5 Ways Teaching is Like a Big Business

5 Ways Teaching is Like a Big Business

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Did you go from a bustling corporation to a teaching gig overseas? Are you planning on going into a corporation after your adventure? Though it might not seem like it, teaching can have a lot of similarities with working for a big business.

Old Disney PostcardsHere are just some of the similarities that, as a current overseas teacher, I have noticed.

You Speak Different Languages


Have you ever been in a metrics discussion? Maybe a discussion about a piece of IT that you can’t quite grasp? Sometimes it might feel as though you are speaking another language with the people in your office.

It’s important to find a way where everyone can communicate on the subject even with language barriers— find ways to explain difficult topics using analogies, metaphors, and big pictures.


Some might be age difference and some might be the very real fact that you are, indeed, speaking an entirely different language. Like business, you can describe concepts using analogies and metaphors, but when you are speaking to children you can utilize a lot more, too.

Using charades, drawing pictures, using easier words to describe harder concepts, singing, dancing, anything! Always review and connect words with bigger picture activities, too, like in real-life situations.

You Deal with Children Sometimes


This is figurative, of course, unless you do deal with children. The real part is, however, grown-ups can have tantrums too. You might find yourself in a situation in a big business where you have a colleague who will not do their fair share of the work.

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Like teaching, you will need to find a way to deal with this. Building a rapport with your team so there is an understanding of mutual respect will work wonders– know the obstacles each other is facing and help each other.


Unless you teach adults, in which case the business example may still apply, you definitely deal with humans who are younger than you. They don’t have much motivation to do what you ask them besides earning a grade. Again, you will have to figure out a way to deal with their tantrums, tiffs, and spats.

Building a rapport and mutual understanding will work wonders here, too, but it’s even more difficult with a language barrier. Let your children know when you are proud of their work by marking a small smiley face, 100%, or sticker and they will want to achieve more.

Younger students will always want to tell you a story, lend a listening ear and they will shine!

Time Management


It’s all about completing a project before or on time and on or under budget! You need to be on point with those project management skills in order to get the work done right! That means fixing priorities straight away. What is the most important thing to get done? What can’t happen unless you have that piece finished?

Align priorities and most everything falls into place. This is not to say tragedies do not happen but as long as you have your priorities organized things can flow smoothly even if a disaster happens.


It is essential to time activities in the classroom in order to fit everything you need to do in the time allotted. Teachers always need to keep an eye on the clock to ensure they get their lesson done and the students have enough time to get their work done as well.

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Just like business, arranging priorities for the lesson will help. There can be diminishing returns on a lesson that is over-planned. Keep it simple, straightforward, and focused!

The General Direction Changes Often


Uh oh, looks like we have discouraging metrics in a certain area. Time to change the direction to fix that! Looks like we’ll have new meetings, new phone calls, and new projects to aid in the rectification of our mistake.

The direction changes on a dime in business– if something isn’t right with a client, it needs to change. Now.


Uh oh, looks like a student received a poor letter on their homework. Time to change the direction to fix that! The direction changes on a dime in the classroom as well.

Maybe a lesson isn’t going the way you want it to go, maybe a student received a poor letter, or maybe students aren’t involved in the class at all. Just like business, the classroom has to adapt to ever-changing new situations.

You Have Good Days, Bad Days, and Everything In-between


You will have days where your project finishes just in time or before, pleasant surprises like doughnuts, or maybe a coworker you didn’t get along with is nice to you.

You will have days where your project crashes and burns, someone heats up their tuna casserole in the microwave, and that coworker spits at you. Days where you are bored out of your mind happen. Sometimes it’s good luck, sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes what you put into it is what you get out of it.

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Absolutely the same– sometimes you can try really hard or sometimes you might be winging it and you come out surprised. Some days the kids are full of energy, life, and hope and others they are the worst things to walk the earth.

I will say, though, I’m never bored with what happens. There is always something that surprises me a little. The kids are full of imagination, whether they use it for good or evil. You definitely get what you put into the job in this case.

Working for a big corporation can be exciting, ever-changing, and challenging but don’t let it fool you– the teaching world can be just as full of surprises!

What are your thoughts about the similarities between business and teaching? Do you have anything that you would add? Let us know in the comments section below.

face1 (1)Michaela left her small town in the flat cornfields of Iowa in April of 2015 to explore the world before becoming condemned to a desk in an IT corporation. She has been teaching at Hess International English school in Taipei,Taiwan and shopping, hiking, and eating her way through the foreign streets. She has traveled alone and encountered many interesting experiences and hopes to aid others traveling alone as well.


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