You have made up your mind, set your career path, and want to become a teacher. Teaching is definitely a rewarding career. You truly are shaping the minds and hearts of our future generation. However, teaching is not for the faint at heart.
Although all job professions have challenges that must be overcome to succeed in that particular profession. Being a teacher poses a set of challenges and frustrations unique to any other job profession. You must be aware of these challenges and frustrations before becoming a teacher. In order to be a successful teacher, you must be prepared to take on the following challenges.
Your Work is Never Done
Many people think that teachers work from the time school begins until school is out. So this would be considered an 8 AM – 3 PM job in most places, right? Not exactly, you will be working well beyond those hours.
The reality of teaching is that you will be planning, preparing lessons, and grading assignments before school hours, after school hours, and even on the weekends. Honestly, even when you have all of these things done, you will always have more work to do in your classroom. Truly, your work is never done.
You might be thinking, “Well, that’s ok. I will have the summers off”. Many people think that teachers have these long relaxing summers. Wrong! During the summer, teachers often have professional development classes or may need to continue their education to move up on the pay scale. Don’t forget new curriculum that must be learned before the new school year starts. Also, teachers will reflect during the summer on what worked and didn’t work during the school year. This reflection will prompt new strategies or lessons that will need to be planned out for the next school year. Again, your work is never done.
You Will Be Teaching More Than Just Academics
You are so excited about teaching math or science, but I must warn you that you will be teaching so much more than academic subjects. Today, teachers are not only responsible for educating children in all academic areas but also in how to be a good citizen.
Your students will come from many different types of homes. Some of these homes will be stable and full of love. However, you will have many students who do not experience that type of home life. These children will look to you for what they are missing. You will be teaching students manners, how to apologize to others, how to be kind, how to treat others, how to be respectful, etc. Most importantly, you will be teaching students how to take responsibility for their actions and that their actions have consequences. In addition, you will be teaching students how to work together and how to solve conflicts on their own.
You might be thinking, “If I have to teach all these things, when will I have time to teach academics?” Honestly, some days you will feel like you are only teaching citizenship to your students. In my opinion, teaching this is far more important than teaching academics. Now, I don’t want to mislead you. There are families that teach their children morals, but the reality is that teachers often have to teach and support these important concepts too.
Your Work Performance Doesn’t Equal Your Salary
The average teacher salary in the United States is around $58,000 per year. However, this salary is not for beginning teachers, but teachers that have been teaching for 5-7 years. First year teachers make thousands less, and it may take them longer to reach the average teacher salary depending on the state that they live in.
You can be the best teacher in the world, but you will not get a promotion based on your outstanding work performance. You will have to move up the pay scale, year by year, like all the other teachers. Extra work that will be done outside of your contractual hours will not be rewarded with a bonus or a pay raise.
However, teachers want to be recognized for their dedication and hard work in order to get tenure. Tenure provides job security for teachers who have completed a probationary period. Tenured teachers are considered to have job security because they have certain rights that protect them from losing their jobs for unjustified reasons.
Your Education is Never Over
You have finally finished getting your bachelor’s degree and completing the credential program, but your education is not over. As a teacher, you will continue learning new curriculum, new teaching strategies, state standards, new teaching philosophies, etc.
Between content standards and teaching practices, teaching is ever changing. States will adopt new standards every few years and new teaching practices will be introduced. Every 5-7 years you will be implementing a new curriculum in math, English/language/arts, science, and social studies. As technology increases, you will also be learning new technologies and programs that will enhance your teaching along with student learning.
So is teaching for you?
Honestly, teaching is a tough job that requires a lot of work and dedication. Don’t go into teaching for the money or the recognition. Go into teaching because you love kids and want to make a difference in their lives. Although many people dream of becoming a teacher, it does take a special person who loves children, learning, and a challenge. There will be days that you are totally exhausted by the work and the emotional aspects of teaching. However, there will also be days that you know you made a difference in a child’s life. Those are the days that make being a teacher so worth it.