What you need to know before you become a teacher
They never told me! Having been a teacher for over 20 years it is easy to look back and see some things that no one ever mentioned about the education profession. None of my college professors in any education class, not a single teacher in the building where I student taught, why is this? My guess is that they did not want to discourage or overwhelm me. While I appreciate that, I have decided that I will break the silence and share what new or prospective teachers should be aware of when entering the profession, both positively and negatively.
1. Summers are not your own- Teachers are required to go back to school and earn continuing education credit at their own cost. Usually, summers are the only time to do this consistently. When it all boils down, you get about a month off if you’re lucky, and your pay is decreased by the cost of tuition
2. Politics run rampant- Most new teachers have NO idea the amount of back room deals and vindictive behaviors by those in authority from the building all the way to downtown. It takes a good 10 years before one starts to see how all of this plays out. Most teachers are still trying to master their curriculum and multi-delivery forms, leaving them little time to worry about such things.
3. It’s Addictive- Kids grow on you. Kids who have success stay with you for a lifetime. There is something about human interaction that touches you in ways that cannot be explained until you experience it. Just know that this is a two edged sword when leadership may put you in a position where you have to be inconvenienced, unpaid for a certain duty, or work many extra hours, it will be knowing that the kids will lose out if you don’t. Teaching is definitely a “service” occupation.
4. All kids can learn, but not all kids can learn RIGHT NOW! – You are not a failure if your kids fail. You have to understand that not only the law of averages, but also the condition of some families and the choices kids make will lead to failure at times. We don’t get “the right to refuse service” as most businesses do. We have to take each and every one of them.
5. Parents these days believe what their kids say more than what you say- It’s a cold hard fact. Again, you will not win every one of these conflicts, but on the whole, more parents are appreciative of your devotion and lack of pay, than those who are not.
6. Paperwork – Depending on the subject area you teach in, you will spend more time doing paperwork and attending meetings than you will in front of your students. With the electronic age, emails are no exception and and be a drain on your time and energy. A great rule to have it to try and “touch” something only once before it is completed.
7. Vacation?- With all the holidays, you’d think rest is not a problem. Studies show that teachers get sick most often during their vacations.
So why would anyone want to teach given these factors? Because it is the most rewarding profession you will ever pursue. Seeing former students get married, start families, become successful in their careers, and recognize that you had a hand in that process is all one needs to go back for another day, week, month or year.