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What are the pros and cons of becoming and being an elementary school teacher?

I am a rising high school senior. education teaching teacher school teacher school college

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Subject: Career question for you


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John’s Answer

Thinking about becoming a teacher Tia? Make sure you enjoy children.

Teaching is known as "a noble profession" because of the influence a teacher can have on children in general and those who will become tomorrow's leaders. But teaching may be noble because of the challenges teachers must deal with every day. Carefully consider the pros and cons of the profession, so if you do sign-up you will be well-prepared for what lies ahead.


SUMMER VACATIONS – Yes! Two months off every year. How you teachers look forward to June, counting down the last few days of the school year in anticipation! Even the keenest of teachers, most loving and dedicated, looks forward to a break. And a long, luxurious break you'll have. Kind of. Many of you will still do prep work during the summer, getting ready for the next year. Still... we don't have to officially "go to work." And that IS a pretty sweet deal, no matter how you slice it! So, summer holidays are definitely on the top ten for the best things about being a teacher.

SHORTER WORK DAYS – One of the most well known advantages of teaching is the hours. While teachers often put in a lot of extra hours at home, doing preparation and marking student work, they are only obligated to actually be "at work" for a shorter time than most office and corporate jobs. Therefore, there is more opportunity to make their hours fit around a family. This is a great bonus, and does provide great appeal, especially to those individuals who want their work hours to match their children's school hours.

WAGE AND BENEFITS – Aside from only working 9 months a year, you have to agree that teaching usually is not a bad-paying gig. It's a job that offers a living wage, in most cases. In most cases, the wage also increases for every year of experience a teacher has, up to a certain limit. That means a guaranteed raise for the first ten years or so. Most teachers receive a generous compensation package which includes vacation time and sick pay that can be taken throughout the school year. The healthcare insurance perks are usually above what workers would get in other careers, although there can be some disparity between the private, charter, and public institutions with this advantage.

CHANGING LIVES – I believe that teaching is a calling, and that calling give great purpose to one's life. It is building people, and helping them become more of what they are meant to be. I do not know of anything more fulfilling than knowing you have taught a good lesson, that was understood. Teaching is giving of yourself to others, pouring out your knowledge and wisdom, to be used up by the students. It is helping, first the mind, but also the heart. Teachers play a vital role, alongside the parent, in shaping the young people of our nation. And that has to be one of the greatest purposes there is.


SUMMER VACATIONS – You might get the opportunity to take the summer off as a teacher, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be getting a paycheck during that time. Unless you are designed as administrative staff or have your salary parceled out all 12 months, the summertime requires extensive budgeting throughout the year to make it through successfully. One unexpected emergency can have you tapping deep into your savings account or credit cards. That’s why some teachers decide to take a part-time job during the summer, to help make ends meet.

STAY AFTER SCHOOL – Teachers at every grade level put in a full eight hours in the classroom every day in some way. Even in the elementary grades when the kids are at a specialist, you’re going to be working on grading papers, updating the curriculum, or preparing for the next instructional lessons. There are after-school meetings that teachers often need to attend as part of their work day. It is not unusual to be at school an hour before the day begins and 2-3 hours after the final bell. Then you might be grading papers at home, reviewing test results, or creating the lesson plan for the next day.

MY CHILD IS PERFECT – Most parents think that they always know what is best. Dealing with parents is not always easy and you will probably run into some parents who refuse to cooperate. Some parents will even blame you for the poor performance or behavior of their child. You need to supervise and guide your students through everything. Younger students are not independent and you will have to constantly pay attention to what they are doing. As an elementary school teacher, you will have to cover all the subjects. You might have some catching up to do if there are a few subjects you are not comfortable with.

The pros and cons of being a teacher will challenge you for better and worse, but this could be said of most careers as well Tia.
ThankYou Rita. “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman John Frick
Thank You Katharine. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick
Thank You Alison. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick
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Angela D.’s Answer

You may find the website below of interest. It's searchable by topic and also includes videos. I echo Shajuana and suggest that you contact your school counselor(s). They may be able to arrange for you to volunteer at a local elementary school, engage in observations, shadow and interview some teachers, tutor, etc. One characteristic that you will definitely need as a teacher is a certain comfort level with public speaking face-to-face and online. Schooling may look very different in the future because of the pandemic, thus more teaching may be shifting online or organized into a combination of formats to limit how many students are in a classroom at any given time. You'll also want to explore which ages/grades you wish to teach. Kindergartener's are very different than 5th graders. Wishing you the best in your endeavors, Dr. B

Edutopia (George Lucas Foundation) - Began in 1991 and seeks to improve Kindergarten through 12th Grade education
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Shajuana’s Answer

I think the pros and cons of being a teacher really depends on the individual and their experience with being a teacher. As a teacher there are many positives with the jobs like having an impact on the future, making a different in others lives, having breaks to be off throughout the school year, there are many jobs in teaching, etc. The cons really depend on you as well. There may be challenges with parents or students, no feeling supported by administration, paying the supplies and material you need, etc. thankfully there are many opportunities to volunteer in elementary class through high school that can allow you to see what you may or may not like as an elementary teacher. Definitely get in contact with you school counselor to see what organizations or programs they provide for students interested in teaching. Hope this helps!
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Job’s Answer

The pros to the profession are that you get influence the lives and outcomes of a future generation. Teachers instill values, knowledge and can have a large impact on what the students go on to do with the rest of their lives. You have the opportunity to introduce the students to many aspects of life and help them learn how to study, get along with others, gain socially responsible values and expand their horizons.
There are quite a few cons. First th ejob does not pay that much. I believe teachers should be paid far more than they are, as they are responsible for motivating the next generation. Second, you will encounter children that have no family support or are from very disadvantaged backgrounds, which makes them start from a much lower educational advantage. Many parents do not start educating and or reading to their children when they are young as the parents may not be able to read and do not valve education. Additionally, many parents think it is the job of the teacher to do all the educating, but there must be education coming from the parents or the child is at a great disadvantage to start with. Third, Teachers are some of the most inspirational people many children will deal with and it is hard to motivate all of them, there will be children that are not excited or sometimes unable to learn new information. Fourth, parents give you little respect, even though you are the one that exposes their children to new ideas and teach them how to learn. Finally, the job can become depressing if one feels that they are not getting through or making a beneficial impact on the children.
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Robert’s Answer

Hi Tia and to anyone else who is interested in becoming a teacher. I myself was not one but I have known several and what they told me was they enjoyed the ability to help bring out the best of every student they taught. Of course it would depend on what grade level you are pursuing. Also depending on what state you decide to teach at it would be a benefit or burden on how you are paid. Some states give you the option to take pay over the school year or year round. Knowing that you will have a pretty accurate time off schedule will be nice. It also would depend on if you go with a public government school or with a private school for your career. Hope this helps and good luck on your choice.
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Emily’s Answer

My mother has been a teacher all my life, so I have seen many of the positives and negatives from a unique standpoint.

I think it's very easy to imagine what some positives will be, so I'll mainly focus on negatives.

1. Pay - teachers work tirelessly during the day, but depending on where you work, their salaries are extremely low compared to the importance of their job and to the effort they put in to their job. Many teachers have to pay for supplies out of pocket due to low budgeting for state and federal education departments

2. Work hours - although you do get summer vacations off, teachers often work incredibly late hours and have their own form of homework: grading papers, creating lesson plans, etc.

3. Dealing with parents - the parents of children can be even more unruly than children who are misbehaving. In many cases, the parents are difficult to communicate with, and sometimes there are occurrences of negligent or abusive parents. These are difficult situations to navigate, and will potentially take a toll on your mental and emotional health.

Those are the three largest drawbacks I've noticed based on my mothers career as a teacher. The third one is the most prominent. That being said, she loves her children and she loves teaching. It is one of the most rewarding, yet underappreciated, jobs that exist.
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Jerin’s Answer

Dear Tia,

Thanks for your question .

Pros :

1. Job Security
2. You get more paid vacation than any other job .
3. Excellent quality of life - more time with family.
4. Pension
5. Excellent pay when you take into account the holidays you get during a given year and also the pension.
6. Mental satisfaction of being able to shape up the next generation
7. Highly respected in the society
8. Fixed working hours

Cons :

1. Handling some students and parents could be difficult but I think as time passes, you will manage it very well.
2. Beginning of the academic year is usually hard, but then it get easier over time

Hope this helps !

Thanks and Regards,
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Jane’s Answer

You have received many good, thought provoking answers already. I would echo some of them. Learning all you can about the field before making your decision is a wise move.

Teaching for me was a calling. I knew nothing about what I would be earning as a salary. That wasn't important to me.

Fortunately, my high school had an extra curricular club called "The Future Teacher's Association". At that time I wasn't seriously thinking about becoming a teacher. It was just something fun to do with my friend, who was President of the club.

But, that club provided me with many valuable experiences, that in the end convinced me that teaching was something I could not only do, but enjoy. I got to tutor reading in a nearby elementary school, serve as a counselor in an outdoor school on two different occasions, learn from a school psychologist what it might be like to be an elementary school counselor, work as a volunteer in a summer program for children with severe disabilities, and attend a weeklong summer seminar on education at a University.

So, if possible, I would encourage you to seek out opportunities like this that might give you hands on experience or opportunities to observe from a teacher's point of view, what goes on in the classroom. If you like working with people and especially with children, it might be a good fit for you. Classroom discipline and management are the two most challenging aspects of teaching. It is easier for some people than others. If you were brought up with firm, consistent discipline yourself, it might not be so difficult. But, if most of your discipline growing up was self imposed, it may be difficult since you've no imprinting or role models to follow.

Jane recommends the following next steps:

See what your high school counselor can tell you about pro's and con's in teaching. Often they were teaching in the classroom at one time, if not concurrently with their counseling.
Check in at your local elementary school and see if they have any volunteer opportunities.
Carefully examine the teacher training program at any college or university you are considering to attend. Look for one that will give you experience in the field before student teaching.
Best wishes!
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Alison’s Answer

Hi Tia,
I started my college life convinced that I was going to be an elementary school teacher, too. Ultimately, though, I switched to secondary education for English. I was also raised by teachers. I’m happy to walk you through the process I went through in college.

Elementary Education is a popular first choice for a lot of people. Little kids are cute. The subject matter is generally manageable, so even if you’re not, for example, a math expert, you can still brush up easily enough to confidently teach the material. Your day also varies a lot; since you’re teaching all the core subjects, you have a lot of flexibility in how you build those blocks into your day and week. Grading is quicker since elementary assignments don’t tend to be as long or complex as, say, an AP history paper. Younger students are pretty fascinating to work with, too. You can see them moving through different stages of development so clearly during the school year, and that means that in addition to teaching the core subjects, you’ve also got the opportunity to work with them in social skills, see them developing opinions and ethics, and even help with physical coordination (especially for the really young ones - think holding a pencil). This also means that sometimes you’ll enjoy seeing them learn in really exciting, concrete ways. It is spectacular when a kid who has been struggling to sound out a word finally gets it, and it’s all laid out right in front of you, daily.

For me, while all of the above was true enough, I found that there were other versions of classes that I liked more. I realized that I enjoyed being able to have a more thorough and deep conversation with a kid, instead of spending more time doing things like cleaning sticky fingers. I liked being able to plan a more limited focus of lessons instead of having to fit every subject into a day. And, as much as I was fine with teaching all the subjects, I really wasn’t enjoying the math/science side of things. I wanted to focus more on the English/social studies aspects that I liked more. A lot of people just don’t realize how much classroom management goes into teaching, either. Those kiddos, while wonderful, are not just going to sit quietly at their desks. That’s how they’re built, and you’ll need to incorporate that energy into how to lead them to learn. As I did make the switch to working with middle and high schoolers, I saw that those moments of “wow, they just learned that! I did that!” are not as concrete or frequent, but definitely still there. For me, they were even more gratifying since they were often long fought for.

Being raised by teachers (and teaching a while myself, now) gave me a good understanding of “backstage”, too. These are the kinds of things that are going to happen, no matter what grade you’re in. There will be pain-in-the-butt parents that complain and blame you for everything, and there will be that kid who never has a pencil or has to go to the bathroom at the precise moment you get to the really important stuff ... every. day. You will repeat yourself in class more times than you ever thought possible. There will be boring staff meetings and initiatives that the principle thinks are great but you have doubts about. There will be hours of work that you do at home: grading assignments, creating and scoring assessments, lesson planning, etc. You will not make as much money as you really should earn for the amount of work you do, and you may have to use some of that money to buy your students supplies. And, while you’re not necessarily in school during school breaks or the summer, there is still work to do. I’ve worked with a lot of teachers who are able to get part-time summer jobs, but my step-mother had to visit the home of each incoming first grader that would be in her class and do some ice breakers and assessing with them, per her school’s policy.

One of the best things you can do now and as you’re in college, is get into as many classroom situations as you can. Some schools have tutoring programs where older students tutor younger ones. Some summer camps have classes like painting, creative writing, or programming that are run similarly to school classes. Look for a summer job involving something like that with local scout troops, school summer courses, or museums near you. When you’re choosing your college, look for a teaching course that has as much in-classroom practicum time as you can get. Keep an eye out for volunteering opportunities in local schools, too. Shadowing is a good start, but the more time you can spend in a classroom setting, the easier it will be to figure out what type of classroom you really want to have.

Search out those experiences! Teaching is a vitally important profession, and we need all the passionate, dedicated people that we can get!