As a prospective educator completing my final year of teacher’s college, I am overly excited to enter the professional world of teaching and serve as a positive role model for all of my future students. For those of you who have not pursued teaching as a future career or do not have a family member who is a teacher, you may simply think that teachers show up to class, use curriculum documents and guidelines to teach, and then test. I can honestly say that when I attended elementary and secondary school, I had this perception of teachers as well. However, as I complete the teacher education program and my basic disclosure, I realize that teaching is undeniably the hardest profession to ever exist.
Reason 1: The day never ends
Wow, pursuing a career as a teacher sounds great, right? Working hours are 8:00-3:00 pm, allowing us to beat rush hour traffic and prepare a lavish meal for family or ourselves. Or how about all the holidays? March break, summer, and two weeks at Christmas. Let me tell you that this is not the reality of a teacher’s schedule. In addition to teaching in the classroom between the hours of 8:00-3:00 pm, you are also volunteering your time before/after school hours to support extracurricular activities that provide students with opportunities to explore their passion and interests. After coming home from the extracurricular activities or events, teachers have to plan their lesson for the subsequent day. In order to be an effective teacher, you can’t simply plan all of your lessons in advance assuming that everything will go to plan. Each day requires reflection on what worked well and what didn’t. I haven’t even mentioned all of the preparation that goes into unit planning, the creation of final assignments/projects, evaluation, and assessment. So, next time you think that teachers have it easy, keep these things in mind.
Reason 2: Promote student learning
Now a mediocre teacher will walk into the classroom, teach from the textbook and hope that his/her students understand the material. An effective and caring teacher will ensure that each and every student wants to learn, and will go above and beyond to make sure learning happens. No longer are the days in which teachers stand at the front of the classroom and lecture students. Rather, the classroom is flipped, in which teaching and learning are a shared practice between the teacher and students. If we want students to get excited about learning, we have to ditch the old-school style of teaching and pass the power over to the students through project-based learning, class discussions, and students becoming experts on specific topics. As teachers, we also have to ensure that everything we use is relevant to keep the students engaged. How many of us remember the days where we sat in class and the teacher popped in an old VHS education video with the subtitles and we were quizzed on it afterward… complete torture. Instead, use relevant topics such as issues that Indigenous groups are facing in Canada, the American election, climate change, and celebrity or sports topics to enhance learning.
Reason 3: You are more than a teacher to most of your students
Personally, I believe this is the most crucial role teachers have. Aside from the academic learning, teachers are supporters, role models, second parents, counselors, confidants, and preachers. With students spending a good portion of their day in the care of their teachers, educators have to do so much more than just teach. With increasing awareness of mental health, teachers have to ensure that their classroom is inclusive and a safe space where all students feel like they can voice their concerns without being judged or disrespected. Building good rapport with one’s students and being approachable is required before students will even want to sit down and listen to their teacher or want to cooperate in a learning environment. You have to show that you genuinely care.
Reason 4: Each student is unique
Lastly, teachers have to accommodate EACH and EVERY student in their classroom. If we can agree that we all have our differences, then it doesn’t make sense that EACH and EVERY student will understand the lesson, right? As a result, teachers have to use differentiated instruction to make sure that each of their lessons meets the needs of all learners. We have visual-spatial learners, bodily-kinaesthetic learners, music learners, interpersonal/intrapersonal learners, linguistic learners, mathematical learners etc. When crafting lesson plans, activities, assignments/projects, teachers have to make sure they are including elements that accommodate every learner that steps into their classroom. In addition to multiple learners, each student learns at their own pace and teachers have to either offer extra assistance to those who are having difficulty with the content, or challenge those who are bored with the content.
Believing that teachers have it easy is a disgrace to the profession. Teaching is not only a profession – it is a passion that individuals practice for the rest of their lives. It involves patience, creativity, expertise, positivity, compassion, empathy, and love. I am excited to graduate as a hero first, and an educator second.
Featured Image via screengrab from Freedom Writers.