Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Teaching Profession and You

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a teacher?
Whenever you talk to people about teaching, you hear just as many advantages to being a teacher as you hear disadvantages.
-You get to work with kids and hopefully make a difference in their lives
-Out of work by 3 or 4 everyday
-And of course, the big one: You get summers off

            -Teaching isn’t very respected by other professions
            -Teachers are always viewed under a microscope. Small mistakes could end your career
            -You have to deal with students who misbehave, and their parents who sometimes are equally as disrespectful
-Teaching is a lot more work than people think it is
-Teaching can get repetitive
-Teachers aren’t paid a lot
-Just because you feel something should be taught a certain way, doesn’t mean you’ll get to teach it that way
-Hard to find teaching jobs due to budget cuts in a lot of districts

So here’s the big question: After looking at those 2 lists, why would anyone want to be a teacher? To answer this question, you really need to ask yourself if the pros outweigh the cons. And honestly, 2 of the advantages on that list we can get rid of right now. If you’re a truly effective teacher, your job does not end at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, nor does it end in June when school lets out for summer. Great teachers are always working hard to either plan for the next day of class or plan for the next school year. So that cuts the advantages list down to 1 advantage, against 10 disadvantages. So now you have to ask yourself: “Does getting to work with kids and perhaps make a big difference in their lives outweigh my desires to go get drunk and post those pictures on my Facebook, Myspace, Xanga, Blog, etc?” If you really want to be a teacher, the answer to that question should be a resounding YES.

Another important question to ask yourself: “Am I willing to put myself in a situation where perhaps 95% of my students will be absolutely terrible, and their parents will be worse, and neither one of them will respect my profession or what I’m trying to teach them, but maybe, just maybe, if I work hard enough, I can really make a positive impact on 1 student and change their life for the better, is that worth it?” Again, this answer should be a resounding yes. I’ll admit, 95% may be a bit of an exaggeration, but too many people go into teaching expecting it to be a walk in the park only to find these things out the hard way.

What are the satisfactions—and complaints—of today's teachers?
A lot of the satisfactions and complaints about teaching are similar if not the same as the 2 lists I’ve made above. Depending on who you talk to there may be a few more advantages or a few less disadvantages but for the most part the lists are pretty similar. But ask any great teacher if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and they’ll tell you “Absolutely.”
            During my EDU 256 experience, I had a chance to observe and interview a fantastic English teacher at the high school level. She was highly praised by everyone that I talked to as one of the best teachers in the district. During our interview, she admitted how hard teaching is and how every teacher hits a point where they wonder if it’s worth it. She went on to say that the even though all teachers get to that stage, the great ones push past it because they know that if they can make a difference in one students life, then it’s all worth it.

Can we consider teaching to be a profession?
A profession is a paid occupation that requires extensive training and formal qualifications. Based on this definition, yes teaching is absolutely a profession. Teaching requires years of schooling and training as well as real world observation and practice experience. On top of that, a profession is a career where its required to act professional. Professionalism, as defined in EDU 255, is a collection of behaviors and actions that uphold the integrity of a profession. As mentioned above, behavior that doesn’t uphold the integrity of the profession is an easy way to lose your job. Although I don’t agree with teachers losing jobs for things as small as a glass of wine in a picture, it’s important that teachers work hard and strive to be role models. Especially since, as teachers, we have a lot of contact and hopefully a lot of influence over our students and their lives.

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