Why Teachers Work As Hard As Millionaires - The Responses

I recently wrote an article around why teachers work as hard as millionaires.

It all began one night when I was thinking about what really motivates us, and I happened to chat to a teacher I knew. The passion that came back in their response took me aback, and I had to find out more.

I instantly started interviewing and surveying all the teachers I knew, and I very quickly had passionate feedback from teachers in Australia, the UK and the US - with findings enough to start writing...

Here were the results:


How Many Hours A Week Do You Work?


Remarkable - over 72% do more than an average work week!

How Long Have You Been A Teacher?


And guess what? Even the teachers with 30+ years experience, were still motivated to work 50-60 hours on average!

What Level Of Students Do You Teach?


A good balance of primary vs high school - little insight into pre-school and tertiary.

The Best Responses That Took Me Aback?

What Teachers Told Me About Their Motivation


I don’t get paid extra for longer hours. Some teachers leave at 3:30. I’m never one of those. I stay and put in the hard yards because we all remember that one teacher that inspired us. Who put hours into us. Who lifted us up... And I want to be that teacher for my students.

Some days it is another day another dollar but some days, the days when you see the penny drop , when a face lights up because of your words... Then, then it’s all worth those extra hours. Seeing the progression of kids from day 1 to your last day with them.... I always cry. They grow so much and you helped shape that. The things they say reflect your teaching. The people they are reflect your teaching.

I have them awake in my care generally longer than their parents. It’s a scary and inspiring thought. I have also recently taken on the dance groups at GRG. There is no extra pay and it takes up a huge amount of my time, energy and stress. But the looks on the kids faces when it’s time to go to dance, when they master a step, the thrill they get out of performing. Money doesn’t buy that. I go to work even when I’m really sick because I know the disappointed looks on their faces when it’s cancelled and it breaks my heart.

There is no greater joy for me than watching my kids perform. And I think that’s what it comes down to. They are, for that year and forever after, MY kids.

I dream about them and worry about them prob more than their parents do! I stress about every little decision I make concerning them. I love them and care for them like they are, no, because they are my own.

I guess it all really comes down to having a love for our job and knowing that we can change someone’s life for the better, or give them confidence in themselves and maybe trigger that spark that motivates them to make something of themselves in the future.

I can honestly tell you there’s nothing better when you hear a collective ‘ohhhh’ in the class when the students understand something, as they realise how it’s relevant to their schoolwork and their life.

Also, we put the time in knowing that the future generations will be making their way into the world and workforce and we want to do what we can to equip the kids with the literacy, problem-solving and life skills they’ll need to be intelligent and decent human beings who can function effectively in circumstances they’ll find themselves in throughout life.

Preparing for that in a meaningful way can’t be done through a text book so we put in the time, during school (by modelling what respect and responsibility looks like during our lessons - so more like implicit lessons) and outside of school by trying to create relevant and thought-provoking lessons and give thorough individual feedback so they know they are valued as an individual who has their own strengths an weaknesses, and hopefully that gives them enough motivation to want to try and outdo the personal goals they set for themselves.

My year 1 students’ progress, success and happiness!! .. even just the tiniest bit of progress.. It has provided me with so much fulfillment already! (it has only been 7 weeks!)

Students who came in feeling so low with tearful parents are now already experiencing success in various areas.. and their smiles of joy are what drives me!

I am new, so there is much for me to learn. I want to find activities that motivate and excite my students. I work in an urban school. Many of my students are language learners. My students have challenges beyond the learning challenges of the classroom.

Not only do I have to give them the strategies to become stronger writers and critical thinkers, I also have to motivate them to believe that they have the ability to succeed in high school and beyond.

I once saw a saying which stuck with me “teachers are in it for the outcome, not the income”. This sums up my experience of teaching so far. I believe we do work super hard (bit biased!) but there are so many roles that teachers take on... In any given day teachers are expected to be doctors, counsellors, parents, friends and educators. It is a vocation that is not just academic, but pastoral and administrative also.

One reason why teachers work so hard is because our “customers” or “clients” are young people. We deal with human lives everyday and we need to be strong and positive role models to hopefully shape them to become the best men and women they can be.

It’s not so much a job as a vocation. Personally I work all those extra hours, coming in 2 hours early, leaving 2 hours late, working from home etc because I have high expectations of myself as a teacher. I’m all these kids got for a year and I can’t let them down by being unprepared and uncertain of content etc.

Also, we need to prepare interesting and stimulating work or they will get bored and not listen to a thing, or want to participate in work. Not to quote the old phrase ‘children are the future’ but they really are and I think its our duty to prepare them as best we can for success.

It’s the small things that take up our time really, it’s the differentiated programs and modifications that we need to make that take up a lot of our time but it’s also those modifications that ensure that ALL students experience success, not just those “a” or “b” students.

It’s rewarding seeing those who struggle experience success and grow in confidence. As much as it’s about education, it’s also about developing the “whole self” of the person. Their self esteem, confidence etc. To do so, they need to experience success. Hence, the preparation to ensure the curriculum is accessible to all so they can experience this. Sorry if it’s repetitive and jumbled up. I’m so tired!

I actually woke up at 4:50am and got home at 7:00pm! Ha! The life of a teacher!!

My reasons for putting in so many hours?:

* to ensure that the kids get the most out of the opportunities i provide
* to make learning fun and meaningful requires a lot of planning, resourcing and setting up
* assessing children is easy, but using the data collected to plan the necessary learning takes a lot of time - there’s no use teaching something that has already been learnt
* there is a lot of pressure from schools to present an attractive learning environment, provide rich and meaningful learning experiences, ensure children are performing well in standardised testing, and still have a good school/life balance

I like to be organised and present great resources to students. Some subjects have more paperwork than others and the paperwork involved in assessments can be time consuming especially the first time. I think I will spend the time to do it properly but by the next time i teach that topic again the course has changed slightly and the task needs to be altered or binned!

Teaching has changed so much since I started, we need to keep up with the changes whether it be teaching methodologies or technology. 35 hours and I am part time!! Some of this time is just spent researching.

Sometimes I think I could do another job that does not have ‘take home’ work but in reality I teach because I like it and it is an important job. My concerns are that the government is trying to make teaching more corporate, cut holidays etc. I also believe childcare workers that teach and prepare programs and that have been to University should be paid the same as Primary school teachers.

For me it comes down to caring about my students academic performance and working as hard as I can to get them to achieve their potential.. It’s also because I take pride in what I do and I have a true passion and love for teaching.. So that reflects onto the hours and effort that I put into it