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5 Things You Need to Know About America’s Public School Teachers

Educators are unparalleled in their innovation and commitment to students.


It’s a truth universally acknowledged that every teacher is different. But whether an educator is soft-spoken or boisterous, a subject-area expert or a classroom management wizard, acerbically kind or kindly acerbic, they all share a few things in common. 

Below are five things you need to know about the heroic educators that guide their students toward success every single day.

Teaching doesn’t end when the bell rings

Show us a teacher that only works during school hours. We dare ya! First, there are the formal job duties that come outside of the classroom: club leadership and team coaching, professional development seminars, lesson and activity planning, grading and report cards, and parent and administrative meetings. If that weren’t enough, most teachers admit to thinking about their students when they’re not working: mulling over how to individualize a lesson for a specific kid while grocery shopping, thinking through a parent meeting while cooking, even nodding off at night to the latest professional development book.

Every educator teaches a secret subject

Without exception, every teacher helps their students with more than the subject areas they are “officially” responsible for. For example, an elementary school teacher spends as much time helping their students navigate their first experiences as a member of a class community as they do math or reading. From taking turns (fairness) to group projects (collaboration and leadership) to transitioning from recess (body awareness and changing expectations), every interaction is an opportunity to build character and a sense of belonging. 

Above and beyond above-and-beyond

Teachers are often asked to go way above-and-beyond their job description, even opening their own wallets for their students. In fact, 94% of teachers spend money out-of-pocket on classroom materials, and teachers spend an average of $500 each year. Educators in communities of high economic need even help students procure food, hygiene items, and winter coats.

Teaching is ever-changing

Like any area of expertise, teaching is ever-changing, and teachers work to stay abreast of the latest best practices and techniques. Whether attending professional development workshops or doing a deep-dive into the latest research, teachers are always refining their practice. Says Ms. Kreiger, a teacher in upstate New York:

“High-quality professional development just makes all the difference and gives me opportunities that, in turn, become opportunities for my kids.”

Teachers never teach a class

No, really! Very few teachers actually teach a class. Instead, teachers teach every kid individually. Whether it’s assigning different problem sets based on current skill level, conferencing with individual kids during writing time, helping each student find a topic they’re passionate about for a video project, or something else entirely, the best teachers know each student for the person they are — and the person they’re becoming.

Learn more about America’s teachers by viewing their DonorsChoose projects, a unique window into tens of thousands of public school classrooms. 

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