“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” John F. Kennedy
Many people are called to teaching for a variety of reasons: job security, benefits, vacations and find that teaching is not what it all seemed to be. Most teachers do not start and end their day at the bell. Although this is drilled into each teacher during teacher training classes, many still think it is a 9-5 or a 7-3 job. The long hours in and out of the classroom are well worth it if you love what you do. So here are a few not-so-secret secrets about the commitment demands of the teaching profession you may want to consider before stepping into that classroom. Teaching is way too important for teachers not to want to be there.
The eight hours you are at school are spent with your students, and sometimes someone else’s students. Even your planning and lunch time are not enough time to adequately plan, prepare and evaluate your lessons. You will spend time before school, after school, on weekends, and if you are a very good teacher, during your vacation researching, planning, preparing and evaluating.
Remember you and your colleagues have the same limited time to use the copy machine(s), restrooms, microwave, etc. Don’t think you are more important then they are. They will only resent you.
You will also have to set aside your own time for professional development. Many schools provide some enrichment for their teachers, but it is usually not enough to satisfy state regulations. Try taking a class out of your realm of expertise. If you are an English teacher, take a class in web design or robotics — you may be able to incorporate it into your lessons.
In addition to the time commitment, you should be prepared for the emotional commitment to your students. You should feel a need to improve their academic skills in addition to building relationships.
Be prepared to attend the after-school sports games, drama performances, and chess matches. The students notice and most are appreciative. This goes a long way in establishing that coveted rapport. It shows you care.
You need to be flexible. Anything can happen to disrupt your lesson plans: a fire alarm, a holiday concert, a field trip that is not yours that takes out half your class, or something as silly as a child getting his arm stuck in a chair (this actually happened). Just know that the end of the world is not coming and move on when you can.
The most overlooked commitment is the actual hunt for a teaching position. Be committed to take any position offered. It is your foot in the door. You may monitor study hall for three periods, have lunch duty for two hours and teach one class that you are not certified to teach. Do it anyway. You will get to know the school, teachers, and kids. You never know, your ideal position could be waiting just around corner.