Learning Environment

What’s It Worth Being a Teacher in Today’s Classroom?

It depends on the value.

Today’s 21st century classroom brims with a diverse student population requiring various and unique learning approaches. The role change in the classroom from teacher-driven instruction to self-directed learner has produced collaborative, communicative, and connected students. The demanding responsibilities of an educator is greater than ever due to students’ shifting needs and educational demands.

Today’s teachers are faced with the overwhelming task of molding value in what they do. Satisfaction alone is often enough reward for the job. But what determines a teacher’s value?

It depends. Take a look at how “value” fluctuates around the globe:


If salary determines your value, then grab your passport. A teacher in Luxembourg can expect to bring in a salary of about $138,000 after 15 years on the job. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Luxembourg takes the top spot in its 2015 “Education at a Glance” report. In fact, new teachers in Luxembourg start at almost $80,000 and make 30% more than any other teacher in the world. Why? The government places value on its educators. University of Luxembourg’s professor Karin Priem, explains it this way: “Traditionally, they thought of themselves, and were perceived, as the intellectual elite of the country. This tradition, of course, is still impacting (on) their salaries and status.” In comparison, teachers in the states peak at $66,000 and are 7th on the list, and Estonia is last, where teachers max out at about $17,000 a year.

Student achievement

If student achievement drives your worth, consider the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which evaluated the performance 15 year-olds from 34 countries in math, science and reading. The most recent report showed that Asian countries, such as Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong are among the top performers. Are they a smarter population? Not according to authors Amy Hsin of Queens College and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan. “Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement,” they wrote in a recent study for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). And, while the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this does not translate into better performance. They find themselves ranked 27th in math, 17th in reading and 20th in science. Last on the list? Qatar, Indonesia, and Peru.


Teachers in China were at the top of the list for garnering respect from both the public and students according to a survey released by the Varkey Gems Foundation, a group looking to improve education for underprivileged youth. The study surveyed 21 countries and found that educators in China were held in the same regard as doctors. By contrast, Israel was at the bottom where people felt they did not trust teachers to generate quality education to students. The U.S. and U.K. fell somewhere in the middle, where teachers were compared to librarians and social workers, respectively.

So, what’s it worth being a teacher? It depends on everything you value.


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