I feel conflicted because I love the topic but what are some issues that can come from doing so?
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Your teacher is to be commended for inspiring you to follow in her footsteps. Your interest in doing so is the greatest reward she could ever receive.
As with any calling, trade, or profession, there are issues involved with teaching. Students do not always share our passion for the topic; administrators seem more concerned with test scores than learning, and the pay is not exactly top grade. Still, by doing so you have made a contribution to the future, much as your teacher has done. The best analogy that comes to mind is planting a seed. Some seeds you plant will fall on barren ground. Others will not bear fruit immediately, perhaps not even in your lifetime; but when they do, it will have done so because of your efforts. There is no greater reward than hearing a former student comment on how you influenced his/her life. Your students will remember what you have done for them long after you have moved on. There is no monetary value you can put on that. And there is no other profession that can lay claim to such a lofty reward.
If you enjoy the topic, like kids, and are willing to be patient and wait for results, and understand that you can't and won't win them all, then you should go for it. If you want to set the world on fire and expect your students to hang on to your every word, then perhaps another field would be appropriate. Personally, I can't imagine doing anything else; in fact I can't believe I get paid to do it. Hope that helps.
Teaching can be rewarding. It is fulfilling when a student that you have taught comes back for a visit to share his or her successes. That is when teaching is worth all the effort that it takes. At the same time, as mentioned above, teaching can be disappointing and disheartening when some students do not appreciate a teacher's efforts. My advice to you is to know that when you choose the field of teaching, don't allow some students to dishearten you. I have always lived by the quote:
"Life doesn't let you down, your expectations do." Just know that all of your students will not be as eager to learn and succeed as it sounds as if you are. It is important to have high expectations, but not every student will rise to the occasion. Teach for the ones who do.
If you are inspired to teach, then you should do some observation in a classroom. Talk to some teachers about the reality of teaching, especially high school. The good thing about wanting to be a biology teacher is that if you decide not to teach, you have a BS in biology and there's a lot you can do with that! Ask yourself if you love the subject or the students.
While I agree with my colleague above and believe that teaching is a high calling with many rewards, but it is not the perfect job for everyone. Teaching is hard. So many factors come into play when teenagers are involved, and sometimes it's hard to teach around--or through--them. Conditions at home or jobs, illness, broken relationships, hunger, lack of sleep, and so many more all have have an impact on how well I can do my job and how effective I can be every period of every day. A good teacher, I think, invests time outside of school in the activities of his or her students, and that is certainly a sacrifice of time. Despite any of the negatives, though, teaching is rewarding and important. I commend you on your choice!
I agree with all the good thoughts that my colleagues have already shared with you here. I've been a biology teacher for 25 years, and it's hard to imagine ever doing anything else. Let me give you a few subject-specific things to consider also.
In some schools and some areas of the country, evolution is still a touchy topic.Although I am in progressive New England and I have always enjoyed good support from the principals I have worked for, I am still careful with this one because I don't think it's productive to alienate those who put their faith first. My personal solution is to preface the evolution material with a frank talk with my students. I tell them that this is not a theology class, and I am not attempting to convert them or insult them, merely to inform them what scientists believe the mechanism of evolution is.The feedback I have gotten is very supportive; those with strong religious convictions tell me that they are pleased that I am being respectful to them and to their faith, and they usually do well on the test.
Another potential minefield is dissections - to do them or not do them, that's a tough question. I have backed down the number and variety I do because the materials are getting expensive and I have developed a formaldehyde sensitivity (occupational hazard). Alternatives do require some creativity, though the advent of online forums has helped with that. Biology teachers have a lot of extra prep work because of the labs; it's tough the first couple of years until you get your feet under you, but that's true of teaching in general.
If you're still in school I would urge you to take more than the minimum of non-bio science classes. Chemistry and Physics in particular are super important - they are the underpinnings of all of biology, and if your foundation in these is weak, your knowledge of biology will be superficial at best. You also need a solid math foundation, including a good statistics course or two.
Oh, and take a course in microscope repair. You'll be glad you did, trust me!
Of course there are downsides to teaching biology. One major issue in many parts of the US would be the issue of teaching evolution. In many areas, the majority of people do not believe in evolution and there are cases of school boards trying to require the teaching of intelligent design as a viable alternative to evolution. This bothers many biology teachers, frustrating them because a fundamental process of their discipline is seen as a false theory.
You have to dissect stuff?! No, I think it is important that you realise that every profession has both its positives and negatives. No matter how passionate you are about any career, there will be times when you will be frustrated and irritated by your career choice. I would advise you speaking to the teacher that inspired you so greatly. Firstly, as a teacher myself, we hardly get any positive feedback from students, so to have you telling your teacher what an important role he or she has played in your life will be greatly appreciated. Secondly, he or she can tell you directly what the benefits and disadvantages are of pursuing a career as a Biology teacher.
Teaching is a calling. If your teacher has touched you in such a way to inspire you to also teach, you should definitely consider it. There are many worse ways to earn a living. The pay is not always grand, but those of us who are called to teach do so because we love it. If you love your subject matter (which apparently, you do), you love working with kids (who are not always stable, or come from decent homes where they eat regularly and are loved unconditionally), and you can deal with constant change (no two days are ever exactly alike--you will constantly put out fires...this may be even literally true for you in a lab situation...you will constantly be asked to change the way you do things to adapt to the current and "in" teaching idea, etc.), then I say go for it! We always need new and inspiring teachers out there for our young people!
Keep in mind, too, that there are many places and ways to teach. You may find yourself tutoring (live or online) or even teaching in a private school, parochial school, alternative, and overseas school, or a jail! The choice is up to you, but there are no limitations but the ones you put on yourself.
There is nothing negative about learning. However, I can see from your statement that the sentiment that you feel is that tampering with what you may consider to be something pure, like life, may be conflicting with your particular love for science.
You will learn, as you go, that life is MEANT to be explored. Whoever created life obviously meant for us to perpetuate it and keep it healthy, clean, and enjoyable. Whether it is through cutting open a leaf to explore its properties or simply changing the diet of a lion to see how it can live longer, life is indeed meant to be understood and respected
Therefore, there is nothing wrong in following the steps of a teacher that definitely did his or her job well. Go for it! Love it, live it, and give it your everything! You will never regret it!
You've got lots of great suggestions and summaries of good points and bad points regarding teaching in general and teaching high school biology in particular. Careful consideration of all that information is important - before, after, and while you are spending as much time as possible in biology classrooms observing and thinking. I would strongly encourage you to ask your role model if you would be able to come in after school to help set up labs for the next day, if you could help collect materials to be used in classroom projects, if you could act as an after-school tutor for students who are having problems with the class, etc. The more exposure you can gain to the types of activities that are involved in biology education, the better!
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