4 Key Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Teacher
Remember your school days? Love them or loathe them, often your view about your experiences in education was based on your teachers. One good teacher is all it takes to see the potential in you and to completely change your perspective at a young age.
Perhaps you are now thinking ‘should I become a teacher?’ Maybe you are wanting to give back to the next generation. But if you are going to leap into education then you need to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Here’s what you need to know about becoming a teacher.
1. Teaching Takes Up More Time Than the Average 9-5
Teaching takes up a lot more time than you think. Many people think teachers get long holidays and only have to work the school day during the week but this is to miss the point.
Teachers also have to do a lot of marking. This has to be completed in your own time and not during school hours when you will be teaching. There are also lesson plans and health and safety risk assessments as well as meetings and parents evenings to attend.
But there is a further responsibility and that is the time it takes to resolve the issues of students who are in trouble. Perhaps they have taken illegal drugs, have been arrested by the police or are accused of bullying another student.
Maybe their home life has fallen apart and so they are not attending school regularly. While other agencies can investigate these issues, these are not isolated incidents and often require the input of the teacher and require the teacher to speak to the student one-to-one.
If you find that this is not for you don’t despair there are many alternative jobs for teachers.
2. Teaching Requires Emotional Energy
More than anything teaching requires emotional energy. You are invested in your students and you want them to do well so if they fail a test or an important exam then you can start thinking about them in your spare time.
Good teachers will also go above and beyond what is necessary in the classroom and will ensure that all of their students are prepared and ready to enter the wider world.
They might even end up spending some of their own money on bus fare for students or on helping them get the correct textbooks to prepare for an exam.
If you are an emotional person then this can take its toll on your eventually. You need to work out a strategy for dealing with your emotions towards students in distress otherwise it can affect your home life.
You cannot help every single student and solve all of their problems and you need to remember that you are not the only person in that student’s life trying to help them or set them straight.
Find allies in your school – other teachers or the school therapists – who can assist you and take some of the weight of your shoulders.
3. You Need To Study Hard All the Time
Good teachers don’t rest on their laurels. They are constantly learning and improving their knowledge to pass on to their own students.
If you just have a bachelor’s degree then you may want to study part-time for a Master’s degree while teaching.
If you have a degree in the liberal arts then you might feel that is appropriate to study a science degree part-time to broaden your horizons.
If you go to a school where many of the students speak English as a second language and their first language is Spanish – perhaps in the state of Flordia – you may feel that it would be beneficial to you learn another language. In fact some officials think Florida residents learning English as a second language should sit tests in Spanish.
This way you can speak to students in their own language and connect with them more and understand their culture.
4. You Need to Be a People Person
Teaching is not just about standing at the front of the classroom and regurgitating the vast amounts of knowledge that you have to your students. Many subjects are not fact-based and require deeper thinking than this such as teaching Philosophy.
That technique won’t get you anywhere. This is not what the teaching profession is about.
It assumes that all of your students are as interested in the subject as you are. Most of them won’t be.
To be a good teacher you need to be a good people person. You need to be able to read your students and figure out what they are thinking and how you can get them to learn and study.
This is challenging but it is about psychology more than anything else. In Finland, they teach computer skills in an interesting way that gets students’ interest, through Chess, a game at least 1,300 years old.
Do you use rewards such as sweets or a points-based system? Or are you a strict teacher who enforces high standards and punishment for those who don’t follow the rules? Deciding which path to follow often depends on the type of students you have and trialing both methods to find out what they respond to best.
Becoming a Teacher Takes Patience, Understanding and Empathy
The most important thing about becoming a teacher is understanding that it is not just about learning itself. It’s about understanding what motivates students and how you can get the best out of them.
This takes patience and a lot of empathy. You also need to study hard continuously to ensure that you are always expanding your knowledge which you can then pass on to your students.
Finally, you also need to remember that the teaching profession requires a lot of emotional energy as you are often dealing with children who have problems at home.
If you are interested in learning more about being a teacher be sure to check out the rest of our site.