Career choices can be daunting. When you’re young, there is a lot of emphasis on the possibilities of your future. Deciding on a college major ultimately helps you decide on a career path. However, making that final decision can be clouded with questions, doubts and uncertainties.
Any adult can look back on their career path and tell you it wasn’t precisely an A to B journey. Life can sometimes work in conjunction with career plans, but often times it is the ultimate game-changer. For this reason, people decide whether or not to become a teacher at different stages in life.
Whether you are planning for your first career or are ready to change careers, a job as an educator can be an attractive possibility. Unlike many other professions, we have all seen teachers at work first hand. So the idea of being a teacher may have even been one of the first career paths you envisioned for yourself.
But should you become a teacher? This question can be answered by looking at some different aspects of the career and the path to becoming one.
Teaching is, at its core, one of the most fulfilling careers a person can have. It’s a career in which you are intrinsically helping others. The opportunity to work with many different students allows for exposure to all sorts of personalities, which can create a vivid, exciting human experience. It’s a career where you can actually make a difference in a young person’s life. Teaching also allows for a simply structured life. Teachers don’t have to travel long distances for their work, and daily schedules stay consistent. The workflow and busiest times of the year tend to stay consistent, allowing you to adapt to the needs and challenges of the job.
Teaching isn’t easy. The hours on the job are deceiving. School hours do not dictate the work hours needed to succeed. Many teachers work well into the night on their lesson plans and grading, and spend time on after-school responsibilities. Connecting, inspiring, and motivating students is a great challenge as it is, but teachers are also expected to work with administration and parents. The work necessary to be a successful teacher quickly adds up. The rewards of the profession don’t show themselves monetarily or daily. Nor do the measurements of success. This is something prospective teaching candidates need to realize before entering the career.
Try it Out
If teaching is a career choice you are considering, there are ways to get a taste of the work and see if it fits your expectations.
Seek out tutoring centers in your community, either commercial or volunteer. Start working with students and see if you have the skills and desire to help young people learn. Tutoring is ultimately very different than being a classroom teacher, but the experience of interacting with children in a learning environment will be a solid litmus test to determine if you should proceed with a degree in education.
- Substitute Teach
Depending on your state’s policies, you may be eligible to become a substitute teacher. This gives you first hand experience in a classroom interacting with students. Substitute teaching presents its own set of challenges. While it isn’t an exact replica of what it will be like to be a teacher, it gives you the basic elements and allows you to see first hand the challenges of the profession. Subbing is a great way to become comfortable in front of a classroom. It’s also an opportunity to start collecting tips and ideas on effective teaching methods. It’s a chance to start learning your craft in a professional environment.
Are You Willing to Relocate?
This is a great question to ask once you’ve decided to start pursuing the steps to become a teacher. For many, teaching where they already live is the simplest option. However, depending on the demands of the school in your city or state, finding full time employment may pose a challenge. If you’re willing to relocate, it’s a great idea to research where the biggest needs for teachers lie. Areas in the United States with high population growth typically have a greater need for teachers.
This is also time to start asking yourself what kind of teaching environment you want to be in. Are you interested in suburbs only? Rural communities? Charter schools? City schools? Often times, city schools need the most teachers. As s you consider a career as a teacher, figure out if where you live plays a role in your decision.
Inner City Schools
Inner city schools often need the most new teachers. Resources at many inner city schools tend to be strained. However, this means you’ll have a great opportunity to help in communities where they need quality and passionate educators. If the need for teachers is higher, the chances for your employment may be the best. There are also many programs and opportunities to help recruit new teachers into these communities. It’s a place where you can learn your craft and truly make a difference in the lives of your students.
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to pursue a teaching career, figure out how to get your credentials. Most universities and colleges have education programs. If you already have your undergraduate degree, look into Masters of Education programs that will also certify you. If you are currently in college, you can look into recruitment programs in various cities or countrywide programs like Teach For America that place you in a high needs school system and help you through your first years of teaching with classes and mentors.
The first step is making the decision of whether or not you want to be a teacher. Once you do, there are many options on how to begin your career.
The United States needs new teachers. Most of all, they need smart, passionate professionals who truly want to make a difference. If this is you, get ready to embark on an exciting and fulfilling new career.