5 Reasons Teachers Make the Best Employees, and 2 Reasons We Might Not
1. We show up on time.
Whether we are teaching a class of 20 or a tutoring a person one-on-one, the show doesn’t start without us. We have to show up. On time. Being late or canceling last minute simply doesn’t fly. For public school teachers, I understand (I have never been one), calling in sick is such an ordeal that teachers rarely do it.
2. We have a plan.
Imagine that every day, you have to consider the learning outcomes of everyone at work, and then plan all the activities to get everyone there. Imagine preparing all those activities in advance. Knowing how long you will spend with each one. Knowing that you will have to explain each instruction clearly and check that people understood. I have made day-to-day schedules for classes four months in advance. That’s how far I think ahead, in detail.
3. We are flexible.
Technology fails. Group members fail to show up. People forget to complete work ahead of time. People ask awkward questions. Teachers deal with this all the time, and so we have contingency plans. We’ll pull out a back up activity. We’ll regroup teams. We’ll scale the difficulty of the task. We’ll respond intelligently on the spot or promise to follow up on an issue, and then we will.
4. We have perspective.
There are great days and blah days in teaching. As Kathryn writes, we have learned not to take it personally. There are so many emotional states and personal experiences overlapping in a room, that we understand our role is to show up and just do our best. We also know that no matter how great a day or a project went, we have to show up the next day with something else. Nothing, bad or good, lasts forever.
5. We appreciate humour.
A student once asked me if I was a vegetable (he meant vegetarian). Another, immediately after watching Avatar, began addressing me with, “Teacher, I see you.” An entire class of adults got in the habit of mimicking my passive-aggressive Canadian approach to giving requests: “If you’d like, you’re welcome close your laptops now.” After teaching for 10 years, I know that the funny moments in class are the ones we remember later, and they’re also the best indicators that we are working well together. Teachers look for humour and cultivate it.
2 Reasons We Might Not Be the Best Employees
1. We are used to working alone.
We prepare our lessons alone. We stand up in front of a class alone. We mark assignments alone. Most importantly, we regularly make decisions alone. Transitioning to making decisions with others, or having to standardize the way we do things with others, can be difficult.
2. We are used to being thanked on a daily basis.
Whether it’s for explaining a tricky word, staying late to look at writing, or just leading a good class, we receive genuine gratitude from the people we work with. Even if we leave class tired, we leave with a positive feeling of having made a difference, and having received acknowledgment for it. Losing that direct feedback loop can also be hard.
This post was prompted by a recent transition. On April 1st, I took the role of Provincial Organizer with Dogwood Initiative – my first serious non-teaching job ever. I’m happy to say that a lot of skills transfer and I feel confident. And don’t worry – I still have time for tutoring, if you are looking for English, Turkish, or Moroccan Arabic.