7 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Teaching Career
Jun 1, 2013 Career Development 1880 Views
Teaching is a tough profession. Most teachers put invest themselves heavily into their students, spending time, money and other resources that far exceed the meager income they make. Still, it is a profession that has its own unique rewards and challenges. Here are seven that could have a profound effect on your career.
Something new comes along about every other year. Whatever you are doing right now, what ever mandate the school board is working under, will likely change this year or next. Right now the catch phrase is "Common Core" and everyone is talking about it. Some are talking it up and some are discounting it, but everyone is talking about it, and whether you like it or not, it's coming.
What is unsettling is the fact that a a year or so after it is implemented, it will be replaced by something newer and presumably better. Long before all the data is in, and before we can tweak out the imperfections, something newer and shinier will replace it. No sense fighting city hall, or the school board, it has been that way for years and isn't likely to change.
Technology will alter the way you teach. Get used to it. Venture over to Twitter and type in "#edtech" and you will be amazed at the number of people and firms who are passionate about bringing technology into the classroom as quickly as possible and you can believe that parents and school boards are listening. Corporations are investing heavily in producing the newest devices and software that they promise will improve they way our students learn. In a world where our competitive advantage against other developing nations is dwindling, tech is seen as the tool to keep us ahead.
Social media is coming to your classroom. The influx of technology, and especially computers and cellphones, means that social media is close behind. While some schools still restrict them, some classrooms are already making good use of sites like Twitter, Facebook, private blogs and more. Whether or not these tools have efficacy is still to be determined, but lots of people, most notably your students themselves, are eager to see them as a part of your teaching strategy.
Students will be less prepared this year than they were last. Retired high school teacher, Kenneth Bernstein is warning college professors that high stakes testing is forcing today's teacher to help students pass those tests rather than how to think analytically. Of course, this is true at every grade level, not just high school. No Child Left Behind was introduced with the best of motives, but it has been disastrous for our students. We need a better way to measure the reasons schools, and students, fail and succeed. In the meantime, you can expect that each year your students will be a little less prepared than the year before.
You will have to be very careful about sensitive situations. Hardly a week goes by without some scandalous story about an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student. As a result parents and school boards are hypersensitive about anything with the merest hint of impropriety. For that reason, if you are a teacher, and especially if you are a male teacher, you need to be doubly on your guard concerning any situation that might be perceived as inappropriate.
Good subs are worth their weight in gold. Sooner or later you are going to need a good substitute and life is certainly a lot more pleasant for you and your students if you have a personal favorite substitute. A good sub can make you look good, keep your students up to speed and provide calm consistency where needed. Add a couple to your Rolodex for future reference.
Not all your pay is in your paycheck. Most of the lawyers I know got into the business with the idea that the wanted to fight for the little guy; only to be lure away by the smell of lucrative contracts with the big guys. Teachers, fortunately, have no such temptations. Nearly all teachers teach for very altruistic reasons. Our paychecks may be modest, but we know that teaching comes with other rewards that don't fit on a bank statement: being stopped repeatedly in the grocery store by former students, getting letters of thanks from students who have succeeded, and the general knowledge that we have made a difference. Look around, many very successful people have left good-paying jobs in search of more meaningful work, even if it means taking a huge cut in pay. One recent survey showed that school teachers are among the most happy of all the professions. There's a good reason for that: we already have jobs that have meaning for this generation and the next. No one can put a price tag on that... though I wish they would try.