Should Companies Hire Teachers?
Updated: Apr 24
I decided to leave the classroom over Thanksgiving Break in 2021 and left at the end of that school year. Durinig that process, I found entire communities of educators on a similar path looking for better work-life balance and a wage that reflected the effort and hours they put in. Many of these educators frequently made posts about how companies should hire teachers because we can do anything.
While I know statements like these are made with the best of intentions, sweeping generalizations about how teachers are remarkable are largely irrelevant and potentially problematic.
Why? I'd invite you to think about the following questions:
Who was the worst teacher you ever had?
Who was the worst teacher you ever worked with?
If you have children, who was the worst teacher they ever had?
Have you ever had or worked with a teacher than made you feel unsafe?
Now imagine that you're a hiring manager and a resume belonging to one of those teachers finds itself on your desk. Are you going to hire them? Would you give them an interview? I'm assuming not.
Don't get me wrong, I hold the teaching profession in high regard. Most of my teachers and the overwhelming majority of my school colleagues are incredible people who would be a great asset to any organization.
But the others? Well, to borrow the words of Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph), "Sweet baby Jesus and the grown one too!" Some teachers are bullies. Some teachers are lazy. Some teachers are ignorant and others still are bigoted or perverted (you know, the one that is a little too interested in the length of that skirt). I'm certain we all have horror stories, both from our time as students and on the other side of the desk. It's as universal an experience as questionable cafeteria food.
Why do I bring this up? Obviously because I'm a twisted individual who wanted to bring repressed, possibly traumatic, memories to the forefront of your mind... but also because those recruiters and hiring managers had those teachers as well.
I'm not going to vouch for all teachers. Some teachers are $#!+.
When you post "teachers are project managers", you may be thinking of Kristi, G, Brooke, Heather, and John who organized an amazing week-long senior class trip to New York City, an unforgettable prom, and a memorable graduation ceremony every year while also spending uncountable hours helping students raise funds to take part in these events. But that hiring manager may be thinking about the teacher who, despite her noblist intentions, held a fundraiser that left the school thousands of dollars in the hole and a storage closet overflowing with "chocolate" bars.
When you say "teachers drive culture and get along well with others", you may be thinking of Jeff, who was an incredible educator universally loved by students and staff. But that recruiter may be thinking about their middle school science teacher who showed up to school on homecoming day wearing the apparel of *the other school* and wished her students bad luck in the football game that night. Or maybe they're thinking about that cruel teacher in sixth grade who told them that they smelled like trash and needed to wear deodorant... in front of their crush... in the middle of class.
So, what's my point?
Companies shouldn't hire teachers. Teachers aren't a monolith. Within the profession, there is a wide-range of skills. Some teachers make great instructional designers, others are superb project managers or will find ways to apply their skillset in fields that are completely disconnected from the teaching profession.
People who work in the classroom often have a lot to offer. But hiring someone just because they're a teacher? That's a gamble, and if we're being honest, it's one you probably wouldn't take if you were in charge of selecting a candidate.
So, spend less time talking about how teachers in general have skills that transfer into new career paths and more time talking about specific accomplishments that clearly demonstrate your value.
After all, you don't want companies to hire teachers. You want them to hire you.
Quick note (for the curious reader): Every scenario mentioned above is a true story that happened in a school where I taught. Unfortunately, the negative experiences mentioned are far from an encompassing list. While I hope these teachers leave the classroom (for the benefit of their future students), they can kick rocks.