It’s safe to say that the role of a teacher has evolved dramatically over time. A teacher in 2019 does not have the same job description as a teacher in say, 1960.
The use of technology has rapidly increased and new ‘trendy’ teaching methods have taken over.
It’s often publicized that there’s a widespread problem with teacher recruitment and retention in both the UK and the US so we asked some teachers of today, what their pros and cons of being a teacher are to help us understand what it’s like to be a teacher in 2019.
These were the top 5 Pros and Cons we received:
Summer vacations and holidays
Constant practice and development of new skills
Being part of a community with fellow teachers
The opportunity to further their knowledge
Workload (home/work-life balance)
Lack of support from administration
All about results and standardized testing
Professional development days and staff meetings
Let’s break these down…
Pro 1 - Job satisfaction
This came out on top for the majority of the teachers we spoke to. The reason most educators go into teaching is because they care about their students and they want to help make a difference in their lives. As a teacher, you spend so much time with your students throughout the year, you are a role model and an authoritative adult whom they can trust. There are not many people who get to say that. Often, teachers talk about the ‘Aha!’ moment, which is the moment when you are physically able to see when a student understands the subject or matter in hand after struggling for x amount of time. Your help, your patience, and your teaching skills meant that they were able to grasp the concept and boy does that feel good! When your hard work pays off, there is no better feeling.
At the end of the day, yes, teachers are there to ensure that students get those all-important marks on a test and leave school to secure an excellent job BUT, what is often forgotten is that a teacher is an important emotional stability in a child’s life and without this, all of the top test scores and future successes may not be as likely.
Pro 2 - Summer vacations and holidays
The whole summer off and a few weekly breaks throughout the year? Yes, please!
Pro 3 - Constantly practicing and developing new skills
Teaching requires many different skills. Patience is one of those all-important ones! Students require a lot of patience throughout the year from their tutors. We all learn differently and we all have different strengths and weaknesses so as a teacher, you have to be able to adapt. It can be extremely frustrating when one student understands the method and then the student next to them has no clue, but, these are all opportunities to enhance your skills, show flexibility, understanding, and patience in order to be of help to everyone. It is not always possible to reach every single student, and this will be hard to swallow but with every new day and every extra hour you are practicing those all-important skills, the chance of achieving this only increases.
Pro 4 - Being part of a community with fellow teachers
There’s no point beating around the bush, teaching is a hard profession. It is physically demanding and mentally draining but you can always count on each other to get you through the day! As educators, you can all relate to your daily struggles and there is always someone on hand to lend a sympathetic ear and offer great advice. Having a strong team of friends around you at work is a huge help and often can’t be found in other environments.
Pro 5 - The opportunity to further their knowledge
Although we associate schools, colleges, and universities as a place for students to learn, teachers are also furthering their own knowledge at the same time as expanding their students’. There are many opportunities for professional development as well as picking the brains of your colleagues and school leaders. Teachers have also commented that they learn an awful lot from their students! Sometimes the roles are reversed.
Those were our pros. Now for the cons…
Con 1 - Workload (home/work-life balance)
Teachers have recently been reporting that they feel like they spend more time marking papers, undertaking general administrative tasks and attending meetings over actually being present in the classroom and teaching.
Teachers don’t enter the profession to spend their days hunched over their desks grading. The stress of this ever-increasing workload often eats into their time at home with their partners and family. It can be very hard to manage their lengthy to-do lists to find a healthy balance.
Con 2 - Salary
It is fair to say that you won’t make it rich whilst working as a teacher. The salary is not generous considering the large workload and responsibilities that teachers have to take on. Some teachers have reported that although they are given the summer off, they are not paid during this time, forcing many to obtain a summer job to cover their bills.
Con 3 - Lack of support from administration
There are often tensions between teaching staff and administrative staff in schools. Administrators are responsible for making a lot of decisions that directly impact the work that teachers are required to do and often teachers are not able to input their ideas and voice their opinions. Understandably, this can cause a lot of frustration and disagreement between the departments. Like any employee, teachers need to feel valued and supported in their work and if their ideas are not listened to, it can be very difficult to remain positive and passionate in the role.
Con 4 - Schools are all about results and standardized testing
Teachers are facing ever-increasing pressure to ensure their students achieve high test scores. Of course, this is a priority for teaching staff, but it is not the be-all and end-all. How can teachers be expected to perform their best work, motivate their students and be an inspiration when they have this ongoing pressure and fear that they will not hit their ‘targets’?.
Con 5 - Professional development days and staff meetings
Although very important for the day to day running of the school, staff meetings are often described to be dull and one of the biggest pain points of their jobs. There are many blogs/articles and resources that have been written by various education leaders with tips on how to improve such meetings, proving in itself to be a popular topic. They should be informative, effective and quick! Teachers don’t want to be couped up in meetings all day, that’s not their passion or motivation. They are at school to do what they do best, be there for their students.
Likewise, professional development days can be a useful activity for teachers but only if they are planned correctly and are of interest. Just like students, teachers need to be given fun, interactive tasks rather than textbook style teaching methods.