From: a teacher with a week of experience.
1. Teaching involves more than just liking to teach and be with kids.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my major answer the question, “Why did you choose to major in Elementary Education?” with the reply, “Well, I just LOVE kids!” That is important, and great, and good, but it doesn’t mean that you should be a teacher. Teaching involves SO much more! Yes, I adore my 30 students and I adore teaching my primary class in church, and yes, I feel like I belong more with children than adults, but that isn’t why I became a teacher. I became a teacher so I could make the world a better place. I became a teacher because I wanted to give back. Realize that teaching is NOT as easy as it seems… read on 🙂
2. Teaching is EXHAUSTING.
As I have seen Facebook posts pouring in from all my fellow first-year teachers, there seems to be a consensus. WE ARE EXHAUSTED. Why? No one seems to understand. However, after this week I’m realizing it is because when you are a teacher, there are NO breaks. You want a lunch break? Too bad. You need to help Sally with her bullying problem at recess. Want to sit down? Nope. The second you sit down, Tommy over in the corner will start goofing off again. Want to go to bed early? Fat chance. You’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning planning a lesson that suits every child’s needs. Teaching is more than just a full-time job. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Teacher is your job title, but it involves SO much more.
There are so many times that I have heard fellow teachers say, “That wasn’t in my job description…” You will NEVER be prepared for the range of things that happen in a school day. In one day, I had a child from another class hang onto my legs and say, “I will hug you one thousand times and never let go!” Despite my persistent urging of her to go play during recess, a child confided in me some very sensitive information, a child burst into tears because I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted in class, another student completely ignored everything I said and did not do a thing all day, all while trying to administer 29 reading tests. Now if you learned how to deal with all that in your classes… I need to find out what program you are in and go back to school! Being a teacher means being an educator, a nurse, a parent, an advocate, a police officer, a lawyer, a projector specialist, a janitor, a teddy bear, a comforter, a debater, and whatever you are outside of school as well.
4. Things aren’t always what they seem–especially in the classroom.
These kids in my class, all 30 of them, are wonderful. They are amazing and can do great things, yet the one thing I think they know how to do best is push my limits. One student in particular said something very offensive to me on the second day of school. My first instinct was to take the child out and talk to him very sternly about what he had said. But I calmly sent him in the hallway. When I went out to talk with him, he had big tears in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong. Come to find out, this boy has been told all throughout school that he is a “bad boy.” So when you want to give someone what they deserve in your classroom, give them the benefit of the doubt and really figure out what is going on.
5. You will NEVER regret your decision to be a teacher.
Sitting through three years of Elementary Education classes seemed like an eternity to me. When I started my degree, I honestly believed I would be married and have a kid before I graduated. Now here I am, an internship away from graduation. On the first day of my internship, I announced to my students that our class theme would be “This is going to be the best day of my life.” I promised them that each day would be the best day of their lives in my class, each day would be better than the last. At the end of the day, I didn’t expect the kids to even remember or to be impacted by what I said. Suddenly, years of schooling all became worth it when one boy looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Lyon, this really WAS the best day of my life!” Mission accomplished.
So, this post isn’t meant to scare you, it is meant to help you see the realities of teaching. No matter what anyone says, teaching is NOT an easy job. Never fall for that. Teaching will be the hardest, most rewarding job you will have yet (aside from parenting). As David O. McKay said, “The privilege to work is a gift. The power to work is a blessing. The love of work is success.”
This was another blog post from our wonderful guest blogger, Jessica Lyon. Jessica is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning. See her previous posts here and here.