What are the tools we need for this profession?
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To me, there are two major advantages to being a teacher. First, you are in a job where you are using your brain all the time. This makes it very stimulating because it always challenges you to think -- to figure out how you are going to explain a subject or react to a situation or question.
Second, you get to be with people who are, usually, fun to be around. You get to form relationships, especially if you are in the lower grades or at a small high school.
The major downside is that you are sometimes dealing with people who do not want to be in your class and do not really want to learn.
The advantages of being a teacher are innumberable. We get the pleasure of impacting a new generation, working with people who often withhold judgement and long to have relationship, taking summers off, and constantly changing. No two days are every alike. And, we get to make lots of decisions all the time.
Some of the disadvantages include not selecting your clients. You cannot reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, we serve everyone... someone was a teacher for every mass murderer out there! Another disadvantage is the limits placed on teachers in regard to the extremes with which discipline can be issued. Students today are very manipulative and apathetic. It's hard to entertain and motivate! I often feel as if I have spent hours preparing for an audience, and it shouldn't be my job to work like that, they are the ones who should put in the work, they get the eventual diploma.
In high schools, the numbers of men and women serving students are pretty split. Middle school instructors are slightly more female, and by the time you hit elementary schools, women are the predominate gender at work.
To be a teacher, you must have patience, the ability to make lots of decisions at once, organization, and people skills.
There truly are many positive aspects of being a teacher. Each day is different from the next. You get to meet new young people each year and spend most of your time with them (a preference to adults, IMO). The satisfaction of seeing these students learn new things each day is immense, and being around teens all day help to keep me younger at heart. The school day is generally shorter than most other 8-to-5 jobs, and the summer vacation each year is a major plus. I also like the fact that teaching has a beginning and end each year that many jobs do not allow.
Negatives include the low pay that teachers receive in comparison to most other college-educated professions; constant discipline problems and students who come to school for social (not educational) purposes; excessive non-scholastic paperwork; and the monumental task of grading papers (during mostly non-school hours).
While so many young people are indolent and uninterested in learning, it is difficult for a stressed and exhausted teacher to feel that he/she has accomplished anything. But, years later in the local store when someone introduces this teacher to his/her children as "my favorite teacher," or "this is the teacher who taught me" or "this is the teacher who set such a good example of ----," the worn heart of the teacher swells with pride and warmth. To be appreciated is priceless! It is the reward of the stalwart, uncomprising, and concerned.
But, these sterling qualities of those who teach, who feel that they have something of worth to give young minds, has been thrawted by crass and callous bureaucrats who think that measuring teachers by standardized test scores has validity. Their measures and those of mediocre and incompetent administrators have done more to destroy public education than any other forces other than permissive parents.
Posts 3 and 4 have said the truth. Often it is a thankless job in a unrealistic environment and there are weeks that one spends 50-60 hours working for the lowest pay of any professional. (Especially teachers who must read essays and papers regularly!) The "tools" of patience, perseverance, and energy--spiritual and physical--are needed for this metier.
But, at the end of the "day," the teacher knows that he/she has done something worthwhile, and has not just gone to work and back.
What no one is saying (but everyone is thinking):
Advantages: you cannot beat the hours and the vacation time. For anyone wanting to raise a family, this is arguably the best/easiest opportunity to maximize time with children.
Disadvantages: In many public high schools and middle schools today, I would argue that a teacher has as high risk of a job as a law enforcement officer. The number of threats and fights - not to mention the general amount of verbal disrespect many teachers put up with on an hourly basis, is staggering, and I doubt many people recognize this. The job is ofen more than thankless... it is downright difficult, especially in some of the inner-city and high risk schools.
I was just talking with someone about the hours and vacation, as someone else mentioned, it is a great choice if you like to/hope to be able to hang out with your kids in a predictable way. There aren't many careers available like it.
One of the other advantages is working with all kinds of different students. Lots of people seem to feel that students are less motivated these days, but from what I remember in high school, it was just the same while I was there. Unfortunately much of what we are expected to "teach" and many of the ways we are expected to do it aren't effective and haven't been for ages but we are afraid to change them.
I just spoke with two former students today (and as someone else mentioned, this can be a fantastic reward for putting in some work and caring about the folks in your classroom) about the fact that a very low percentage of students read the books assigned to them. There have always been ways to get around reading books you don't want to and there are more now. But they will read often if given the choice and the time to do so.
So why are we still assigning books and asking students to write essays on books they haven't read?
I digress... Being a teacher is great too because you are getting to learn from a big group of students five times a day. I have learned so much during my teaching career, it is exciting to think how much more I will learn as time goes on.
There are many advantages of being a teacher. First of all, it is incredibly rewarding. It is a great feeling to be able to help children learn. (Being that it is summer break right now, I have to add that summers off are very nice as well.)
A disadvantage of being a teacher is that education is in a bit of a crisis right now. Illinois is laying off teachers left and right because there is no money for education.
As with any choice of career, it shows maturity to consider advantages and disadvantages to see whether this choice is one that is best suited for your lifestyle and needs. Since everyone is different, and different teaching locales and districts create different atmospheres of employment, it must be stated that advantages for me, may not necessarily be deemed as such by others. Nevertheless, here is my list:
I love my choice of career for these top reasons:
1. I share a subject for which I have a passion on a daily passion.
2. I positively influence lives
3. I teach at my sons' school.
4. I have a daily schedule that doesn't vary.
5. The vacations allow me to energize and spend time with family.
I don't love my choice of career sometimes because:
1. I share a subject for which I have a passion with an audience who doesn't feel the same.
2. I can negatively influence lives if not careful. (That's a lot of pressure.)
3. I teach at my sons' school (LOL)
4. I have a daily schedule that doesn't vary (this can become a bit of bore sometimes).
5. The vacations make me realize that I spend much too much time focused on school, prepping, correcting, and such, and I just don't have the time to smell the roses daily. This is a bit sad at times.
Don't forget to smell those roses. It's what will make you a better teacher.
I get to work mostly independently, and how many jobs can you say that about? I get to teach a subject I love, and work with young people, which really does keep me young. I have 3.5 months of vacation per year, better than any profession I know of, and despite the popular conception, I earn a decent living with good benefits.
To do all that, I work very long hours - usually 50 - 60 per week, for weeks at a time. The bureaucracy is painful and the school is usually broke and the truly bright students are few and far between. Testing is overemphasized and the public uses public education as a favorite whipping boy for societal ills. Parents can drive you crazy sometime.
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