To Teach for Your Pocket or Your Impact?
As educators, our job is to guide our students to do better. Teaching is a unique job; it is more than simply a means to an income. From experience, I know I have a world of opportunities to touch my students’ lives, inspire change, and make a real, meaningful difference. This is why I choose to teach.
Plainly speaking, teaching isn’t the most profitable job out there. It is not the ideal career path for those whose main goal is to grow their bank accounts. But, for those who want to do something different—perhaps, more meaningful—there is a whole lot of gains you can still reap. When I teach, I empower a generation; not just to score well, but to become better people.
I remember having a student once asked me, “Patrick, why must I study?” In front of us laid math worksheets of formulas that are hardly ever used outside of school. For a brief moment, I did not quite know what to say. Is studying really only for a good grade to get into a good school then to land a good job?
I told him, “Studying is training for your mind.”
And it really isn’t just about getting the equations right for exams. Neither is it just about getting the glorious (and sometimes unreachable) ‘A’. I explained to him that we study to practise thinking fast and smart; to learn to reason and make the correct decisions when faced with problems. Then I realised, too, that I am more than just a math tutor, and the end-goal shouldn’t just be a good final grade. I was there to model the right values of perseverance and motivation; and the best result I can witness is my student’s growth into a mature and driven individual.
I don’t get bonuses for helping my students change their mindsets. But I get a sense of fulfilment that is special and important to me.
In my years of teaching, I’ve had students who told me they hated studying. I’ve also had a unique case of a student who was facing family problems while her exams were drawing close. And with all these students—I help them. I logic with those I can; I reach out to the parents of those who need it. Slowly, my job has shifted from a math and science tutor to a friend and mentor who listens, advises, and helps.
These relationships go a long way even after my students graduate. Tuition eventually halts and they move on to bigger things; but they remain thankful, as do I.
I truly believe that the rewards of teaching are its impact—the attitudinal growth you inspire in your students will power them through future tides. So you will not make a million dollars from this job—but if your heart is like mine, for building the next generation, the sense of achievement will be all the same.
- Written by Principal, Patrick Low