By Teachers, For Teachers
Teaching is a noble profession—as well as a demanding one—but its stresses are often left unconsidered by the masses of college students taking up its pursuits. Some students even decide to be become a teacher for all of the wrong reasons; nights and summers off or the promise of a repetitive, predictable routine year after year—both dreams that can be crushed quite quickly. If you know anyone who is considering becoming a teacher, here are 10 things to have them consider before making the jump.
1. It Takes Commitment.
Those seven-plus hours that you are at school is spent with the students. All the lesson plans, grading, and preparing for school events is done on your own time. Not to mention that the professional development courses you must attend throughout your career is done after school.
2. Parents Can be Difficult.
Unfortunately, there is not a handbook that teaches you how to deal with unruly parents. There will be times when you will encounter a parent that just doesn’t like you or the way you teach. This can be extremely stressful and exhausting, but with a little forethought it’s not impossible to learn how to manage these types of situations.
3. You Probably Won’t Get a Job in the Grade You Want.
These days, it seems like every time a prospective teacher goes to an interview, they will see dozens of people waiting to interview for the same job. Depending upon the area where you live, the retirement rate, and state budget, teaching jobs may vary. If you decide you are becoming a teacher, make sure you find out what positions are in demand in your area and be prepared to consider instructing another grade level, at least to start.
4. If You Don’t Have Patience Before Becoming a Teacher, You Will Need it.
Whether you are teaching a kindergarten class or a 10th grade glass, you need patience. Students will find every way (most of the time unintentionally) to push every button that you have in your body. If the thought of repeating yourself a million times throughout the day appalls you, then teaching is not for you.
If you are one of those people who are up with the latest in technology then you are golden. If you’re not, then chances are you will need to learn. The way students are taught is rapidly changing as technology advances—SMART boards, iPads, tablets, and computers are used in the classroom daily, and studies are showing that this is the best way to keep students engaged. If you want to become a teacher, then it’s best to make yourself a valuable member of the school system, by learning everything you can about the latest in educational technology.
6. You Must Earn Respect.
Respect is not something that all students will give you, it is something that you have to earn. If you are fair and consistent from the first time that you meet your students, then you will find that students will likely respect you as a teacher.
7. You Need to Always be Prepared.
Did you ever hear the phrase “Expect the unexpected?” When you are a teacher you need to be prepared for anything. One day a student can get sick all over you, and the next day you may be teaching during a power outage. You never know what you might encounter, so it’s essential that you are always prepared.
There is a constant debate on whether teachers are paid enough. Some say they are paid very well considering they have summers off, while others argue the opposite. One thing everyone can agree on is that there is never enough money in the budget for teaching supplies. Surveys have concluded that teachers spend as much as $1,000 out of their own pocket on essentials for their classroom. If you are considering becoming a teacher, be prepared to spend some of your hard-earned money to keep your classroom up to standard.
9. Time Management is Essential for Survival.
In order to live a somewhat stress-free life, you will have to learn to manage your time, especially if you have a family. Be prepared to come to school early or stay late to do your lesson plans. Learn to efficiently manage the time you browse the Internet for lesson ideas.
Flexibility and time management is also essential during school hours. There will be times when you may need to modify a lesson, or reteach a specific skill. There may be a fire drill during a test you planned or a school assembly — either of which may be completely (and annoyingly) unplanned. Staying organized, being flexible, and having a plan will help you survive these situations.
10. The Internet will Be Your New Best Friend.
The Internet can actually help your teaching career. Aside from lesson plans, classroom management, teaching strategies, even professional development courses, you can find teaching blogs and message boards where you can gain insight and support from fellow teachers.
Teaching is unfortunately not just having the summers off, and it is definitely not a 9-5 kind of job, but its demands add up to its rewards. Oftentimes, both your personal successes and your students’ progress will easily overshadow the sacrifices. If you are passionate, patient, and committed, it can be a career of lifetime.
What do you wish you would have known before becoming a teacher? Do you have anything that you would like to share? Feel free to comment in the section below. We would love to hear your ideas.
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 a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.