachers do very little sitting throughout the day. While being “on” all day and constantly moving around can be exhausting, it also means you’re not sitting and watching the clock tick. It feels great to be touching your toes in a game of Simon Says, showing your students how to do the downward dog yoga pose, and enjoying the sunshine as you move around watching them play outside. Kids need movement and exercise as much as adults. It’s just another bonus of teaching that you get to move around right alongside them. The fact that you’re always circulating also means the chance for more personal interaction.

Paul Barnwell of Education Week writes, “Some days, due to testing or being flat-out tired, I’ll spend a good chunk of my time in my $20 faux-leather chair, procured from a local Goodwill store. But most of the time, I’m buzzing around room 137 and Fern Creek’s hallways, creating opportunities for more small wins.”

5. Sharing the Love

This is the perk above all else. Nothing equals the feeling you get from a child that needs your love and the simple way they love you back unconditionally. When they’re crying or in need of an adult’s reassurance, you get to be the one who makes them feel safe and loved, answering any questions you had about the meaning and purpose of your life’s work. The love is also reciprocated right back at you with every hug, every hand-made card carefully adorned with your name, and their earnest desire to please you. Being a teacher means you are humbled every day by the resilience of children who face unimaginable challenges and their ability to love fiercely in spite of it all.

Tell Us What You Think

What makes teaching a worthwhile career? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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  2. 4 PospectiveTeach 11 Jul

    You know how I know teachers are not paid well?  Because the only people who do it are those with an unusually strong "calling"... or those who simply can't do any better.  The very simple fact that the profession doesn't competitively draw talent is per se proof that it's underpaid.  It's not like were talking about shoveling shit here.  I don't think anyone would argue about the inherent value of teaching to society.  So, in purely economic terms, the run FROM the profession means that it's not paying enough. I am looking into teaching as a switch from my present more lucrative profession (I'd actually like to do both)...but I gotta say that the bullshit per dollar ratio is making me rethink the idea.  I'm a simple guy, get the bullshit per dollar ratio right and I'm in... especially for something I'd inherently love to do.  

  3. 3 Ray 07 May

    With regards to or about "teachers", from preschool to university... I do not care what anyone has to say about them, period! The fact of the matter is - is that they make anywhere from 40 - 50 thou in an elementary to high school, and from 50 - 70 thou in high school to a college level. Even those that are in a college level - they (some of them) only get part time hours, no benefits and still make upwards of 28 - 35 an hour!!! Tell me that is a bad job!!! Now, look at it this way; as a salesman... selling cars, or POS systems, or even real estate okay. Check the REAL numbers in your own local real estate market how many realtors there are, plus the ACTUAL amount of them actually carrying out business in a full time manner and their overall wages or salary... the numbers are shocking! The only people in the real estate business that are in a win-win situation are usually the owners (Brokers) of that franchise. A typical real estate agent works for less than minimum wage. Its no wonder why half of them do not work full time in the real estate market. A lot of them maintain their licenses just so when they think markets are better, they can hop on the band wagon again! Teachers have a set structure for their pay, their pay scales, they have a source of knowing that they WILL bring home the bacon each and every pay period - whereas sales people like car salesmen, people who sell and market POS (Point of Sale) systems who are totally paid base on commision literally work for peanuts, unless you land a one of a kind sale or contract. Think about why people are paid solely based on commission... because ultimately, the job just does not pay! Now back to the teachers... who now says the teachers are UNDER PAID??? Teachers have retirement plans...worth BILLIONS, yes BILLIONS! 


    If anyone wants to pout about " well teachers teach everything to everyone, well financiers keep our money safe (usually), ambulances save lives, tow truck operators rescue us and our vehicles, cashiers help transact in a timely fashion, and people like me, (structural steel fabricators) or (ironworkers) put roofs and buildings up over peoples heads taking huge risk factors, both short term and in long term sequences. Now how about those teachers... personally, I do not think l that they are worth more than a typical baby sitter charge pro rated in accordance to that in which quantity is justified until they get up to the point where the student starts to take direction in which way they want to head in life. Then those that teach at that point should be paid in accordance to the exact particular for what they teach. Example: A teacher that teaches welding... should only make what a welder would typically make...a teacher that teaches accounting should only make what a typical accountant would make and so on. Teachers that make a hundred grand a year, plus benefits is beyond a RIP (Robbery in Progress) and should be annihilated from the workforce at once! 

    People (teachers) and the general public, do not realise that they (teachers) have it made for them what they have and get in the form of pay. A huge amount of people work for minimum wages just to help put food on the table. Teachers and generally speaking - anyone in an environment where there are UNIONS - are usually over paid considering their comparisons in a non union situation do the exact same and earn significantly less and generate same results! 

    Anyways, these results are base out of Canada, and I look forward to any comments on this site. Thanks, and have a great day.

    P.s., why should teachers be allowed to collect unemployment insurance during the months that they are off work? Why not pro rate their pay in accordance to make up a balancing act to incorporate their time off as paid to be paid in 26 or 52 equal weekly or every two weeks... and take them off the welfare system once and for all! Scoundrels, I tell you..... 

  4. 2 Former Teacher 19 Apr

    As a former science teacher, I want to share a critical thinking moment with anyone else who reads the Cavewoman's comment.  What hours does she use in her calculations...hours with students?  Based on her conclusions, that is quite possible.  I'd have loved that hourly rate, especially if it were applied to the real hours teachers put in!  If 'hours with students' were used, and they often are when people think they know what teachers do-but don't, the trouble with that rate is it's not accurate...If she were to include prep, marking, reporting, meeting with other teachers to work for student welfare, meeting with parents to include them in the process of their child's education, and the extra-curricular efforts...the hourly rate falls dramatically.  Dramatically. [Repeated for effect, because I also taught English]. 

    Do people think TV news anchors are only paid for the hour we see them on TV?  Lawyers for the hours in front of a judge?  Just because people have been students, doesn't mean they know what teachers do... That's magical thinking, leftover from childhood.  Where do the lessons come from? How do reports get written? How long do parent conferences take? Do phone calls home take time?

    When we de-value the work of teachers and minimize their contributions to society (via educating the next generations), over time, the quality of the job falls; and often, the best are no longer able to see teaching as a viable career...When the opposite happens, and teachers are valued as professionals, the quality of education rises, and students are better off for it.

  5. 1 CaveWoman 14 Apr
    It is so ironic that people are so uneducated about the state of education in this country, especially about teacher pay.  Most people I talk to (and who write articles) state that teachers are underpaid, but then you ask them, "Oh, really, well how much do they make?"  They stammer and then finely admit that they have no clue.  When I inform them that the average teacher makes over $45,000 and help them (sometimes painstakingly) do the math on the per hour rate they are baffled and quickly agree that they are not making too little, indeed.  Then I remind them that they make very close to the average teacher salary in their first year out of college ($35,672 to be exact), as opposed to climbing a corporate latter for years before making decent pay.  We must also admit that, no, they do not have to have extensive education and instead just have to have a Bachelor's degree and pass a few tests.  Stop comparing these people to doctors and lawyers who have to spend 8+ years in school and complete thousands of hours of internships and build themselves in their field.  The fact of the matter is that the average teacher makes more per hour than those who have a comparable education, but work in the computer field, or are managers, accountants, and paralegals.  They make more per hour than the average worker in the US.  The fact of the matter is that manners have, for the most part, kept many of our salaries private- as they should be.  This secrecy, however, has allowed some people, in this case teachers who pull at our heart (and purse strings, considering it is with state tax dollars that most teachers are paid), to lament their paychecks and workloads without really revealing just how many zeros it may have.  Most teachers, given the type of linear career path they are on, have never done anything but teach.  They are woefully unaware at what it is like to be shot at for less per hour than they make (police and military).  They would lament even more making $12 per hour to be screamed at all day as a customer service representative.  They would be old and gray before they were able to pay off 9 years of student loans in order to work as a psychologist but make 9% less per hour.  Are teachers paid too much?  Probably not- the market has decided that they should make 11% more than the average professional employee (do your research on these statistics, don't be a leach- it's google, not rocket science) and the market is usually right.  It is probably equally correct that teachers are not underpaid, however, and it is probably a good thing that we have more teachers who have done their homework on this subject and not those people who have decided to be low-information consumers.  If you are too unmotivated or unintelligent to find out for yourself how much teachers make then perhaps you should not be passing this dimwitted and lazy values along to the next generation.


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