While many academic studies focus on the problems and challenges in public education, the BC Teachers’ Federation also wants to focus on the many joys of a career in the classroom. As part of a larger study on the work life of BC teachers, BCTF researchers have published “The satisfaction in teaching: What BC teachers say about the positive aspects of their work.”
A comprehensive survey, with returns from more than 560 teachers across the province, revealed a tremendous passion for the work of teaching, for the magical moments when students capture new concepts or master new skills, when professionals and parents work together to meet children’s needs. The data revealed that teachers find greatest job satisfaction from:
- helping students learn.
- being positive influences in children’s lives.
- collaborating with colleagues and parents.
- exercising professional autonomy.
Not surprisingly, the relationships built through the actual process of teaching and learning provide the primary source of satisfaction for teachers. Through qualitative data analysis based on standard research methodology, the following comments can be said to reflect the perspective of most respondents.
One music teacher wrote: “I love when I get to experience their ‘ah-ha’ moments. I still get tingling in my knees when they hit all the right notes with their recorders, or their voices come together in harmony.”
Another teacher said: “I love working with my students and can’t imagine doing anything else, even though it is a very challenging job. I love knowing that I have made a difference in my students’ lives and helped them view themselves as capable and successful individuals.”
Yet another said: “It is wonderful to be able to help them learn and inspire them to be curious. It is an honour when they remain in contact after the course is over and after they have graduated from high school.”
BCTF President Susan Lambert said the study demonstrates how teachers’ passion for their work is expressed in many ways. “Teachers find deep satisfaction working with students in school and also by contributing in our communities, coaching sports, directing choirs, leading study tours, taking courses, and many other aspects of our profession and vocation of teaching.”
“As this school year kicks off we’ll stay focused on the joy of learning, even as we face the many challenges in our public schools,” Lambert said.