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7 Things to Know Before Entering the Teaching Profession

Janelle Cox

The teaching profession is honorable, and while you may think that you know exactly what it entails to be a teacher, some teachers have other ideas. Student teaching may help prepare you for the teaching profession you are about to embark upon, but it doesn’t fully teach you everything – there are some things you just have to learn on your own. Here are seven things to know about the teaching profession before becoming an educator.

1. Student Teaching Does Not Fully Prepare You for the Teaching Profession

When you enter your own classroom for the very first time, you may think, “I got this” because you’ve been in a classroom for months student teaching, and maybe even substitute teaching. However, having your own classroom is not the same as teaching someone else’s classroom. While student teaching may have taught you how to write a lesson plan and some behavioral techniques, it does not teach many of the things that are listed in this article.

Also, there is a strong possibility that you can end up teaching a completely different grade as the one that you student taught, as well as a different school environment.

2. The Grade You Want You Probably Won’t Get

You have always have dreamed of being a kindergarten teacher and may have even went to college to become a teacher for only that reason. The problem is, you are not guaranteed that when you apply for a job that you will even get that grade. You need to be OK with the fact that there is a strong possibility that you will have to teach another grade level.

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3. Working with Parents Can Be Challenging

One crucial part of a teacher’s career is knowing how to work with the parents of her students. Working with parents is hard and can be extremely exhausting. One day you can have a parent yelling in your face, and another day a parent can be telling you everything that you are doing wrong as a teacher. You have to be able to have a strong sense of self-worth, as well as backbone to be able to get through these types of situations.

4. Earning Students’ Respect Takes Time

Unfortunately, you can’t demand respect from your students, it has to be earned. The only way to earn your students’ respect is to be fair, honest, and to never go back on your word. You also have to respect them as well. You can try and make yourself look as old and professional as you want to, but it will not immediately make them respect you because of the way you look. Earning respect takes time, but once you get it, it is worth it.

5. You Will Spend Your Own Money On the Classroom

Even if you are hired at a school district where the money flows freely (which is unusually rare), you will still end up using your own money for something related to the classroom. It is inevitable that there will be some type of supplies that you just have to have in your classroom that your school will not pay for. Plan on emptying your pockets sometimes, or when you need something for your classroom. Or you can try a donor’s site like Donorschoose.org to ask for supplies that is not in your budget.

6. Technology Will Be Your Best Friend

Technology is here to help make your life easier. What you may not realize, is how much you will count on it when you are a teacher. You will use the Internet to search for lesson plans, go on teacher blogs to get advice, buy school supplies, connect with your students and their parents, and this is just to name a few instances. If you try and spend just one day without technology you will probably feel like you lost your best friend.

7. Your Colleagues Will Become Some of Your Closest Friends

Oftentimes people say that being a teacher is like being a surrogate parent, because your students are with you the majority of the time that they are awake. Well, if that’s the case, then when you are working so closely with your fellow teachers, then they will in turn become your closest friends. These are the people that you will see day in and day out, five days a week. You will count on them for advice, as well as many other things. They will only be a hop, skip, and a jump away, and will end up being closer to you than some of your best friends.

If you knew what you know now about becoming a teacher, would you still do it? Teaching is a challenging job and what you thought you knew about it, isn’t always the case.

What things did you learn as a teacher that you didn’t know beforehand? Please share your stories in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.

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.