Student perspective on teaching

It often feels like we are unappreciated or at least underappreciated as teachers, but what is the student perspective? What do students think is the most important traits in teachers? What do students think would entice more young people into careers in education? I surveyed 182 high school students on their opinions. Here are the results:

What is the most important trait a teacher should have?

Interestingly, current students find intelligence the least important trait in a teacher. Empathy and the ability to be engaging comprise 81.3% of responses! Students want us to get to know them and be understanding. They want social and emotional support and learning. Knowledge is important, but without the right headspace and the right classroom environment it is difficult to even get to the knowledge piece and our students know it!

How hard do students think the majority of their teachers work?

On a scale from 1-4, with 1 being not at all and 4 being extremely hard, the majority of students felt their teachers are working pretty hard. Zero percent felt their teachers weren’t putting in any effort. I find it comforting to know that our students don’t think teachers eat bonbons and gossip during our planning bells. On some level, they know that we are working diligently planning lessons, collaborating with colleagues, and collecting supplies to improve their learning experience.

What do you think would entice more high quality individuals into entering the teaching profession?

The majority of students surveyed (62%) believe that in order to recruit more young people into education we need to pay them better and give them more respect along with fewer responsibilities. I have to admit, it’s a big ask, but I agree.

A full 25% think that nothing would entice more people into becoming teachers. Getting young people to consider a career in education has been increasingly difficult. COVID and the pressures put on educators during the height of the pandemic didn’t help. On a dime, teachers had to become experts in virtual learning, mask monitors, desk cleaners, and triage nurses. Not to mention the political climate right now with debates on critical race theory, “tattle hotlines” to “tell” on teachers talking about “things they shouldn’t,” books being challenged, and the “don’t say gay” bill. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture. As a student said to me, “It takes a certain kind of person to want to jump into that dumpster fire.”

We need high quality candidates entering the field of education more than ever and the tide is going the other direction.

Are you considering a career in education? 

There is a ray of hope in this graph. Despite all the negative press, almost 11% of the students surveyed are seriously considering a career in education and another 32.1% might consider it. Perhaps if we make some positive changes around pay, respect, and responsibilities some of them might end up in a classroom near you in the near future.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those students considering a career in education, you are on your path, or you’re already an educator.

Thank you!

Thinking about becoming a teacher? Check out these articles:

Thinking about becoming a teacher

8 Reasons to become a teacher

Should I teach?

Why should I teach?

Unexpected perks of teaching

Will you mind the scrutiny that comes with teaching?

Can you live on a teacher’s salary?

Nursing vs. teaching

Can an introvert become a teacher?

Call for male educators and teachers of color

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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