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Decide if Teaching is Right for You Is teaching the right career for you? Being a teacher isn’t for everyone, but it may be the perfect career for you. Are you contemplating getting into a career in teaching but need some advice about what the career is all about? The teaching profession can be challenging and does not come with a high paying salary, though it can come with high rewards. A. Characteristics Teachers Need B. 10 Reasons to Become a Teacher C. Why Teach? D. Transitioning Into a Career in Education A. Characteristics Teachers Need Being a teacher isn’t for everyone. Teaching does not come with a high salary, though it can come with high rewards. Many skills are required to become successful in a classroom. If you are selecting education as your first or second career, there are several qualities that are helpful to possess. Ask yourself the following questions. Do you like people? I know the question may seem simple, but it is important that teachers like people. No teacher sits at a desk in isolation all day. The day is spent interacting with people. Spend lots of time with children of different ages. Find the age level that you are most comfortable working with. You’ll be spending the majority of your day with students, and liking them will help your classroom stay a happy place. Can you be calm in any situation? Classrooms can go from stillness to chaos in a matter of seconds. It is important that teachers have a handle on their emotions. Children, parents, or faculty may yell at you or each other. Staying calm and responding calmly will help you stay professional and balanced. Are you fair? There might be a student in your classroom that successfully becomes the “teachers pet.” However, every student in your class needs to be assessed by their performance skills, not on their personality. Establish rules and follow them to be considered a fair teacher. Students will find it hard to argue with a teacher who is always fair. Can you see situations from different views? You classroom may be a melting pot of the town you teach in. There might by many different ethnic or socio-economic groups represented in your class. Students might also be diverse in their learning habits, speech or motor skills. The ability to see every student and their unique perspective is an important skill in teaching; every student should have the chance to understand the lesson. Are you confident about sharing your knowledge? Whether it is math or music, teachers need to know their content area and be confident in sharing it. Teachers are leading student learning all day. It is easier to command attention when you know what you’re talking about. Some teachers experience nerves at first when appearing before a class. Never fear, you will get over it. Can you manage time effectively and with flexibility? The school day goes by fast. In order to organize lessons effectively, it’s important to manage time effectively. A meaningful lesson can be taught in any amount to time, but there’s more to the school day than one lesson. Being flexible with time and organizing lessons is key to achieving student performance goals. B. 10 Reasons to Become a Teacher Wondering why you should become a teacher? Ask a teacher and you’ll get lots of great reasons! Here are ten reasons to get you started. 1. TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE When just one child’s life has been altered positively because of you, you’ve can feel proud that you have made a difference. 2. TO HAVE THE SUMMER OFF It’s one of the perks of being a teacher. Each year is a new experience that can be met after a little rest and relaxation. 3. TO IGNITE THE FIRE Pass your passion on to children and watch their curiosity catch fire. 4. TO FIND SUCCESS Watching students succeed at simple or complex tasks is an experience you can be a part of every day. Every student has the opportunity to succeed, no matter how small the goal. 5. TO BE VIRTUOUS You might get to be the only presence of kindness, patience, or understanding in a student’s life each the day. 6. TO AFFECT THE FUTURE Influence the next generation by sharing your knowledge. You are the leader of your classroom, and with that power comes responsibility and opportunity to shape minds and ideas. 7. TO BE GLOBAL Help today’s youth find beauty and respect for diversity. 8. TO HAVE JOB SECURITY Once you have met the requirements to become a teacher and have proven your success, it’s steady work. Teachers are in demand! 9. TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN Serve the youth of your community and country by contributing your time and talents. Help students understand their full potential. h4. 10. TO STAY YOUNG Being with students all day helps teachers of any age stay connected to current events and trends. Students are creative and energetic creatures that will keep you on your toes. You’ll find something to make you laugh every day. C. Why Teach? I went to my 20th high school reunion this weekend. One of my friends, Charles, told me that he could see that I really cared about the success of my students. Another was encouraged by my efforts and said, “that’s what the world needs, more committed teachers!” The thing is, other than sharing the fact that this was my 10th year in the classroom, I didn’t tell them anything about what or how I do what I do. Their comments, while enjoyed by my ego, confounded me. How did they know I cared about my students? How did they know that I was committed to my service? Teachers are definitely a breed apart. True we are made, and not created, but it seems like you can always tell a good teacher when you see one, even if you don’t see them teach. I ran into an old student of mine at the car wash earlier that day. She shared with me her desire to teach. I encouraged her because I knew already that she would make a great teacher. Her personality is inviting, she seems naturally kind and patient, she doesn’t judge but instead shares a warm smile. She will be a great teacher regardless of subject matter or grade level. I could see that in her, just like my friends could see it in me. But I haven’t always been able to see it in myself. The “it” being the qualities and energy of a good teacher. I reflect on my teaching, but usually my reflections display all the things I need to fix, or don’t do very well. Still, I endure, and continue to work at improving myself because I just love what I do, and couldn’t dream now of doing anything else. However, teaching was not my first choice. I did not see myself as a teacher when I was younger. Other people did: my father and my wife. They suggested I try teaching; and it was a good fit. But what makes teaching a good fit for me? And why do I fit teaching? Have you ever asked yourself why you teach? For some, the answer is obvious. They teach because that is what they have always wanted to do. For others, they teach because teaching provides a steady paycheck and great benefits. Still others are called by some higher authority to spend their days wiping noses and answering the same question three or more times an hour. If we are to be successful teachers, teachers who change lives, we have to look deeper than the desire, the paycheck, or the calling. I think we have to look deep within ourselves and recognize that not only does the world need great teachers, role models willing to give selflessly, but that we too have a need to play the role or inspirer, sage, and friend. Not everyone needs to know that their efforts are meaningful. But I do. I gave up pursuing a career in television because I didn’t want to spend my time away from my family selling soap. It was fun, but empty. Teaching allows me to make the world around me a better place. I regularly see alumni who tell me that the time spent in my class made a difference to lives and changed them in some way. Not all my students, but many share the same experience. Is there something I do directly that changes them? I’m not sure. Like Charles said, it is very important to me that my students are successful. I don’t know yet exactly how that plays out in my classroom, but it is at the top of my list of priorities. As my other friend pointed out, I am completely committed to my students success, but what does that look like? The answer is that it is different for different teachers. But one thing is certain, if you are not invested in your student’s success, and if you are not committed to them, then I have to ask you, why teach? D. Transitioning into a Career in Education Have you been sitting back recently, contemplating your future and where you are headed? Are you thinking about changing your career, but not exactly sure where to start? Well, I’m here to tell you that you are certainly not alone. As a Certified Career Coach and Resume Writer, I often work with individuals who are looking for a rewarding career change, guiding them on their path to a successful life change. When you have discovered that your once-rewarding and satisfying job no longer provides you with the same excitement and enthusiasm, it may be the time to consider a career change. Complete commitment to this pursuit will open you up to endless career possibilities. During the course of my career I have worked with many individuals who wanted to change careers and embark on a new challenge, teaching children. I have heard many reasons why mid-career changers are drawn to a career in education, and have ventured to list a few examples. 1. Giving Back to Society: Many successful professionals have often embraced a career in teaching in order to “give back” to society. They often want to teach the real-world experiences they have learned through hands-on participation in a particular field. 2. Mentoring & Guiding: Often career changers choose teaching as a means to coach and lead today’s youth and foster in them a passion for learning. 3. Sharing Knowledge & Passion: I have found that most career changers bring a high level of enthusiasm and dedication as new educators, combined with a solid understanding of diverse subject material. Beginning the search for a new career can be overwhelming and a bit frightening, to say the least. However, here are a few things that you will want to consider before embarking on your journey: 1. Retraining & Professional Development: Going back to school will give you a chance to learn your new career and provide you with a greater understanding of the role and how to sustain employment within that area. 2. Interchangeable Skills: Take a solid look at your skills and determine those that can be applied across different careers. For example, teachers must possess the ability to be creative, organized, disciplined, and self-directed; if you have these skills, showcase them. 3. Maximizing Your Skill Set/Your Resume: Your resume must emphasize your relevant past career achievements and contributions; be proud to list each and every one. Learn what a school district is looking for in their teachers; their goals and objectives and where they are headed. Once you have drafted your resume, get feedback from someone you trust. 4. Envision the Position: You may want to envision how you look in the role of your new position, working within that venue day after day. Ask yourself, What parts of the job do I like the best? Am I really interested? Performing this exercise may help you find your right career path. Focus on the skills you enjoy using the most, and build a career based soundly on your passions and your dreams. The process of looking for and finding your new career is a huge opportunity for you to develop deeper self-awareness, and it may just be the thing that supercharges your zest for life.