Why teaching is a rewarding career

Primary school teacher Nathan Crocker in his classroom

Why Nathan Crocker became a primary school teacher, and what he loves about it.

Teachers are currently in high demand in New Zealand.

Primary school teacher Nathan Crocker describes his job as “the most rewarding profession I can think of.”

Building good relationships is key

Nathan first thought seriously about becoming a teacher when he visited the geography class his dad taught at Fraser High School in Hamilton.

Watching his dad taught him about the importance of building a relationship with your learners, and today he sees how this includes engaging with their family/whānau.

Teachers learn and improve in their jobs

Teachers need to be open to change and new ideas.

“But it’s not about us teachers, it’s about doing what’s best for the children,” says Nathan.

“We take the best bits of recent educational thinking and meld them together, to make what’s best for our setting.”

Nathan was part of a group of teachers and deputy principals who went to Melbourne to learn about innovative schools. These schools encourage learners to take the lead, instead of using a teacher-driven one-to-many format.

Taking ideas from Melbourne, Nathan lets his learners plan their days by choosing learning stations that have been set up by teachers.

It’s not a case of simply doing what worked in the past, because every learner is unique, says Nathan.

Each day we reflect on what went well and why. If it’s not working, why not? What do we need to change to make it better?

Teaching can offer career progression

In 2012 Nathan moved from Island Bay School in Wellington to live in Auckland, where he took up roles with special needs students aged 18-21 and at Oaklynn Special School.

He stayed in touch with Island Bay School, and later asked if they had any job openings.

There was a job available, but it didn’t offer the leadership opportunity he was looking for.

“Long story short I took the job anyway, and a leadership role that I wanted and allowed me to advance my career eventuated.”

Thinking of becoming a teacher?

Nathan says teaching has a good work-life balance, allowing him to spend quality time with his family.

“If somebody was looking to get into teaching, I’d say that we work hard like everybody else, but honestly what we get back really, really can’t be beat.

“This job is never boring – each day is different, it’s fun and challenging in a good way.”

The Ministry of Education’s data website, Education Counts, shows that 15% of primary teachers in state and state-integrated schools are male.

“Having enough teachers is a priority,” the Ministry of Education says.

TeachNZ runs initiatives such as the employment-based initial teacher education (ITE) programme.

To become a primary school teacher, you need to study for three to four years, and complete one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Education (Teaching)
  • Bachelor of Teaching (Primary or Māori Medium)
  • Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary).

Photo: Amy Burt.

Find out more


  • Crocker, N, teacher, careers.govt.nz interview, November 2019.
  • Education Counts, ‘Teacher Workforce’, accessed November 2019, (www.educationcounts.govt.nz).
  • TeachNZ, ‘Studying to be a Teacher’, accessed November 2019, (www.teachnz.govt.nz).

Updated 6 Dec 2019