So you want to be a teacher? Great, so now what do you do? Are you ready for the classroom? Are you ready to meet the demands of your administration? Are you ready to deal with the politics of the position of a teacher? Schools are not what they use to be, nor are they what you expect them to be. The same goes for the teaching profession.
Teachers are assumed to be people who have it easy: they work five to six hours a day, they have weekends and summers off, they get two paid vacations during the school year (Christmas and Spring/Easter break), and they get great medical benefits and a great pension package. That is not the entire truth. With the strategic changes in education, many teachers now work seven to nine hours a day in accordance to schools with extended days schedules for extended learning. Many school districts have trimmed that two week paid vacation to one week, eliminating Spring/Easter break. For some teachers throughout the country, the changing politics of education has seen public policy reform regarding teacher tenure, shared health-care costs and in the pension and retirement system. Teaching isn’t exactly how it was before in yesteryear; yet to be discussed are the various changing factors that impact your ability to teach i.e. parental engagement or lack thereof, student population, administrative turnover and etcetera.
In addition, it can be argued that teachers work even harder once they leave the school building. Lesson plans and actual lessons are put together most times in the comfort of the teacher’s home. While lesson plans are not the most complex of task, writing according to a district mandated procedure can be a bit tedious. Writing and preparing actual classroom lessons are often times the most time consuming and stressful of task for the teacher. Like a coach who works game-by-game to develop a great game plan which is based on the team that they have and the upcoming challenge that lay ahead, teachers struggle with the same assignment. As a teacher, your “team” is your fellow teachers across all grade levels and content areas within your school. Your students ARE NOT the challenge or the opponent. The various circumstances of your students are one of the challenges as well as meeting district and state benchmarks in the form of proficiency scores on standardized test. Another critical challenge that you must game plan for is the human element.
On paper, job titles and student designations and categories are laid out and neatly put together to at the very least give the illusion of organization and structure. But the business of education does not function as an easily constructed equation. Educators deal with a myriad of variables and many of them are doubled or tripled with exponents. People account for the variables we find throughout the education apparatus as well as outside the school building and teachers have to game plan for everything. However, education is as much of a vocation as it is a business. Your passion for the job of educating students must fuel everything that you do. If this “job” isn’t something you consider a vocation, you should reconsider teaching. Teaching is more than delivering instruction and knowing your content area. Teaching and education in general, is about the people — the same can be said of every occupation. Parents look to educators to prepare their students for the world that awaits them and they look to teachers to cultivate their children to be productive, responsible and inquisitive young men and women. Students look to educators and more specifically, they look to teachers to teach them things that they didn’t know and quite honestly to make learning fun — as it should be. In some cases, students look to teachers to provide them with the support they may or may not be receiving at home. Administrators look to teachers as the frontline warriors in the battlefield of educating students in our current dispensation. As a teacher, your job is an important and vital one. Many people depend on teachers. The job is unsung, stressful, time-consuming, draining and exhausting, yet it is indeed one of the most fulfilling, rewarding and empowering careers out there where you can empower individuals and literally improve lives — all by educating kids.
In life and in education, you reap what you sow: sow much and you will reap much yet if you sow little, you will get very little back.
Welcome to the profession.