I recently discovered a social networking site for educators called edWeb.net. While perusing the site’s first-year teacher message board, I came across a thread that I think is worth reposting here. The original post is from a reluctant “future teacher” who is in the final stages of completing his certification and having second thoughts about his choice to become a teacher.
If you are a first-year teacher, or even a veteran teacher who is feeling discouraged, I think you may find some comfort in what these veteran teachers have to say.
“I'm a future teacher just finishing the first term of my masters/certification program—and I'm terrified. It seems like every day in class we talk more about how broken the system is, how hard it is to work within it, and how hard it is to change anything.
Everything I hear about the profession is that teachers are undervalued and stressed about assessments and just worn out by everything. I was really excited about becoming a teacher and maybe making a difference for even just a few kids—but everything I'm hearing is just leaving me more and more discouraged and apprehensive. And this is before I've even started my student teaching! Does anybody have any advice or words of encouragement? Is it worth all the hard stuff?”
“Don't be discouraged. Sometimes all you hear are the bad things and not the good. People are upfront with many issues, but they are well worth fixing. To just change one life is great! Teachers aren't undervalued at every school. Give student teaching a chance and see what it's like. Although substitute teaching is a different experience than having a class of your own, it will certainly help you get a feel for what teaching is like.”
“Do not be afraid! This profession, like all others, requires a spirit of resilience and hope! You mention you want to "help even just a few"—you will "help" hundreds, thousands in ways you may never know! I've been in the trenches for years and it can feel like a “war zone” for both teachers and students. But YOU/WE are offering a way out: Education. Hold on!
I get to laugh every day because I hang with young people. Every day I am creative and challenged. There is NOTHING I would rather do with my life.
Try to find someone at your school who is willing to listen to you and give you advice you won't get from administration. Sometimes it helps just to talk; you don't need answers all the time. Such a person is hard to find. But reach out, especially your first year. There are people who will extend a hand back. Maybe someone from a graduate class, even a fellow student teacher. And, after you've been at it a few years, approach the new teacher in the building and offer her/him support.
So there is it. Please feel free to share your own words of wisdom in the comments section. If you could give a reluctant teacher one piece of advice, something you wish you'd have known when you started, what would it be?