You’ve heard about teaching and you’re interested, but how do you know if you should take the plunge and sign on for the best job I’ve ever had?
One: You like young people
Young people can be challenging. Adolescence is a time of rolled eyes, defiance and rebellion on the search for identity and meaning in life. It’s also a time of turmoil and depression for many as they stumble through family breakups, breakups and friendship bustups. This can mean that students are not always on their best behaviour. I’ve had my share of snickering girls, eye rolls, casual punches and arguments in the classroom.
But, adolescence is also an exciting time in life. It’s the time when we start to form our own identities – we start to think independently and branch out on our own. To be part of this time and this transformation is a privilege and a wonder.
Two: You like excitement
Srsly, there is always something going on. It. Never. Stops. But I like it. I don’t think that I’ve ever worked as intensely as I have in a high school. There are questions to answer and children to monitor, detentions to remember and lesson to plan. There are always new challenges and frequent crises. But, and I have heard this from teachers who have been teaching for 40 years, you never get bored. If you want freedom from boredom, teaching is for you.
Three: You love an intellectual challenge
Teaching is often characterised as an easy option in popular culture – the old adage “those that can’t do, teach” put me off for years. But this has been one of the most intellectually challenging jobs that I’ve ever had. Trying to work out exactly how and why (or why not) young people learn is a puzzle I love to try to solve every day. As Tolstoy might have said if he had written about education – “expert students are all alike, but every failing student is failing in their own way” – and it’s a teacher’s job to find that out and fix it.
In examining the work of my students, I have also come to a greater and deeper understanding – and I’m a better writer. If you want to think hard and deeply every day, consider teaching.
Four: You like holidays and hard work
Holidays – they are fantastic and the envy of my non-teacher friends. But you have to accept the valley for every peak and hard work during term time can mean long hours correcting work, planning lessons and reading up on subjects you need to teach, in the evenings, early mornings and on weekends. If you can handle this roller coaster of intensity, teaching is for you.
Five: You want to make a difference to people’s lives right now
Every single day you have the chance to make hundreds of students’ lives better by raising their expectations and ambitions, giving them more power by sharing your knowledge and by letting them know that you care. Every single day.
Plus one: You like to laugh
Every single day someone will say something hilarious to you. Every single day.
So, you’ve read this and you’re still interested, then it’s time to investigate more. Things you should do are:
- Speak to your teacher friends or ask Teach For Australia to put you in contact with a teacher who is like you. Ask lots of questions about what it’s like day to day as well as what long term impact you can have.
- See if you can visit a school. This might take a bit of hard work and filling in forms, but the best way to find out about teaching is to see it in action.
- Apply to Teach For Australia.