Insights from Socializing the World of Work Initiative

Published sep. 14, 2017

During several all-school meetings we asked the question, “How many of you got into teaching because it was a calling and how many of you fell into it?” About 50% of the teachers stated that it was a calling, the other 50% fell into teaching for different reasons. Among the 50% that fell into teaching, about half continued to be passionate about their career, the other half wished they had chosen another profession.

There were many great conversations that surfaced as we explored topics of career management, choice and purpose with teachers. We even heard from some who were preparing for retirement and how we’d caused them to think about new possibilities in their retirement years. Some where now even seeking career counseling.

This left us thinking – how could we help teachers align their interests to their work so they could uncover or rediscover the purpose in their work? According to the Gallup Student Poll, children are 30 times more likely to be engaged in school if the school focuses on their strengths, and they have teachers who get them excited in school.

As we know, adults are important role models for children in learning about the world of work, and in developing their own self concept. There are many key figures, including parents, teachers, elected officials, athletes and people they meet in their own communities, that play a role in shaping students’ aspirations. But teachers have the most unique opportunity to help students self-differentiate, role play, explore, dream, verbalize, and test their realities, in order to help them develop a self-concept, and figure out how they can fit into the world.

Our single most important takeaway, as we consider the importance of career development for students and the world of work, is that America’s teachers play the lead role in ensuring that America has the talent necessary to compete on the global stage.


Illustrations and artwork by Bryan M. Mathers.