Summer is here and soon college classes will begin. Are any of you thinking of going into teaching next year? If you’re considering teaching as a career it is important that you know what you are getting into.
Becoming a teacher means much more than just crafting and executing lessons plans. As a teacher, you will fill many roles for your students; mentor, counselor, third parent, role model, and so much more. You have to be prepared to deal not only with your student’s grades, but their concerns, struggles, and problems. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for issues such as bullying, homelessness, and abuse. Being a teacher is a remarkably stressful job so make sure you are aware of all of these roles before you commit to it.
First let’s start by covering your typical “normal” teaching duties. The biggest one of course is planning and executing lesson plans. This will take a great deal of time away from school. You will likely spend some nights, weekends, and some of your summer, winter, and spring breaks planning your lessons. You are likely to plan lessons for both large and small groups, and depending on the size of the group, the lessons must change. After creating these lessons and homework assignments you will have to assess and grade not only these assignments, but your student’s overall performance. Again, this will likely not only take place in school. Grading papers and homework is time consuming and will eat into your nights and weekends.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. While teaching your students you must also start to prepare them for standardized tests. You will be in charge of composing and enforcing rules in your classroom. You will likely have to spend some time supervising students in the cafeteria or on the playground. You will be responsible for planning fieldtrips and working around school-wide events. And of course, you need to have a communication plan with parents. This doesn’t even include preparing for school events such as assemblies, parent teacher conferences, open house, and more.
So we’ve covered the principle duties of being a teacher. What about everything else? If you’re going to be a teacher you must be prepared to be a role model for your students. Not all kids have a positive role model at home. You must be prepared to step into that role. You will need to exhibit positive behaviors that your students can follow. Along with simply being a role model, you must be willing to listen to your students and their concerns. While getting a teaching degree does not qualify you to act as a mental health professional, there are aspects of that role you must take on. You need to listen to your students and be able to give advice. You also need to know when you need to report something to the authorities.
An unfortunate part of being a teacher is the signs you must watch for. The list seems to be endless. You have to monitor bad behavior and make sure it doesn’t turn dangerous. You need to watch for signs of abuse and neglect. You have to keep an eye out for bullying. You’ll need to monitor students you suspect are homeless. You also have to monitor students exhibiting damaging behaviors. And you have to know when the signs are enough to warrant a conversation with the student, the parents, or officials.
So, you still want to go into teaching? Well you’ll need your bachelor’s degree, the specific type depending on the grade level you want to teach. You’ll need to get a certain amount of teaching experience hours so you can get certified or get your license. Plus you’ll need to take additional courses to keep that license or certification. You may even have to go for a master’s degree.
By no means are we discouraging you from pursuing a career in teaching. Teaching is a wonderful, important job. Molding young minds and helping them make their way through the world is incredibly important. It just takes a specific type of person to be able to do it. If you truly care about making a difference in student’s lives, you’ll take the stress and long hours. And all of us will applaud you for it.
Teachers don’t teach for the money or the perks. They teach for the benefit of improving the lives of their students. It takes special person to be a teacher. Thank you to all of you teachers and soon-to-be teachers out there. The world wouldn’t be the same without you.