Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is personal satisfaction included?

I guess it wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that everybody wants to get satisfaction from what he or she does for a living. Yet so few of us actually manage to gain it.

Low salaries, classroom management problems or bad attitude are among the main issues that we all have to face most of the time. These nasty feelings of discontent and disappointment pretty often lead to burnout which we have discussed before.

Being a teacher is not easy and a wise man who compared teaching to acting had a point. Performing in front of an audience a couple of hours a day is incredibly strenuous. It requires preparation a quite a lot of thinking involved so what to do if your students simply do not care? This issue is probably very familiar to those of you who have experienced teaching teenagers – they are by far the hardest to please and deal with.

Imagine your salary is more than reasonable but the satisfaction you get is minimal. You are fed up with teaching at XYZ. What would you do?

  1. Look for a job with a lower salary but giving more satisfaction (hopefully).
  2. Continue working for the same institution. It’s all about the money these days, right?
  3. Change your profession and do something not connected with teaching. Gardening? McDonalds?

Are there any other options?


  1. I hope my days of teaching teenagers are behind me but I have been there and done that. That's the context to the little bit of morality that follows.

    One clear alternative is to look inside yourself and do something different with your teaching. Set yourself new goals as a teacher. Satisfaction comes from within inside.

  2. Welcome to L'missbossy's ELT playground Dominic!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and hope to see you here again :)

  3. Yes, tough question. Especially with teenagers, sometimes they just really don't care. This has always been a point of struggle for me as well.

    I try to focus on the positive aspects, get involved in things that interest me (like blogging, learning more, and experimenting), and moving to new countries or trying new positions. I need some challenge and if that's gone I get bored.

    The lower salary option is one I always look at wistfully. I'd love to work for an NGO or just volunteer my time away but it's not feasible with my other goals.

    Changing professions is a good choice. I must have had at least 12 different jobs in 8 different sectors by now. It keeps things interesting. It's a good option if you are really fed up.

    Love the new look by the way and Calvin and Hobbes.

  4. I'd certainly agree that teaching teenagers can be challenging. That was my experience in Spain. Every Monday I would ask 'What did you do this weekend?' and the answer would be 'I went to my village' (really the place their parents/grandparents are originally from). After Christmas or Easter, I'd try to talk about the students' holidays for at least ten minutes. My question: 'Did you do anything exciting during the holiday?' Student, shrugging 'Hmm, I went to my village...' Difficult! But it can be so rewarding if you do get them engaged and maybe even smiling!!

    As for some advice on how to deal with this particular problem, if that's the right word - engage them. I think the future of ESOL in the UK (especially with growing numbers of 16-18 year-old students) lies with CLIL - that is, teaching them other subjects (maths, science, IT, care, etc.) in English. I think this approach would even do for older students, especially if they've been studying the language for a long time.

  5. Nick, you've made a very good point here. Changing jobs and having the experience of doing somethng else than simply teaching is precious. It makes me think that there are 2 kinds of teachers - ones who have done only teaching and ones who have had other jobs.

    Mike, welcome to my blog!
    CLIL has both good and bad points. It may take over in a couple of years but is it really the future?
    Good luck with your blog! Wishing you plenty of readers :)

  6. An interesting topic and a nice summary. I also compare teaching to acting all the time- the only difference being that I've never met an actor who was on stage 5 days a week six hours a day (typical schedule in Japan)!

    Here's my much longer attempt to deal with this topic:


  7. Thanks for the comment Alex.

    I guess comparing teaching and acting deserves a totally new, longer post :)

    Will have a look at your attempt now!