Autonomy- well, ok, this can vary based on school but its best when we can have control over our dominion. We get to choose our classroom culture and nurture it. I love that.
Changing the World- honestly it's amazing to see students grow while under your care. Or, sometimes, to see, finally, that they've grown under someone else's eye and now have reached the potential you know they had. We shape lives, we impact lives, we can change the direction a student is heading. Either way eventually we see our students grow up and become adults. My first group of students that I consider mine are the ones who I student taught. They are 24-26 years old. I've seen several, who I am in contact with on FB graduate with degrees, serve in the military, buy houses, and begin families. Whoa.
Breaks- I'm not going to deny that it's nice to get 10-14 days off at Christmas, A few days at Thanksgiving, a week around Easter, and then a 2-3 month vacation in summer. It is nice. But it is earned. That will be explained in the cons.
Passion- I get to teach what I love every single day. It is so great to go to my favorite class from school day in and day out and to try and get my students to feel the same way! Plenty of other jobs can offer this but I know too many people who just don't have a passion for what they do. That would suck.
Unions- at least here in Ohio we are a union state. I love being in a union.
Bathroom Breaks- most of the schools I taught at it would have been impossible to take a bathroom break other than in your planning period or lunch. The students simply couldn't be left unsupervised for longer than 30 seconds. Trust me. Disaster would strike. We as teachers literally train ourselves to hold it. FOR HOURS. You don't even want to think about when you are having gastrointestinal issues... In the corporate world you can leave your desk to pee and not think twice about it.
Vacation Days- Yes, we get tons of time off. But, we can't take time off when we want to. A friend's destination wedding in October? No go. And the breaks we do have are peak times so we often can't search for the best deals. This isn't the most major issue, but it is something to consider. One teacher friend of mine wanted to take the two days before her wedding off in November and she was allowed but only if she paid for her sub. The honeymoon would have to come much later.
Work load- This is where we earn our vacations. I typically get to work at least 30 minutes early every day (that's 2.5 extra hrs a week) then I usually stay at least an hour late every day, and sometimes much more (That's an extra 5 hrs a week). There are about 36 weeks in a school year so that means I am in the school typically at least an extra 270 hours a year which equals out to an additional 6.75 weeks of work. Just with that I've earned Christmas break, Thanksgiving, spring break, and the first couple of weeks of summer. Add into that the several hours I spend at Panera grading on Sundays and very quickly I've worked my summer to. I know that plenty of people work more than 40 hrs a week but considering that our pay is only for 9 months of work it's a bit ridiculous.
Pay-Our pay is decent (depending on where you live/work) when you consider it's for 9 months out of the year. However, as described before we do way more work than that. And, it has to stretch out for 12 months. Yes, we can and do get summer jobs however we rarely can find ones that pay as well as our education should dictate.
Evaluations- More and more our evaluations and security in our jobs is being judged by test scores. Let me be clear- I'm fine with being judged on my skills as a teacher, I just don't think one test on one day can show whether or not I am a good teacher. I don't know of any other career where the employee review process involves your boss judging 50% of your efficacy on just one day and on someone else's actions on that day.
Hopefully that dispels some of the misinformation. I LOVE my job and even as the negative list grows with changes in education, I can't imagine changing careers. And at least now, teaching college, I can go pee whenever I want.
Thanks for reading!