xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Teaching as a career? Get real!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Teaching as a career? Get real!

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else. Lee Iacocca.

[Legendary American engineer, business man and management guru, Iacocca in the 1960s revitalised  the U.S.motor industry. Among many other things he engineered the iconic Ford Mustang and later on completely revitalised the Chrysler Motor Company which was facing bankruptcy]

Clearly, we do not live in a completely rational society, because the best of us are not all teachers. In fact many young people, trying to decide on their future path, see teaching as a school based job that is not part of  “The real world.” They are looking for a “grown up” job away from school.

Apparently, jobs like selling houses, cars or mobile phones, designing bridges or sitting in front of a computer and moving other people’s stocks and shares between banks is part of the real world. But not teaching, because it takes place in schools and is involved with young people.

To children of course, school is very real indeed. At school they experience the joy of achievement, the humility of defeat, comradeship, generosity, praise, pride, sorrow, anger, frustration, compassion, taunts and abuse, happiness, selfishness and aggression. And that is only half way through  morning recess.

Lee Iacocca recognised the importance of teaching. He knew that teaching was in the real world. He knew that teachers every day, in every school, everywhere, were imparting the knowledge, skills, habits, attitudes and values that society’s  next generation will need in order to lead satisfying, fulfilling and productive lives. That is why he thought that teaching really was the most important thing that anyone could do.

Every day teachers deal with twenty five or more real individuals in their classrooms. In dealing with these unique human beings, the teacher will at various times, and sometimes simultaneously, be an instructor, a guide, a counsellor, a mentor, a judge, a nurse, a psychologist, an actor, a demonstrator, a facilitator, an arbitrator, a detective, a police officer, a doctor, a social worker, a guardian, a provider, a conciliator, a motivator, a philosopher, an entertainer, an artist, a musician and a mother and father all rolled in to one.

It isn’t easy, but for anyone with a desire to nurture the next generation, to pass on the life skills that will be needed by future generations of Australians, it can be a hugely satisfying, challenging and rewarding career. All of us can recall a teacher who has  had a positive impact on our life.

Teaching is not an easy job. Teachers used to be called chalkies. These days they hardly ever use chalk, but they need to be computer literate and have enhanced Information Technology and Communication skills.

If you want to be a teacher you will need to be very literate and numerate. You must be able to gain the attention of your students and then engage them to enthusiastically follow the educational programmes that you have planned. You need to do this throughout the day, with very little time for rest and respite from the constant need to observe, instruct and make decisions about the next course of action. In order to operate effectively in class during the day you will have to  spend several hours, outside of school times, planning and preparing for your next sequence of lessons.

As a teacher you will also need to develop strong inter personal skills so that you can establish a positive rapport with your students, your colleagues and the school administration. You must be able to plan collaboratively and be part of a team. Most importantly you will need to develop strong and positive relationships with your students’ first and most important teachers, their parents. This means that you will have fifty to sixty adults taking a very close look at how you are dealing with their most precious possessions, their own children. Having that many ‘bosses’ can prove to be a daunting task. Successful teachers are highly skilled at getting parents to support them in achieving their class and school goals.

Teaching also provides opportunities for travel, because other countries are always seeking well qualified teachers. You need not confine yourself to English speaking countries such as The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland or The United State of America because China, Japan and other Asian countries are also very keen on acquiring well qualified and effective English speaking teachers.

Above all else, if you want to be a successful teacher you will need, not only high academic qualifications and well developed interpersonal skill, you will also need to be interested and passionate about your teaching. However, it is not sufficient just to like working with children. You need intellectual skills and positive personal traits to be an effective teacher.

Teaching is not for everyone. We do not want everyone. As Lee Iacocca has observed, for our country’s good, we need the best!

Is that you?

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