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Those Who Teach…Do Everything!

Written by Laura Washington, TE Instructional Coach

There is a quote floating around out there that some may find funny, but that I feel the need to debate whenever I hear it. It goes something like this, “Those who can’t do…teach.” To add insult to injury, the quote continues, “Those who can’t teach…teach P.E.” While many people, even P.E. teachers, are able to laugh this off as “just a joke”, it got me thinking about how teaching is viewed by those who are not, and who never have been teachers.

When I first began teaching as a TFA corps member in Houston, I would proudly announce to anyone who asked that I was a 4th grade teacher! The most common responses from people outside of the teaching world were…

  • “Oh.” (As the person made the “yikes” face)
  • “That sounds nice.”
  • “Man! It must be nice to have so many holidays and summers off!”
  • “What are you going to do after you finish teaching?”

While there was nothing technically wrong with these statements and questions, they do tend to wear a person down after they hear them OVER and OVER again. My friends who were in law school or medical school were questioned far more often than I was about what their classes were like, how hard it was to get in, and what they were going to specialize in. As these conversations were happening, I would smile and nod along with everyone while wanting to jump in and talk about how I was teaching kids to make inferences in young adult fiction. Fast forward a few years, and I now have the honor of coaching first year teachers at YES and KIPP as an instructional coach. Being in their classrooms on a daily basis continually makes me realize how much hard work and dedication it takes to be a great teacher.

When asked what I do, I still get the SAME types of responses from people outside of the education field. This got me thinking about how the teaching profession should be just as respected (if not more!) as other “highly regarded” professions. In this series of blog posts, I hope to show that those who teach…do everything!


Why Teachers are Just as (if not more) Important as Doctors!



  • Prescribe medicine
  • Wear comfy scrubs
  • Usually specialize in one area (Know a LOT about a specific content area)
  • Run tests to diagnose an illness
  • Have nurses or medical assistants to help them with filing paperwork
  • Wear gloves and masks to limit exposure to germs
  • Repair broken bones
  • Give examinations
  • Often work with a small staff of people
  • Work long hours
  • Average salary of a general practitioner: $177,330 (
  • Prescribe knowledge for a lifetime of learning
  • Wear professional dress even when working with 5 year-olds
  • Must be a “generalist” (Know a LOT about ALL content areas)
  • Give diagnostics to locate areas of weakness
  • Must file everything themselves (Or give a student the job of “paper manager” 🙂 )
  • Are exposed to runny noses, sneezes, lice, and boogers
  • Repair gaps in literacy
  • Write, deliver, and grade examinations to assess mastery
  • Work with students, parents, principals, co-teachers, receptionists, and MANY others
  • Work long hours
  • Average salary of an elementary teacher: $55,270 (

What job do you want to see compared to teaching?


10 thoughts on “Those Who Teach…Do Everything!

  1. What a great article! I think I know what job you can compare teaching to next!

    Posted by Matt | June 21, 2012, 1:10 pm
  2. Preach! lol Can you compare teachers to lawyers?

    Posted by Patricia A. Williams | June 21, 2012, 8:55 pm
  3. Lawyers, then pilots! Any other jobs?

    Posted by lwashington8 | June 22, 2012, 7:24 pm
  4. I really appreciate this article. I get the same responses when people outside of education ask about my profession. I often hear the “That sounds nice” phrase or “You must have a lot of patience.” Usually these encounters are easy to brush off, but I always wish there was a way to continue the conversation and share about how challenging and rewarding my experience has been.

    Posted by Liz Sieng | June 25, 2012, 7:02 pm
  5. Teachers, along with parents are some of the first to lay the ground work for our future doctors making our professions intregal to the fabric of healthy and happy communities. Add in all the other student career paths and life choices that teachers prepare the pavement for and our work is invaluable. Thank you Laura for illustrating this one sliver of the pie so nicely. 🙂

    Posted by Larissa Brown | June 28, 2012, 11:22 am
  6. This article resonated with me, as I know it has and will with all educators out there. I really appreciate how you are uplifting the thinking surrounding the field of education through this series, and I am happy that you are not knocking the other phenomenal professions as you compare them to teaching (teaching by example!). Thanks, Laura! Can’t wait to read the rest!!!

    Posted by Jeanne Fruge-Rodriguez | July 10, 2012, 9:14 am


  1. Pingback: Those Who Teach…Do Everything! (Election Day Special) « The Teaching Excellence Program - November 6, 2012

  2. Pingback: Those Who Teach…Do Everything! (Part 3) « The Teaching Excellence Program - November 26, 2012

  3. Pingback: Those Who Teach…Do Everything! (Part 3) – or how teachers are more important than Santa! « The Teaching Excellence Program - December 3, 2012

  4. Pingback: Those Who Teach…Do Everything! (Part 4) « The Teaching Excellence Program - February 14, 2013

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