Before you go into teaching, you hear a lot about the perks, especially from non-teachers. This often leads to letdown when you actually get started. You realize that that “great schedule” is a LIE when you spend hours grading and planning after school. You give up on “summers off” when you have to take a summer job to supplement your salary. And there’s the whole “molding young lives” deal…nobody tells you how much of that is just telling kids to hurry up at the water fountain.
I don’t want to crush anybody’s dreams, though. There are definite benefits to teaching; they just might not be the ones you expected.
1. The food.
People put donuts in the workroom. Parents bring teacher appreciation lunches. Your grade earns a pizza party for selling the most cookie dough. You take an unopened bag of contraband Skittles away from a kid right before your planning period. There’s basically a constant flow of carbs and sugar coming your way, which would be disastrous without benefit number two…
2. The built-in workouts.
They say that sitting is the new smoking, right? Terrible for your health, shortens your life span, causes an epidemic of health problems due to our increasingly sedentary American lifestyle. This makes it AWESOME that you sometimes reach 4:00 having been on your feet for literally nine hours. Bonus points for any sprinting to the bathroom and/or copier!
3. Closing the door.
In any sane profession, there’s a training period after you get your job. You spend some time working with a seasoned expert, and somebody is always looking over your shoulder to help you catch your mistakes. Not teaching! You’ve got a degree? Great! Here’s a room full of kids for you to experiment and learn on! Is this reckless, terrifying, isolating, and possibly irresponsible? Absolutely. But even if you’ve got a set curriculum you have to adhere to, the opportunity to close your classroom door and create your own kingdom has its perks.
4. Instant celebrity…in a certain circle.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be followed by the paparazzi? To have hundreds of people captivated by every facet of your personal life? Well, pull out your phone and show a picture of your new puppy and see how quickly you’re surrounded by mouth-breathing, under-deodorized fans! Also, for students in sixth grade and younger, seeing a teacher outside of school is basically akin to a Beyonce sighting.
5. Novel fodder.
If you curate your disasters well, you’ll have better stories than any of your non-teacher friends. Your buddy’s boss is crazy? Okay, but did he get stuck on the monkey bars and require two hours of coaching, a ten-foot ladder, and seven adults to get him down? A super-awkward meeting at the office? Man, that’s nuts. One time I saw a mom chase her kid through the halls of the school holding a flip flop. I win. When I decide to write my memoirs, finding material will not be a problem.
Sometimes teaching is awful, and many of its most-touted perks are too good to be true. But for a certain type of person, the actual benefits are even better than we ever expected. What unexpected benefits would you add to the list?