As with any job, teaching has its joys and sorrows.... Picture the third grader whose smile beams once he finally grasps the concept of long division, as well as the teenage girl sulking in the back of the classroom. And, as with any job, different people enjoy different aspects of the job. That said, there are some definite advantages and disadvantages of the profession that most teachers would agree on.
A Clear and Important Mission
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The National Education Association (NEA) proclaims that teaching is "fundamental to the nation." Educating future generations of doctors, builders, legislators, and just plain informed citizens is one of the key responsibilities of being a teacher. Consequently, this responsibility offers one of the key advantages of teaching as well: Teachers have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of individuals and in the character of the country. The NEA goes on to state that "public education is the gateway to opportunity." With such important and critical tasks, teachers are justly proud of their accomplishments.
Autonomous Working Environment
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A teacher's classroom is his or her own kingdom. There are state and federally mandated curriculum goals, of course, but the methods and strategies that teachers use to achieve those goals can be products of their own creativity and initiative. Within the confines of the classroom, teachers and students build relationships and a learning environment of their own. Because teaching and learning are very personal efforts, the classroom becomes a home-away-from--home to a greater extent than with many other professional environments.
Summers to Refresh and Recharge
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Many teachers relish their summer vacations as much as their students do. Some teachers with families have actually chosen the profession in order to devote the summer to creating strong family bonds. Many teachers also use the summer preparing for next year's classes in a more leisurely way than they can during the school year.
The national average for starting teachers in 2009 was £23,400. Of course this varies in different areas of the country, but by and large, many teachers feel underpaid for the work they do. In fact, the NEA reported that a poll taken in 2009 found that most Americans favour an increase in the salary for teachers.
Difficult Working Conditions
In some schools, teachers face the challenge of students with behavioural and learning problems or school facilities that interfere with teaching. An NEA official, Dennis Van Roekel, said in a 2009 statement to the U.S. House of Representatives, some schools are "chronically underfunded, understaffed, and unsupported." The lack of resources and the difficulties that students and families face in dealing with poverty impact teachers directly by making the task of teaching very difficult.