Reflections on why I teach

Last week, during school vacation, I had the opportunity to go back to my old college and speak with students about careers in teaching.  I went to a business school, so my path to teaching was non-traditional – this would probably be the case with these students as well.  Leading up to the day, I was very excited about visiting, and it was fun to be back, to remember how pretty the campus is, and how much I enjoyed my experience there.

The students I spoke to had a lot of questions, but one I found myself thinking about on my way home was about the pay difference between my previous career and this one.  Prior to teaching, I was a mortgage underwriter.  With six years of teaching experience, I now make as much as I did when I left my previous job – in other words, it took me this long to do it.  When I told the students the number, many of the students made some very interesting faces.  In truth, many of them could make what I do now right out of college if they decided to do something else, and they know it.

I thought about their reactions, but the truth is, for me, it doesn’t matter that much to me.  Doesn’t it reflect on us as teachers that most of us do what we do, and not for the money?

Because really, there were two questions that stuck with me.  One was about the pay – the other was: would I ever want to go back to my previous career?  My answer: absolutely not.

Because I love my job.  I love that my job has a purpose that it meaningful to me.  I really enjoy my students.  And I really appreciate how my job challenges me in different ways every day.

I know there are certain kinds of people who find money a huge motivator in their careers.  And although it is odd, considering I did  go to a business school, I just am not that way.  Do I ever wish I made more money?  Sure – but not enough to leave a career that really matters to me.

Even with all the difficulties we face in our careers, I am sure most teachers would agree.

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