Teaching is often viewed as a low-paying, high-stress job, which in reality it is. Teachers live a difficult life and are not often repaid monetarily for the extra miles they go. It is for precisely this reason that I think experiencing life as a teacher is beneficial because through it, you can learn important lessons and skills that become good foundations in your professional career.
Here are 7 CAREER LESSONS AND SKILLS that you learn when you become a teacher.
1. TEACHING MAKES YOU A MANAGER
Not everyone gets the privilege of being an entry-level manager. Most top students enter management trainee (MT) programs but even that is still a progressive turnover of responsibilities. Being a teacher, you are immediately expected to manage a class that could range anywhere from 15 to 40 students. That may not seem like too much but try to remember what your class was like when you were in school.
A teacher must not only get everyone onto the same page, he/she is must also be a strong leader and good example to the class. Not to mention, teachers also have to work hard to earn the respect of their students and are, of course, expected to know the answers to a lot of questions. All these and more, can be easily paralleled to a manager’s responsibilities.
Going into the job, you’re definitely not expected to be an expert manager but the teaching experience will probably mold you into one in a faster pace.
2. TEACHING MAKES YOU A PUBLIC SPEAKER
Surveys change with time but almost any one you look up with have public speaking listed as top fear – often over death and loneliness. It is undeniable that many people would avoid having to speak in front of a crowd or group if they can. But it is also undeniable that such a skill is important in motivating people and getting a team to work together. Look at your office space and count how many people are willing to take on the task of speaking to and for the team. Truth is, good motivation involves good speaking and teaching will definitely get that skill in your belt.
Every class you teach is basically a one-hour public speaking session. Teaching, like good management, involves good communication. This means understanding what the goal is and bridging that in relevant terms to the people you’re speaking to. It’s not just about speaking in glorified words – it’s about speaking in words that mean something to your students and to your office.
3. TEACHING HELPS YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME & TASKS
In the school where I teach, learning activity sheets are always checked and approved by instructional leaders ahead of time. No one gets out of procrastinating a lesson and showing up in class scolding everyone just to cover it up. Teaching helps you to manage both your time and your tasks. As Francis Kong puts it nicely, it’s not just time management that’s important – it’s task management.
Being a teacher, you will be bombarded with tasks to the point of insanity. You have to prepare the lesson, teach the lesson, check the papers, makes assessments, assess the assessments, bond with students, help students who don’t understand, push students who have the potential, deal with hardheaded students, deal with parents, deal with school heads, deal with DepEd memos, and MORE.
It’s a lot of work and it will stay a lot of work unless you can discipline yourself to manage your time and tasks well enough to keep you sane.
4. TEACHING HELPS YOU DEAL WITH DRAMA
I don’t know about you but when I was in high school there was attitude and drama everywhere and I know that those things can definitely carry on to the workplace. The office is often filled with similar political divisions and immaturity. Dealing with them without any wisdom is going to lead to a guaranteed mess.
Teaching a class full of attitudes and drama is going to be challenging but you’ll learn valuable lessons from your mistakes and from your experienced co-workers. Teaching teenagers in the middle of a personal identity crisis could help you make better decisions when you’re managing workers going through a quarter-life or mid-life crisis. Teaching is certainly not the only way to learn how to deal with drama but it’s probably the one job that will force you into it the earliest.
5. TEACHING HELPS YOU DELAY REWARDS
One of the most important career lessons I was taught is the principle of delayed rewards because it teaches you to trust the process. Often times, many people are driven by instant incentives and bonuses when you meet a certain target or hit a certain KPI (Key Performance Indicator).
The problem with this is that you can, many times, create shortcut solutions to meet these goals temporarily without guaranteeing sustainability for the future. You force the numbers to your favor this year but set yourself up for more difficult years to come. It’s not about the war – it’s just about the battle.
Teaching is about the war. You do not want your students to just pass the quiz; you do not want them to just pass the exams; you want them to understand your subject and understanding is not about short-term success – it’s about long-term benefits.
Teaching helps you to keep in perspective that making your quizzes easier does not help your students. You’re just setting them up for failure when they reach the next year level and have no previous foundation to stand on. Teaching demands you to trust the process of doing things the right way to win the war even if it costs you to lose the battle.
6. TEACHING HELPS MAKE YOU FRUSTRATED
And with frustration comes patience. Teaching helps you realize that growth isn’t an instant formula; it’s not an overnight pill. Growth is a long process which requires much effort because getting everyone on the same page and on the same pace is a difficult thing. Your students need you for the whole year – not just for a week. Your team will need you in a similar way. Teaching helps you channel that frustration into a positive response instead of letting it affect you negatively.
Frustration also develops leadership because it is a key driver of change and improvement. You want things to be better – that’s why you’re frustrated. You probably won’t bring any system changes into the workplace after your teaching career but what you can bring is the ability to turn frustration into the energy that brings about more good than bad.
7. TEACHING MAKES YOU REALIZE THAT EVERYONE MATTERS
The philosopher John Rawls had a theory of society which I find profound and interesting. Rawls argued that a just society was a society in which, if you knew everything about it, you would be willing to enter it at any random socio-economic point. His theory makes sense because in a just society, being poor doesn’t mean that you don’t have opportunities to create a better life and being rich doesn’t mean that you’ll become the target of every vive la revolution.
In the same way, the ideal standard classroom also benefits from much of Rawls’ ideas – it’s a class wherein students with no interest and ability in the subject still learn but are not tortured to death; however, at the same time, students with great interest and potential are nourished and trained to the best of their extent. Simply put, it’s a class where everyone matters and where everyone’s interest in taken into account.
The work environment is one where a “just office” is difficult to find, create, and maintain but teaching will hopefully be an experience which encourages you to pursue a “just office” just as you strived to pursue a “just classroom” – it’s a place where everyone matters and where everyone’s best is brought out.
Teaching may not be the most fanciful thing on that resume of yours but the lessons and experiences you’ll gain from your years as an educator will surely serve as a great foundation to build your professional career on.
Interested in taking up teaching? Davao Christian High School is looking for Senior High School teachers! Senior High teachers have a provision which allows graduates of relevant degrees to teach classes without a teaching license. To enquire or apply to become a DCHS SHS Teacher, you may e-mail email@example.com or visit our recruitment page here.
Samuel Chueh gradauted Cum Laude from De La Salle University-Manila with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and Management with specialization in Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering. He worked for a year in the production industry before shifting his career to teaching, where he’s learned a great deal of professional and career principles. He is currently working as an ITS Staff and a teacher in Davao Christian High School and invites YOU (yes, you the reader) to experience the wonderful joy of teaching too.