Thank a teacher, be a teacher?

teacher and students in classroomLearners of all ages and life stages – from kindergarten to college and beyond – depend on the efforts of teachers to reach their goals. National Teacher Appreciation week, May 8-12 2017, is a great time to express appreciation to your teachers and, to explore the possibilities for entering this influential field.

Starting in 1984, National Parent Teachers Association has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the women and men who lend their passion and skills to educating children. In addition to teaching their academic subjects, the PTA notes that “Teachers deliver so much to students every day and make a profound difference in the long-term success of children.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were about 3.6 million elementary and secondary school teachers engaged in classroom instruction in the fall of 2015. About 85% teach in public schools. Of those public school teachers:

  • Approximately 76% were female
  • 44% were under age 40
  • 56% had a master’s or higher degree
  • They were assisted in classrooms by approximately 410,201 teacher assistants in the U.S who work full time, year-round

Teaching is a profession that has a long and rich history, and is expected to be in demand as long as there are students to teach. Circumstances vary considerably, however, depending on the school, the district, state, age group of students, and other demographics. Class size can have a major impact on classroom management for teachers; the most recent averages were 21.2 pupils for public elementary schools and 26.8 pupils for public secondary schools, although in practice, class sizes may vary from under 10 to more than 40.

More facts to consider if teaching may be on your horizon:

The schedule: upsides and downsides. While teachers do get summers and school breaks off, they almost always require more than the time allotted during the school day to complete their work. On average, teachers work more than 52 hours a week, including 30 hours on instruction and 22 hours on tasks from planning lessons and grading papers to watching bus riders or staffing after-school activities.

It’s not for everyone. The rate of people leaving the profession is higher than in many other professions. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, for example, 8 percent of all employed teachers left teaching.

That said, there are few occupations that match the potential for inspiration that teaching offers. As the writer Victor Hugo noted, the student “… who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

For career information on education related occupations, explore CareerOneStop’s brand new Occupation Profiles for: elementary and secondary teachers, teacher assistants, or education administrators. And check out the Local Training Finder for nearby programs where you can earn your teaching credential.

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