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The Rewards of Teaching

The rewards of teaching outweigh the challenges.

Why do I teach?

I became a teacher because I believe in a better tomorrow, and I believe that young people’s lives are greatly enriched by the ability and desire to read and write well. Teachers aren’t usually paid much, but we don’t teach because we’re greedy, we teach because we’re giving. Sometimes we give so much that we feel drained and wonder if there is anything left for us. As I’ve taught over the years, I’ve discovered that there are many rewards to teaching.

The rewards of teaching include student appreciation

Student Appreciation

My favorite reward for teaching is the appreciation I get from students.

Not all students appreciate my teaching, but I don’t focus on the students who have a bad attitude about my class. I do try to help those students cultivate a better attitude towards my class so they can reap the benefits of learning, but I measure my success by the positive feedback I get from students.

I like to keep the notes they give me on occasion and put them in a binder so that I can look at them later when I feel blue. I also like to write down at the end of the day what my “teacher joy” was for the day. Knowing that I’ll need to write it down, I’m more sensitive to the compliments that students sometimes give without even knowing.

"I became a teacher because I believe in a better tomorrow."

When they say things like, “This book is so good!” I know that they’re thanking me for picking it out. I used to get irritated when students would ask “What are we doing today?” as they came in to class, but I realized that they had eager looks on their faces because they were excited about the class I designed.

Sometimes when I go over the agenda and learning objectives for the day, students will say things like, “YES!” because they’re excited by what we plan on doing. Writing down and remembering those moments is such a reward. I find I also design my class to create interest and investment from my students in order to engender that kind of reaction from them. High-interest topics can deliver the same practice of skills as less interesting topics, and it only requires me to think about what would interest my group. It’s very little effort that yields high reward.

Expressing appreciation for students elicits the same response in kind. Each day as my students leave, I tell them something quick. On a normal workday, I might say something like, “Goodbye! Thank you for working until the end of class! Thank you for asking questions!” or maybe something simple like, “Goodbye! Thank you, all!”

I tell my students as they leave for the weekend, “Goodbye! I love you all! Have a great weekend! Come back and tell me your adventures!” My students talk to me in the same kind of language that I talk to them. When I ask them how they’re doing, they ask me the same question in return. When I thank them regularly for their work, for their kindness, for their help, they do the same for me. I’m not only teaching them a valuable lesson in gratitude, they also are giving me a reward in return: the reward of gratitude and consideration.

student appreciation is a huge reward for teachers

Parent Appreciation

It’s always nice to hear anything that resembles thankfulness from students, but it’s just as welcome — if not more so — when parents express their thanks for what you do.

Students who may be difficult to teach or who may have behavioral issues sometimes have the most grateful parents. (We’ve all dealt with difficult parents who don’t appreciate our work, but let’s not focus on them.) A quick “thank you” at parent-teacher conferences should outweigh another parent’s negative remarks, and I try to focus on the thanks that I get whenever my mind is intent on replaying the negatives over and over again.

Sometimes it’s useful to write these exchanges down in a "teacher joy" journal so after a negative interaction, you can read about the positives.

Money

While it’s true that teachers are notoriously underpaid, at the end of the day, we do get money for what we do. After my spouse and I started our family, I decided to make it a priority to only use legislative funds and parent donations in the classroom and stop spending my own money on classroom supplies. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my classroom still functioned well and that students still learned and enjoyed class. The parents who get involved are excited to be a part of the classroom, and the money that I make belongs to my family, and it should! After all, I earned it, fair and square.

Each time that I find myself in an unpleasant teaching situation, I look at the clock and remind myself of what my hourly rate is. Every unpleasant moment is paid for (with money!).

teaching is a rewarding career for educators who believe in a better future for their students

Influencing Tomorrow

If you’re like me, then you chose to become a teacher because you wanted to make a difference in the rising generation. Teachers have a great influence on those who they teach. Students learn from us about reading, writing, math, science, history, and other topics, but usually, they also learn something more.

They learn about responsibility, preparedness, kindness, and social skills, among other things. These skills, along with the content we teach, will help them become better citizens of the world we live in — better than they would have been without us. Even if some students don’t quite get it, the ones who do will use what you have taught them to create good things in the future, and that is a reward not just for teachers, but for everyone.

 

What is the biggest reward you get from teaching? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

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Want more from this author? Check out her advice on increasing student engagement.

Author Bio:

Heidi Hood has been teaching for 7 years. She has a degree from Brigham Young University in secondary education, English teaching emphasis. You can find her on Twitter as @MsAdelheid.

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