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The rewards that come with a career in teaching are rightly celebrated, but experienced educators know there are significant downsides to being a teacher as well. Although the expectations are often high, the pay is relatively low, and working conditions can be tough. If you're thinking of becoming a teacher, weigh the benefits of "summers off" and the opportunity to shape young minds against the stresses that come with the job.
High Level of Commitment
You can remember the school bell ringing about 3 p.m., signaling that you could head home to enjoy the rest of your day. When compared with the average 9-to-5 work day, some people may assume that teachers are much better off than the rest of the workforce. However, not only do teachers need to arrive at school earlier and stay longer than their students, but they also have to spend a lot of time outside school planning lessons, grading papers and performing many other work-related tasks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers are more likely to take work home than people in any other profession.
Relatively Low Pay
When compared with the work required of a good teacher, the pay is relatively low. According to the website TeacherPortal, teachers can expect to earn less than $50,000 a year on average. Teachers also work daily unpaid hours completing mandatory tasks such as grading papers, and may even be required to attend training or conferences that are also unpaid. The paid vacations every summer make up for a good deal of this unpaid time, but the pay is still relatively low compared with other professions.
Not only must teachers take disciplinary actions toward children who are a problem in school, teachers are often compelled to take action when they feel a child is in trouble at home. There are a lot of children who have serious problems in their lives. Poverty, abuse, and many other issues that affect children can become the problems of their teachers. This can be a very sensitive and difficult process. Large class sizes have rendered many teachers incapable of keeping control over their classrooms, and this can be stressful. In the most extreme cases, teachers can be in danger from the violence that affects the community around their schools.
With U.S. schoolchildren lagging behind those of many other countries in academic achievement, teachers are under severe scrutiny. Teachers are often evaluated based on their students' test scores, even though many educators argue that tests alone do not accurately reflect academic achievement. Teachers are fired at a higher rate in under-performing schools, and many people are calling for an end to the long practice of tenure for experienced teachers.
Cameron Drake is a senior history major at Stanford University. Drake has worked as a creative designer and webmaster for various departments at Stanford University and individual clients. He provides college essay writing assistance to high school seniors pro bono and is currently writing for the Stanford Daily Editorial Board. Drake will be pursuing a master's in communication-journalism next year at Stanford.