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Altruism is a primary source of motivation for most teachers. Teaching has long been considered an altruistic career — and for good reason! It’s a profession where you can directly impact the lives of students in your everyday work, all the while working through difficult challenges to make that im

Mar 29, 2017

Altruism is a primary source of motivation for most teachers.


Teaching has long been considered an altruistic career — and for good reason! It’s a profession where you can directly impact the lives of students in your everyday work, all the while working through difficult challenges to make that impact.

Unsurprisingly, many teachers begin their careers because they want to make a difference in students’ lives. In May 2016, the Center for Education Policy released the report “Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices,” an account that investigated, among other topics, the reasons teachers choose and love their careers. Teachers were given a list of reasons they might enjoy their work and were asked to select up to three.

One interesting finding is that 68 percent of teachers join the profession because they want to make a difference in students’ lives, but when current teachers were asked for the reasons they enjoy teaching that number jumped to 82 percent. For many, this aspect of teaching becomes even more rewarding than they expected.

It doesn’t stop there; teachers find their jobs rewarding for a variety of reasons. Here’s the data:

  • Making a difference in students’ lives – 82 percent

  • Seeing my students succeed academically – 69 percent

  • Never a boring day – 29 percent

  • Making a difference in my school community – 26 percent

  • Making a difference in the larger community – 22 percent

  • Collaborating with other teachers and administrators – 17 percent

  • Nontraditional work schedule – 17 percent

  • Other – 12 percent


Teachers are an altruistic bunch! The joy educators get from their work stems from the impact they make on their communities and their students’ lives. As this report indicates, four of the top five reasons are altruistic in nature. The next time you’re having a rough day, remember, you’re making a huge impact on students’ lives — and that’s what it’s all about.

In this same report, “state or district policies that get in the way of teaching” was cited as the biggest challenge teachers encounter. If you can identify with this, raise your teacher voice and affect future policy.

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