Seven More Questions to Ask About Teacher Education
If you’re thinking of joining the teaching profession, have you asked yourself these 7 crucial questions? Many prospective teachers imagine the great things they will accomplish in the classroom. However, it is important to realize that not everyone is suited to be a teacher. There are many important considerations to make when deciding if this career path is right for you. Make sure you have considered these 7 crucial questions before jumping into a teacher preparation program.
What is your motivation for becoming a teacher?
Do you wish to impact the lives of children? Are you passionate about helping students who may struggle? Are you simply looking for a stable job? A good salary? These are important considerations. Veteran teachers don’t shy away from explaining that the profession is a difficult one.
Though the new teacher turnover rate in America is extremely high, many teachers have stayed in the profession for twenty or more years because they are passionate about educating young people and helping them become the best version of themselves. It is true that teaching is a stable profession- teachers will always be needed. However, many states do not compensate their teachers well, and therefore the only teachers who make it past the first few years are those with a fervent passion for education- a passion so strong it can withstand the sometimes nightmare-ish days in a classroom.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You may be a great writer. But does that mean you should be an English teacher? It is important to weigh your strengths and weaknesses when deciding if teaching is the right profession for you. For instance, many teachers at the secondary level end up quitting in the first year because their excellent math skills did not turn out to be very helpful when dealing with classroom management issues as a Mathematics teacher. Similarly, you may love playing with elementary-age kids, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy teaching them content and disciplining them when necessary.
What grade do you want to teach?
If you plan to teach Kindergarten, are you prepared to deal with children wetting their pants on accident or crying over a toy that someone else is playing with? If you plan to teach 12th grade, are you prepared to give advice about college or send a student to the counselor because she told you she’s pregnant? Teaching, at every grade level, is so much more than academic lessons and content knowledge. When you become a teacher, you not only become responsible for the academic success of your students, but also their safety, physical health and, at times, their emotional well-being.
Are you willing to obtain an additional degree or certification?
Teaching at the elementary level requires a college degree in Education, while teaching at the secondary level generally requires a college degree related to the content area you plan to teach, plus a teaching certification on top of that. Degrees and certification programs will cost you time and money. If you have already graduated with a degree in Public Relations but plan to teach 3rd grade, are you prepared to go back to school for a degree in Education?
When will you graduate?
If you plan to become a teacher as soon as you graduate college, make sure that you consider school start times. The school year generally runs from August of one year until May or June of the next year. If you graduate in the winter, what do you plan to do with yourself until the school year begins? It is possible to be hired in the middle of the school year, but that is rare. How will you support yourself without a job for many months while you wait for the school year to begin?
Do you have time to devote in addition to a 40-hour workweek?
It’s no secret that a majority of teachers work more than 40 hours per week. Teachers often take stacks of essays home to grade or spend their weekends writing lesson plans. Are you prepared to work 50, and on some occasions 60, hours per week? Keep in mind, though, that teachers are also paid during their 3-month summer vacation. Is this trade-off something that would work with your current lifestyle?
How many schools are in your city?
Once you have your teaching certification or Education degree, it is up to you to find a teaching job. If you live in a large city such as Houston, Texas, this will be no problem. There will probably be sixty schools within a 5-mile radius that are looking to hire new teachers. However, if you live in a small town with a sparse population such as Buford, Wyoming, be prepared to possibly be on the job market for a couple of years unless you plan to drive two hours to and from work every day.
Overall, the teaching profession is a unique one and requires a special person to take on the job. After considering these 7 questions, do you feel that teaching is the right profession for you at this time in your life?