Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'll Just Be a Teacher

You should get your teaching certificate. That way you'll have something to fall back on! Why don't you just become a teacher? If that doesn't work out, I've always got teaching for Plan B.

Do you know how often I hear or read things like this? It gets very aggravating. What if I said "Well, if this teaching thing doesn't work out, I've always got my medical degree to fall back on!" Or "Teaching didn't do it for me, guess I'll just be a lawyer!" There's a reason people don't say things like that. Doctor and lawyer are considered difficult professions that require a lot of dedication. Guess how I'd describe teaching?

What's even more aggravating is when people say "Oh, you're just a teacher?" Yes. I'm just a teacher. A lowly, underpaid, overworked, very devoted teacher. What are you? Just an astronaut? Just a police officer? Just a human being?

There's also the ridiculous bit of the implication that acquiring a teaching certificate is easy. No, it's really not. I had to complete 36 hours of a masters degree, sixteen weeks of unpaid student teaching and a masters portfolio that consisted of over 200 pages of work generated by me. It wasn't a thesis, but it contained several papers, a variety of lesson plans and materials to use in the classroom. That got me my a limited teaching certificate. To get the real thing, I had to complete KTIP within five years of being hired. Now I have my teaching certificate, but it doesn't work very well as a back up. Why? Because it expires every five years and needs to be constantly renewed.

Then there's the whole bit with the students. If you don't love teaching, students and education in general, you will not make it as a teacher. There's no such thing as teaching for the paycheck. In reality, the paycheck isn't worth some of the things we deal with. I make just over $40,000 a year. For $40,000 a year, I'm expected to deal with students who call me names, get physical with me and other behavior issues. I am also expected to work upwards of a 50 hour work week by taking work home and returning graded assignments for about 100 students in a "timely" manner. Timely is considered within about 48 hours.

Teaching isn't all bad. Teaching is wonderful and fantastic, but I'm a teacher dedicated to students. If I were there simply for the paycheck, disregarding the fact that I would have quit a long time ago, I'd probably hate my job. As it is, the good outweighs the bad for me. My love for my students and education is what helps tip the scales for me.

The next time you hear someone talk about just being a teacher, you'll now understand why teachers get so offended by things like that.


  1. Both of my parents were teachers. My mom still loves teaching -- she teaches reading to 1st graders. My dad burned out after over 20 years of teaching junior high and now works as a kitchen manager for a hospital. My dad actively discouraged me from becoming a teacher and I'm SO glad he did. I am NOT cut out to be a teacher at all. This post is perfect because the problem with many schools is all those people who "fell back on" teaching and aren't there because they love it.

  2. Theatre student are always getting "advised" to get their teaching credential after finishing their theatre degree, because it's so difficult to make a real living off theatre work. That USED to be my plan...until I started working in daycare, saw how children in general are becoming more entitled and untouchable, and realised that I will NEVER be able to put up with the trouble and nonsense that teachers put up with on a daily basis. I CRINGED at the thought of having to deal with undisciplined, pampered hoodlums who take MY Theatre Arts course that I've worked so hard to prepare, just because they think it'll be an easy pass. That's when I decided I'd be a private coach instead. It's different when you know that everyone you're instructing is there because they want to be.


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