Most people dream of having a job that not only pays the bills, but one that is fulfilling, meaningful and worthwhile; one that allows you to make a difference in the world.
One child at a time, teachers are making a difference in society and leaving lasting legacies in the lives of their students and communities. Teachers are trusted mentors and often the closest adults (besides parents) in the lives of their students. Each day, teachers throughout the world are working to simplify the complex, help students see their potentials, save lives, and help create futures.
Below are five reasons listed by a few exemplary teachers at Southern Utah University to help you determine if becoming a teacher is the right fit.
1. Shape Lives
John Meisner genuinely believes teaching is the best way to effect change in the world. Meisner is an SUU Assistant Professor of Education who previously taught at Canyon View Middle School in Cedar City, Utah. Teachers not only watch their students grow they help them grow.
“If we can teach students how to become their best selves – to critically think and respectfully engage with others – we can shape the world from the ground up,” Meisner said.
Teachers show their students how to become independent thinkers and contributors to society. Children watch everything they do, which means a teacher’s influence on the social sphere of school effects how the student will interact with others in the future.
2. Creative Opportunities
Creativity is the key to captivating a student’s attention. A student might not remember the quadratic formula or the names of cloud formations, but they will remember when a dedicated teacher taught them to rap to the table of elements, used a television episode to teach a concept or role-played to test their knowledge. These types of activities leave a long-lasting impression on students.
“Good teachers are flexible and creative,” Meisner said. “Teaching is about knowing your students and how to best reach them with creative problem solving.”
Karen Houser is an SUU assistant professor of education. Previously, she worked as a public school teacher for 16 years, and principal at Petersen Elementary in Cedar City, Utah. Houser loves her career and says she wouldn’t change a thing about it. For her, it was rare to have a day when she didn’t laugh with her students.
“As a teacher, you get to control of how engaging and interactive the environment is for your students,” she said. “Not many jobs or careers allow you to be so creative.”
3. Collaborate with Colleagues
As a teacher, you are surrounded by peer professionals.
“It’s a wonderful experience to work cooperatively with other teachers,” said Houser. “Teachers are fun and committed to the kids.”
Linda Milianta, an SUU alumnus and retired second-grade teacher, taught at North Elementary school in Cedar City, Utah, for 32 years. Malianta poured her heart and soul into teaching and loved the support and care she received from fellow teachers.
“My colleagues were my mentors and friends,” said Milianta. “They treated me like family."
4. Make a Difference
Few careers offer as much satisfaction as being a teacher. We all have that one teacher, maybe several, who we remember for making an impact on our lives. Becoming a teacher allows you to be that person for someone else.
“It’s amazing to watch children grow and learn,” Milianta said. “Many children need a little extra love and attention, and being a teacher gives you the chance to make a difference in their lives.”
There are many children, especially in high-needs schools, who are homeless, live in poverty, have learning impairments or are going through something troubling in their personal lives. They need positive role models in their lives who educate, inspire and guide them and refuse to give up on them.
5. Market Demand
More jobs are becoming available in education each year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the need for teachers will grow between 6 and 12 percent per year between now and 2024. An estimated 500,000 teachers will need to be hired in 2018.
The rising teacher deficit has resulted in even more job availability and increased starting salaries in many school districts. There is a demonstrated demand for good teachers, and now the perfect time to enter the field.
Teaching is not for everyone. It takes commitment and a genuine concern for youth. Teaching can be physically demanding and mentally taxing. Emotionally, you will likely find yourself at times worrying for your students, and at other times celebrating their successes.
Consider this advice from Meisner: “Spend time visiting or volunteering in a kindergarten, first or second grade class,” he said. “What’s happens in those classrooms is magic. If you watch kids learn to read, think and interact and it doesn’t touch your soul, teaching may not be for you.”
As you explore the idea of becoming a teacher, remember that the field offers incredible opportunity to help shape the future and change the world, one student at a time. If this appeals to you, you’ll want to check out SUU’s education program and consider getting a degree in elementary or secondary education.