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Why do teachers teach?

Why do teachers teach?

If you look up answers to this question you will invariably find the answer given is “I want to make a difference”. In other professions people have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the world but there are few which have such a direct impact on creating a better society. Good teachers inspire students to become something that many never thought they could be.

It’s virtually impossible to be bored or stagnant with a job as challenging as teaching. Your brain is constantly engaged in creative ways as you work to solve a multitude of daily problems that you’ve never faced before. Teachers are lifelong learners who relish the chance to grow and evolve. Working with young people is also high up on the list of reasons to be a teacher. The enthusiasm of the students keeps teachers young and they help to remind them to smile through even the most frustrating moments. A student might ask a probing question that allows you to see a topic in a completely new way, and the discussions you’ll have with your students can spark innovative thoughts. Teachers must stay on top of new technologies, trends, and historic events, ensuring you’ll always be learning something new.

Seeing excitement in children thrilled by a topic makes your day worthwhile. If you can blow a mind now and again, you will constantly be a source of interest. In fact, you are the life and soul of the party in the classroom. Seeing a class of faces hanging onto your every word makes your chest swell with pride. Granted, it isn’t always that way (especially when you’re trying to prepare for SATs or finish the course in time) but when you do get that captive audience, you know it’s going to be a lesson you’ll fondly remember. Teaching is never boring. No two days are the same after all. Teachers will say that they enjoy the “light bulb moment” their students get and also learning from those in their class. Teaching is a job with built-in variety, as you work through new units, teach new topics, and work with new children each year.

The sheer chaos of a classroom.

Noise, mess, laughter, excitement and pandemonium.

What isn’t there to love?

Watching friendships blossom between children always warms your heart.

Many teachers will also cite job security as a factor in deciding to join the profession. We will always need teachers won’t we? Once qualified you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that your job is safe… can’t you? Teaching is a highly transferable skill. If you train to become a qualified teacher, you’ll be able to work pretty much anywhere in the world. Whether it’s teaching English or a specialised subject, you can work and explore at the same time. International schools are growing in number all over the world and many are looking favourably upon teachers who have trained and qualified in England.

The table below is from a survey of nearly 1,000 teachers and shows the percentages for various reasons for becoming a teacher.

Limited career options after graduating 7.30
Avoiding having to use childcare if have or starting a family 9.60
Poor experience in my own education 13.40
Family members work in education 16.40
Having longer holidays 19.80
Great experience in my own education 29.80
To have fun 32.50
Love of my subject 36.10
Inspired by my teacher(s) at school 37.50
Variety – every day is different 56.90
Want to make a difference 74.80
Enjoy working with children and young people 80.50

Source:  ATL Get the data

It doesn’t stop when they leave school. Getting to see students ‘make it’ after they leave is a sensational feeling. Knowing that you played a small part in someone achieving or even surpassing his or her dreams is surely the ultimate in job satisfaction.

Above all it is the potential to transform lives – ask any teacher who has helped a student in any number of ways, from academic to welfare and emotional learning, they will tell you that’s why it’s the greatest profession in the world.


Mike Hodgkiss

Mike Hodgkiss has 36 years teaching experience in the secondary sector, twenty years as a deputy head in an 11-18 comprehensive school in Essex. He was a governor of a primary school for several years. He has led and coordinated training for staff in many aspects of teaching, learning and leadership not just in this country but in Europe too. He has written for EuroSchoolNet on international and citizenship projects and for ASCL's leadership magazine. He is currently editor of @Teachtalks.

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