TEACH Documentary: What Does it Take to be a Great Teacher Today?

Thanks to Participant Media for sponsoring this post and for the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of teachers in our children’s lives.

What does it take to be a great teacherWhat Does It Take to Be A Great Teacher?

Can you think of a teacher that inspired you to find a discipline that spoke to your soul, work harder, read more carefully, play well with others, or become your most authentic self?

I talked about one of these teachers the other day, and three lessons that I learned from him on how to be a GREAT teacher. With the charge to inspire children to be their best selves, teachers have one of the most rewarding professions in the world. But of course, teaching isn’t an easy profession.

Although most teachers are passionate about what they do and love their work, they’re also notoriously underpaid for the amount of work they do in relation to the importance of their job: caring for our children’s futures.

How Much are Teachers Worth to You?

There’s a huge discrepancy between how much teachers are worth versus how much they’re actually paid.

I like to think of it this way: If I were to pay a babysitter to watch my child during school hours, it would cost me about $80/day ($20/hour for four hours of Kindergarten…I live in Silicon Valley and this really is the going rate!). Now multiply that by 175 days of school (California state law) and you have $14,000. Multiply that by 22 children and you have $308,000/year. Once a child leaves Kindergarten and is in school for six hours/day, the amount rises dramatically to $462,000!!

Do teachers make anywhere near this salary? Not a chance.

What? This is a huge exaggeration.

Okay, okay, I realize that many factors aren’t taken into account here such as the cost of school resources, school overhead, administrative salaries, technology, and extracurricular activities.

The point, however, isn’t to analyze the cost of running a school but to show how much a teacher is worth to us parents, how valuable our teachers are to our communities, and how little teachers get paid in relation to what they’re worth. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the highest paid teacher, with a doctorate degree,who also happens to put in the most hours (far more than the 175 days/year) earns around $100,000/year.

The point is this: Teachers are worth a lot to us. They help our children grow into well-rounded individuals, they show our children how to mitigate social situations in our absence, and they have years of training and expertise that qualify them to help our children reach their fullest intellectual potential.

Teach Documentary

What Does It Take to Be A Great Teacher Today?

Participant Media, makers of award-winning films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Cove, and Fast Food Nation, bring us a new film THIS WEEK called TEACH.

TEACH, Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim’s third documentary film about education in America, airing on CBS on Sept 6 and Pivot on Sept 14, asks the question: What Does It Take to Be A Great Teacher Today?

It is important and timely to look at the profession of teaching in an honest and practical way because it is estimated that within the next ten years, 65% of America’s teachers will retire.

What YOU can do:

Watch the trailer, put TEACH on your calendar (September 6th at 8:00 pm ET/PT), and forward this post to anyone you think will benefit from watching this film.

Watch the trailer for TEACH here:

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  1. I think a great teacher is one who doesn’t allow kids misbehavior to make her angry but, sees beneath the bravado

    • I love that sentiment, Faigie!

  2. That’s an interesting way to view salary! Many teachers, including myself, enter the profession knowing they’ll never be fully monetarily reimbursed for their time, the extras bought to enrich their classes, and the additional time (phone calls, tutoring, teams, clubs) put in after-school. I think there are only a few other professions that hold that same low expectation for pay, which is unfortunate. It definitely adds to the stress & burn-out of motivated teachers.

    • Oh, I completely forgot to add in all the extra out-of-class time teachers invest. It’s crazy, especially given how important teachers are to our community and collective future. It’s sad, but a sure way to keep many of the good teachers away.

  3. This documentary highlights multiple programs and strategies. However, when it comes down to the final point it is the teacher/student relationship that makes the ultimate difference.

    • Hi Susan,
      This is a great point. I was just talking with a parent who loves her child’s school, but her daughter had a terrible teacher who ruined the first grade experience. The ideal is to attract people into the teaching profession who are passionate about their job, because it’s this passion that will transfer to the student’s own love for learning and enthusiasm for school.

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