This week I another opportunity to sit down with a preservice teacher and answer some questions about the profession and being in the classroom. Read on for the Q&A.
Q: Why did you choose this particular area of specialty? [English, ESOL]
A: I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. I used to force my brother to play school with me every chance I would get. He never wanted to play because I mostly just bossed him around. The only other job I ever wanted growing up was to be a writer. I see myself as a leader and I love my content area, English, so it was a perfect combination of my passions.
Q: What degrees are required to be a professional in this field?
A: To teach, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and valid teaching license. Your work as a teacher will also require professional development, including additional school. If you find that you need to take additional classes, consider working toward a master’s degree. You’ll receive a pay raise if you get the degree and your professional development will be geared toward something useful.
Q: What are the job opportunities?
A: You can teach to begin with. There are also opportunities to tutor, coach sports, and do other various school-related activities. After you have a few years of teaching under your belt, you can consider other roles in the school such as administration or curriculum development, for example.
Q: What do I have to do to be able to teach in other states?
A: Pass their state teacher test. Show them your transcripts and Texas teaching license. You can look up any state’s specific requirements on their Department of Education (DOE) website.
Q: What does it take to reach my professional goals?
A: I think it takes a lot of hard work and determination. There’s a really great TED Talk about the quality “grit”; you should watch it.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of this profession?
A: I think education can be very rewarding. There’s a lot of job security—there’ll always be kids who need to learn. Seeing them learn and grow is an amazing advantage. For me, I like the challenge of working with different students, so I see that as an advantage. You’ll never be bored! Especially teaching middle school. I also like that the school year is 10 months long. It’s nice to finish a year, have a little break to recharge your batteries, and then start fresh again. A disadvantage of the profession is that teaching can be considered an isolating job. You don’t have much interaction with other adults unless you seek out opportunities to collaborate with your fellow teachers—I see this as an advantage though; I can pick and choose when and how to work with other teachers. I also dislike the politics of education. Maybe that’s something that is a personal opinion, but lately it seems like politics are more and more a part of daily teaching in the classroom.
Q: Do you wish you did anything different?
A: No, I love the fact that I’ve evolved as a teacher. I followed my passions and interests as they’ve changed over the years, whether that be teaching ESOL or college students.
Q: Is there anything that you wish you would have known before becoming a teacher?
A: It’s way more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Before I became a teacher, I never thought I could have the same job year after year without growing tired of it. I’ve honestly never had any desire to leave the profession, so that says a lot!
Q: What should I expect from middle school?
A: You’ll be busy! Especially the first year. Sometimes the things you try won’t work out, and that’s okay. The majority of the things you try will work. You can expect middle schoolers to be relatively immature but sweet. When they test your patience, remember they’re still growing and there’s a lot about the world they still don’t know. Use these opportunities as teaching moments.
Q: Do you have any advice for me?
A: I was given a good piece of advice when I started teaching: make sure the kids are working harder than you are. They should be exhausted after a class, not you.
Over plan. If you think your lesson is going to take the entire period, have a backup, just in case. Set the ground rules for your class early on, and enforce them—religiously. If you feel the need to back off on the rules a little bit later, that’s okay, but it’s really difficult to reign students in after you’ve been too lenient. Remember that one bad day doesn’t have to turn into two. The student who drives you nuts the first month of school is almost never the kid who grates on your nerves by the final week. Enjoy yourself. Let your students know you’re happy to be at school and they will, too. You’ll do great!
In case you missed it, see the first preservice teacher interview I conducted here.