It’s a pretty well-known fact that there is a teacher shortage in America’s schools. Job vacancies for educators are opening up across the nation at a rapid rate. There are plenty of factors influencing this, but the bottom line is the U.S. needs quality teachers. It’s a remarkably rewarding profession with a unique set of perks. For the right person, it can be a satisfying and worthwhile venture. However, there are some fundamental aspects to consider if you’re thinking of entering the field of education. It’s beneficial to look at what would not translate well to the classroom. What are some signs teaching is not for you?
There are some specific areas of personality, work ethic, workplace expectations, and career outlook that you should consider before entering the field. The adage of “Those that can’t do, teach” may be true regarding the expertise of a subject, but there is so much more to the occupation than just content knowledge. It requires a particular skill set that goes beyond delivering information. Take a look at this list of five things you cannot be if you’re a teacher. If you find yourself relating to any of these, proceed with caution into the classroom.
You’re Not Flexible
Think Elastigirl meets Stretch Armstrong. The events of a teacher’s day are rarely the same and can be pretty unpredictable. There is a general structure and routine, but within that structure can lurk tiny bits of mayhem waiting to be unleashed upon the most well-made of plans. They can be handled with grace and poise and still allow for a productive day, but teachers have to be mindful that things could change at any moment.
Teachers have to be able to meet the needs of the learners in the classroom academically while addressing other issues simultaneously. With many teachers handling up to 30 students (or more in some cases) at a time, multitasking is a must. There’s a student asking to use the restroom, another student has their head down and needs proximity control, there’s a student asking a question about a concept, someone needs a pencil to get started, one alerts you that the tissue box is empty, and they need to blow their nose. The multiple needs of the students are endless.
Combined with student demands are extraneous tasks that present themselves throughout the day. The urgent email from administration needs to be read, there’s a knock at your door, and it’s a pass for someone to go home, the phone rings with a call from a parent that you must address, you’re presenting the material for your professional learning group this week, and you need to solidify the plan with your department chair.
Thinking on Your Feet
Research suggests that teachers make upwards of 1,500 decisions a day. There are moment-to-moment interactions and occurrences that require immediate attention and action. There’s a lot to consider when you’re trying to decide what’s best for your students in that particular instance.
Some thoughts that must go into decisions that affect students:
- Dynamics and relationships of students with each other
- Cultural and social issues
- Emotional needs of the student
- Eliminating bias
- Safety and security
- The environment and culture expected in the classroom
- School-wide expectations
Rare events can also disrupt the day and prompt a quick decision. They’re not regular, but they do happen, and teachers must deal with them in real-time using sound judgment while keeping safety in mind.
Teachers will probably encounter these during their year:
- Physical confrontations between students
- Emotional outbursts
- Vomiting (or other bodily fluid incidents)
- A defiant challenge to your authority
- Fire alarm or natural disaster warning
- A lockdown
- Contraband items
It’s not uncommon for the most thoroughly thought out, well-researched, perfectly planned lesson to fail. Sometimes students are just not responsive to a lesson’s setup or delivery, and teachers have to modify their approach. This can mean switching directions in the middle of a lesson. It’s also an important consideration before planning even begins to be aware of necessary adaptations that should be incorporated to ensure student success.
Modifications or accommodations are needed to address these elements:
- Learning styles that require visual, auditory, or kinesthetic cues
- Language or learning exceptionalities
- Achievement levels
- The need for remedial or accelerated components
- Materials and resources available
You Don’t Have the Mindset of a Lifelong Learner
Teachers cannot be stuck in their ways. The field of education is innovative and ever-changing. Teachers must be students themselves. The most successful teachers embrace new ideas and approaches and also recognize that learning and development are ongoing.
A big part of that learning is based in the field of technology. There are constant updates to instructional aids and teacher tools. Being a little tech-savvy is certainly a plus when becoming a teacher, but being willing to learn new tech is an absolute.
New advances are made regularly in:
- Learning management systems
- Interactive lesson delivery platforms
- Gradebook programs
- Behavior management systems
- Multimedia presentation software
There are constantly developing theories and strategies regarding best practices for instructional delivery, classroom management, and student success. Often there’s a continual element of research and study involved in improving education, and teachers must continually take steps to be knowledgeable of the latest research that can impact classrooms.
Professional Development and Recertification
Districts have specific expectations for professional development. Often there are a particular number of days or hours that teachers must log in order to meet professional development requirements. Likewise, each state has its own process for maintaining a teaching certificate. This could mean taking college courses, passing a state exam, or attending a certain number of training sessions each year.
You’re Not Self-Motivated
Since there is a lot of top-down control in the field of education, it may come as a surprise that there is an enormous amount of autonomy afforded to teachers. You have to possess the ability to initiate and follow through with tasks on your own. The success of the students, which translates to your success, is largely dependent on your output. There is a lot of intrinsic motivation involved in being a teacher.
Curriculum and Instruction
States or districts often provide standards or benchmarks expected to be taught to students. Teachers often receive curriculum maps or a scope and sequence. However, what you do with that is up to you. The presentation and progression of lessons are based on the style and preference of the teacher. Teachers must be able to plan and execute lessons that meet objectives and specific timelines.
Teachers know when to reach out. Colleagues, administrators, and district personnel are in place to support teachers, but often it takes initiative to get what you need. If you’re not motivated to ask questions, make requests, or learn from and collaborate with others to get the job done, you won’t be successful or happy.
You’re All About Career Advancement
The majority of educators enter the field to be classroom teachers. While there are opportunities for promotion, they almost always lie in leaving the classroom and taking on some kind of administrative position. This doesn’t necessarily align with the reason most individuals choose to enter the classroom. Unlike other professions, there isn’t a clear path to advancement, and it’s likely you’ll focus on instruction for your entire career.
The majority of school districts base their pay on longevity and experience. Many states do offer performance-based bonuses that are determined by test scores, but the overall salary is determined by years on the job. Unlike corporate jobs where your own performance can yield higher pay, the money you make teaching is based on how long you stay and how your students do on tests.
Driven individuals with leadership aspirations do have positions on-site and in their districts. Sometimes these are volunteer positions, but many do come with a stipend or salary bonus to compensate for time; however, they are not like traditional workplace promotions.
You Don’t Have a Thick Skin
Sometimes you have to check your human emotions at the door. It’s hard. Teachers are in a position where building strong relationships and meaningful connections are vital to success; however, with this comes an emotional element.
Sympathy for Students
Homelessness, food insecurity, abuse, and neglect, just scratch the surface of some of the major issues that students face. It’s natural to feel compassion and even heartbreak in some situations. Students can keep teachers up at night. It can be frustrating to come to the realization that there’s only so much you can do for students, especially outside of school hours.
Taking it Personally
While there are countless stories of funny statements students have made in the classroom, sometimes their comments do not come from a place of good intentions. They can be insensitive and, at times, seem downright cruel. The part of the brain responsible for emotional control and decision-making is still developing well into an individual’s twenties. This means, regardless of what grade level, teachers will encounter students who don’t think before they speak or act. Teachers have to be well-informed of the social and emotional development of young people and recognize that their apathy is a part of their immaturity and part of the job.
Obey the Signs
If you’re a motivated multi-tasker that loves learning and can handle emotional hardships, teaching may be right for you. Truly for the right personality type, these characteristics of the occupation make for a stimulating and rewarding career. However, if after taking these five signs into consideration they prompt concern, then teaching may not be for you.
Related Articles – Signs Teaching is Not for You
- What is the Most Difficult Aspect of Teaching Today?
- How to Leave a Teaching Job Gracefully
- Why Do Teachers Leave the Profession?
- What are the Skills Needed to be a Good Teacher?
- The Pros and Cons of Being a High School Teacher
- The Pros and Cons of Being of Teaching Elementary