What it takes to be a teacher

Definitive Article

What it takes to be a teacher

What it takes to be a teacher


Back home in South Africa there are some stigmas that you’re only a teacher because you want four holidays a year and that you only work half days. Since being in China I realized there are different stigmas doing its rounds here. Teaching is an easy way to make money while travelling and having a fun time before you go back home and get a real job.

Yes, sure for some those are the reasons why they are teachers but perhaps they are choosing a profession and not a career.
Aren’t they one in the same thing you might ask? To figure that out you need to go back to the root of your choice.

If your choice to become a teacher was based on one of those stigmas or something similar you probably chose teaching as a profession. Something that will help you realize your dreams. Yes, of course we need money to live, pay off debts etc. but it’s when it’s the sole reason why you’re doing it when it can become a problem. This also does not mean you will not give it your all but it does influence your job satisfaction. Your motivation to go above and beyond or sometimes just to do what you signed up for can become difficult to do.

If you chose to be a teacher because you are passionate about developing others, your focus are on what you can give and not on what you can receive, that’s when you start building a career. Your motivation comes from the progress of your students and the smiles on the faces.
This is when putting in more time, spilling glue all over yourself and all the nitty gritty admin that comes along with teaching won’t get you down.

Once you’ve got this mindset you get so much more than a salary out of teaching. You then start to realize that you are on the receiving end of it all. You stick around longer as well because being a teacher, becomes who you are.

A great man once said:

“We don’t just teach English, we teach life lessons.” Mike Talbot

Teaching is about building relationships with students and even their families. Without it you won’t be able to successfully teach life lessons. Look at the examples of how teachers influenced their students’ lives:

IMG_7843[1] IMG_7844[1] IMG_7845[1] IMG_7864[1]

It doesn’t matter what your original reasons were for choosing this profession, what matters is if you realize what it takes to be a teacher.


This article is based on conversations I had with multiple teachers and managers from different training centres across China.

Leave a Reply