By Teachers, For Teachers
Do you think you know what it takes to be in the teaching profession? If you thought it’s like a glorified babysitting job, then you thought wrong. The teaching profession is more than just educating children, it takes a lot of work and patience. Here are a few things you should know before you decide to leap into the teaching profession.
You may think that because school is 6-7 hours a day, five days a week, that’s all you’ll have to work. Wrong! Teachers come into school early and stay late pretty much every day. What are they doing, you may ask? Aside from grading papers and getting lessons ready, they have meetings and conferences to attend, students to help, and papers to grade. As much as teachers want to run home to their families when the bell rings, there are so many factors that deter them from leaving. Not to mention, many teachers work on the weekends and over the summertime too. Teaching is unlike most jobs because it’s hard to separate your thoughts when you’re not in the classroom. You’re either thinking about a student or what needs to be done in your classroom. So if you thought being a teacher was easy, think again.
Respect is earned, and when it comes to earning the respect of children (especially the older ones), it’ll take a lot of time and patience. The thing about children is that in order to earn their respect, you’ll have to stay consistent. So if you’re the type of person to go back on their word, then you’ll never earn the respect of your students. You must always say what you mean and mean what you say. When you do this, then your students will be able to trust and respect you. Respect also has to start from day one. The moment you meet your students for the first time is the day that you have to start earning their respect. If you put in the work, then it will come.
One thing that your teacher training doesn’t fully prepare you for is dealing with parents. Parents can either be amazing to work with or your worst nightmare. You’ll encounter many types of parents when you’re a teacher. You have your helicopter parents who hover over their children and always need to be in the loop or who are constantly questioning your decisions or authority. Then you have the parents who aren’t involved in their child’s education at all, and it’s like pulling teeth to try to get ahold of them. Then, you have the parents who are your best ally. These parents are kind of like the bear in Goldilocks, who are just “Just right” and have the perfect balance of being involved in their child’s education.
Ultimately, it’s working with the tough parents that’s hard, but it’s not impossible. With some time and a lot of patience, you’ll learn a few teaching strategies to help you along the way.
The one thing about becoming a teacher is that your attention span will never get a break. This means that if you are the type of person whose mind always seems to wander, you will not do well as a teacher. When you’re standing in front of a classroom full of children, the last thing you can do is think about what you’re going to do after school or make for dinner. If you do let your mind wander in front of your students, then your class will end up in pandemonium. No matter what is going on in your life at the current moment, when you’re in front of the classroom, you need to always be present.
Student teaching may have taught you a thing or two, but it won’t fully prepare everyone to be a teacher. You must consider that not every student teaching experience is the same. While some teachers may have a great experience, others may not. Not to mention, you can end up teaching a different grade or even in an entirely different learning environment. If teaching is what you ultimately want to do, then you can get prepared by substituting in the school where you want to work. This way you’ll be able to see how they do things there.
These are just five of things that no one tells you about becoming a teacher. Honestly, when you become a teacher, you’ll probably be able to list at least a dozen more. While teaching isn’t the job for everybody, it is for the individuals who like to make a difference. Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life can be life-changing.
If you could go back to the first year of the teaching profession, what advice would you give your former self? Is there anything that you would want your former self to know? Please share with us in the comment section below, you could be helping a fellow teacher.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.