What I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Teacher
Reviewed by Jon Konen, District Superintendent
You might be wondering, “Is it hard becoming a teacher?” or “What is it like being a teacher?” If so, you should know the job of a teacher can be one of the most challenging and rewarding careers one can choose.
Although it is easy to daydream about the benefits of inspiring the next generation of learners, every prospective teacher should get some form of reality check before they pursue this role. Whether you are thinking about working in elementary, middle, high school or college level academics, you should learn as much as possible about the profession before making your final decision.
What You Really Need to Know
If you are forming a list of reasons for being a teacher, there are some things to think about to help you decide.
- Parents Can Be Just As Challenging to Work With as Students
If you don’t have kids already, you may not have much experience with parents and how they raise their children. Honestly- they’re either going to be your best help in shaping their child’s learning, or they’re going to make it hard for you to do your job.
Some parents will simply micro-manage, and take up too much of your time. If you are going to teach a grade level that requires parent/teacher interaction, be sure you’re up for it – and have a plan!
- Teaching Promotions and Pay are Tied to Degree Completion
Some careers are merit based and a college education simply checks off a box that employers want to see. Teachers, on the other hand, are rewarded for completing specific education requirements, earning advanced degrees and certifications.
If you want to become a top-paid specialist in an area of education, you will likely need your masters or doctoral degree to meet your state’s requirements for becoming a teacher.
- You May Have to Spend Your Own Money
There are times when you might have to dip into your own funds to help cover the costs of school supplies. This is especially true in elementary education, where there may be students who can’t afford all the necessary supplies for daily activities and extra projects you want to do. You can avoid this by asking parents for their help. Many times, parents are just busy and need to be reminded.
- You Need to Be Highly Organized – Or Get That Way Quick!
Every moment of your time matters when you’re leading the classroom. Not a moment will go by where you aren’t looked to for guidance by your students. You’ll need to learn how to plan, execute, manage, and teach all types of learners; all while maintaining control of students with diverse personalities and backgrounds.
It’s a lot to juggle. Make the most of any planning periods you receive. And ask other teachers for their advice and techniques as well.
- Be Careful About Social Media
In today’s education landscape, this is perhaps the most important advice you can follow. Once something is born online, it’s impossible to get rid of if it gathers someone else’s attention.
Don’t post inflammatory comments, even jokingly, since politically incorrect behavior is frowned upon in the teaching profession. Don’t be friends with students on social media either. Connect with them in ways that are in accordance with your school’s policies. Many schools use software that classrooms can use to connect with each other about school related topics and activities, so use these tools to talk to your classroom kids.
Getting fired for inappropriate social media activity can impair your ability to get your next teaching job, or can even kill your career. Especially if the story goes viral! Be wise.
So here’s the final take…
The best thing you can do before becoming a teacher is talk to current educators, and colleges that offer education focused degree programs. They can let you know what requirements to expect in your state.
And they can help you understand all the how’s and why’s of teaching that you need to know before pursuing the type of teaching job you want. There’s a lot you’re going to learn once you enter the classroom, but by having a good idea of what teaching is really like, you can be ahead of the curve.