Dr. R. J. Kizlik
Updated March 21, 2008
Some people, from the time they are in first grade, know they want to be teachers. For others, the idea can be a sudden insight, or a feeling that ferments for years in some remote corner of their consciousness. Regardless of where the idea comes from, for many, the images associated with becoming a teacher are compelling.However, as is often the case in life, the differences between images and reality can be stark and unsettling. This is the reason for this page.
We all know that as the "Baby Boomers" retire and leave teaching in large numbers over the next ten years, probably more than a million new teachers will be needed to replace them, let alone hundreds of thousands needed to keep pace with the anticipatedgrowth of student populations. Perhaps you will be one of these new teachers Perhaps not. Please read on.
For lack of a better way to say it, this page is about some basic teacher-things. For sure, not every person who wants to be a teacher should be a teacher. There is a vast gulf between the ideal of teaching and the reality of the classroom. Teaching probably won't make you rich, and, to be sure,no one should make any career decision without gathering as much information as possible. Tips on becoming a teacher is a start.
Teaching is like no other profession. As a teacher, you will wear many hats. You will, to name but of a few of the roles teachers assume in carrying out their duties, be a communicator, a disciplinarian, a conveyor of information, an evaluator, a classroom manager, acounselor, a member of many teams and groups, a decision-maker, a role-model, and a surrogate parent. Each of these roles requires practice and skills that are often not taught in teacher preparation programs. Not all who want to be teachers should invest the time and resources in teacher training or teacher preparation programs if they do not have the appropriate temperament, skills, andpersonality. Teaching has a very high attrition rate. Depending on whose statistics you trust, around forty percent of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years. It is obviously not what they thought it would be. One thing for sure, it's about more than loving kids.
Make no mistake; as a teacher, your day doesn't necessarily end when the school bell rings. If you're conscientious, you will beinvolved in after school meetings, committees, assisting students, grading homework, assignments, projects, and calling parents. All these demand some sacrifice of your personal time. If you're committed to excellence as a teacher, it's a sacrifice you can live with. If not, you will be uncomfortable at best.
Teacher training and teacher preparation programs exist in every state, as well as invarious forms of on-line courses and degree programs, and the requirements vary. You will have many options from which to choose. Choose wisely. My own advice is to select a program that offers a rich and solid foundation of courses, regardless of whether you intend to teach at the elementary, middle school, or high school level. I believe that no teacher education program, including the one inwhich I teach, can actually teach you how to teach. Rather, what we do is get you ready to learn how to teach, and that takes place on the job. My advice is to choose a program that offers a rich balance of subject matter content courses and pedagogy, including clinical experience in all its forms. You are learning both skills and understandings in any teacher education program. Practice those skillsas perfectly as possible, and strive each day to deepen your understandings of the concepts, theories and generalizations that you encounter. By doing so, you will build a solid foundation for learning how to teach once you become employed, and, you will be a better teacher.
From my own teaching experience and from discussions and teaching many hundreds of teachers and thousands of teacher...