After working for several years in the corporate world and as a small-business owner, Macy Pleis embarked on a new career three years ago. She became a teacher. “In [my previous] roles, there wasn’t any intrinsic motivation or anything that made me feel like I was having an impact,” she says. “I felt like teaching would help me have another reward besides a monetary reward.”
Pleis teaches career and technical education at Jacksonville Middle School in central Arkansas. She says she loves having a daily impact on the more than 100 seventh- and eighth-graders that she sees each day. Making a difference is usually high on the list of reasons why people want to become teachers. Here are some others:
Making a difference gives teachers a sense of purpose, and Pleis says her greatest reward as a teacher is “seeing students succeed.” “I have students that I see from past years,” she says. “I see them grow and get better. It’s nice to get to see the progression over time.”
Having a positive influence on the community and its future leaders inspires many to become teachers. “It’s nice to have an impact,” Pleis says. “Sometimes, you get wrapped up in the awfulness of the news, but you’ve got to remember that we have to leave a better place for the kids.”
While teaching can be demanding, schedules usually allow for blocks of time off during the school year. Most teachers have summers off and, depending on the school district, a spring break and time off around the holidays.
Teachers get to tap into their creativity just about every day. They are responsible for developing their class curricula and presenting it in a way that reaches students at all learning levels and keeps them interested and engaged. “What works for one class may not work for another,” Pleis explains. “It changes moment to moment.”
One of Pleis’ favorite parts of teaching is the collaboration and camaraderie with her fellow teachers. She says she seeks out opportunities to collaborate online with teachers all over the country about curricula and other issues.
Teachers are always needed, which means there is a certain amount of job security in the profession, especially for those willing to work in any type of environment. However, certain areas of the country, such as rural areas, may have more teaching opportunities than others.
For added benefits and support, Pleis recommends that teachers join a teachers union. Unions vary by state and school district. Now in her third year teaching, Pleis says she has hit her stride. She encourages new teachers to not get overwhelmed with the first classroom assignment and to stick with it. “Teaching is a lot of work, but [there's] a lot of reward,” she says.