Is teaching your vocation or your job?

The purpose of this post is to explore the motivation that one might have for becoming a teacher. A s a college student or high school student you may have been asked to explain your plans for your future. Teachers, counselors, parents, and concerned friends will ask questions about what would you like to do after you graduate. If you are reading this blog you have answered that question by saying that you want to be a teacher. For beginning teachers it is important to clarify your reason for wanting to be an educator. Most people in this country today would remind you that you will not get rich being a teacher. However, for many young people, considering a career often has more to do with one’s interest than one’s paycheck. Many educators I have spoken to say that they felt called to become a teacher, or that education was their vocation. Vocation implies that you believe that teaching is your destiny or reason for being on this planet. Perhaps you think God wants you to be a teacher because you will be using your god-given talents. Another reason I often hear for choosing education as a career is about giving back to society or making a positive difference in the lives of others. Some young people speak frankly about the need for a stable job with good benefits and a reasonable expectation of job security. Although the starting pay for teachers in the United States is not high compared to other careers, there are variations depending on geographic locations and the economic well being of a community. There is security of income in the sense of getting paid a predictable amount every month. However there are very few situations where teachers can increase their income by working harder or longer hours. The exception to this is those teachers who also coach or sponsor extra curricular activities. In most cases the extra pay is small compared to the number of hours put in on a weekly basis.

Still others see teaching as a doorway to other positions such as managers, personel directors, counselors or administrators. In my experience new teachers who have a sense of mission or vocation are often happier and more willing to take on the difficult task of being an Effective Teacher.

During my student teaching I heard that most teachers only stay in the profession 4 5 years. I do not know if that is still true today, nor am I certain that it was true back then. I am sure that many aspiring teachers do not remain in the field of Education for very long.

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