Teaching - Is It For You? An Honest Appraisal Of The Ups And Downs Of
Oct 12, 2008 Career Development 1923 Views
Teaching is not for everyone. It is hard work, has long hours and pay is only average. What about the holidays? Well, yes every job has its compensations. The holidays in most countries are fair reward for the hard work during the academic year.
Teaching has changed and individual teachers no longer have the freedom of action that they had thirty years ago. This has benefits as well as disadvantages. No longer do teachers just work from a syllabus, preparing all their own work schemes. No longer does the young teacher have to spend hours every night writing worksheets.
Most people thinking of entering teaching want to know what they are letting themselves in for. Hard work, stressful days, short evenings and little free time is the simple answer.
Why would anyone want to take all that on for a teacher's salary? Most eachers enjoy their time teaching. The teaching day is structured, but the fine details are unpredictable. You will never be bored.
There can be an enormous sense of satisfaction from communicating parts of your knowledge to groups of young people. An experienced and successful teacher is one of the most skilled communicators on the planet.
There will be rare instances of 100% perfect communication between teacher and students that are worth a lot. These golden moments are ones you will remember all your life and they make up for the day to day grind.
Every young teachers make mistakes, like in any job. It is unfortunate that a teacjher's mistakes affect others' learning, but they can be rectified and it is important to recognise your mistakes and to learn from them.
Unfortunately there are other aspects to a teacher's life that are less rewarding. These include staff meetings, parents' evenings, assessment forms and marking students' books. A teacher only spends half of his or her time teaching, the other half is spent on these less rewarding tasks.
A typical teacher spends 20 hours a week teaching, 2 hours a week in meetings, 10 hours a week preparing lessons and at least 10 hours a week marking books - a 42 hour week.
Most teachers in their first year spend 30 hours a week preparing lessons, including becoming familiar with the school level requirements of their subjects - 62 hour week.
Schools usually expect teachers to run extra-curricular activities for students, though there is rarely a contractual obligation to do so. Teachers in their first few years should think very carefully before agreeing to take part in any time consuming extra-curricular commitments, because of the already heavy workload that is unavoidable at this time.
Is teaching for you? The best way to find out is to spend some time in a school with teachers. The best way to do this is to talk to someone at your local school about observing teachers in action, explaining that you are thinking of becoming a teacher.
You need to do this for at least 2 weeks when the school is in a normal period of activity, rather than the end of term or in exam sessions. This will give you a feeling for what is involved in a teacher's day to day life. Ask if you can spend some time following an individual teacher around for a whole day to grasp fully the pressures and pleasures of teaching.
If you do enter teaching you will have to learn to respond intelligently to the many detractors that the profession has. Many peole will say "Anyone can teach. Those holidays...".
"Why don't you teach then?" is the best way to answer.