Are you currently or about to start studying to become a teacher?
It can be a very daunting and yet exciting thing. Let me start by congratulating you! Teaching is an absolutely incredible career.
Sure it has it’s ups and downs, and both of these things can be pretty extreme, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a job as rewarding and as novel as being a teacher.
If you’re studying teaching, you’ve most likely attended school yourself (don’t forget, many people are home-schooled these days!). Be prepared to have your perceptions of the education system turned upside-down, and to finally see behind the curtain of what life as a teacher is really like.
Here is some of the absolute best advice and tips for your journey through your teaching degree.
Pick at least one teaching area that is demand, that way you are more attractive as a potential employee. Sure there are world-wide teacher shortages, but you may as well make yourself stand out as much as you can to secure a job in the location you are after! If you’re not sure what teaching areas are in demand, or how you can get yourself into that arena, speak with your university – they’ll point you in the right direction. And if it’s an area you are actually quite interested in, but don’t have perhaps the necessary pre-requisites, remember that you can always upskill before, during, and after your teaching degree.
Take Your Assignments Very Seriously
Accept The Importance of Both Theory and Prac
Trust in the Experience of Teachers Before You
Don’t Let Others Get You Down
Keep your enthusiasm – don’t let more experienced teachers drain it out of you through their cynicism and negativity (unfortunately there can be a lot of that going around, particularly after these past couple of incredibly difficult years). It’s extremely easy to get sucked into a negative spiral about teaching, especially if you read the media or comments sections on articles about our profession. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.
Look Out For Yourself
Stick to your guns and advocate for yourself if and when needed. This includes during your degree, your placements, and when you first start working. This is the perfect time to start learning which battles are worth dying on a hill for, and which are not. This is a skill you’ll need in abundance with your own students, so start applying it to yourself too. Think through likely outcomes, ask for advice, and remember that if worst comes to worst, there are always other schools (or professions) out there.
Find Your Own Style
Diversify Your Own Experiences
Do your placements at different schools each time so you can gain wider experiences. Every school has it’s own way of doing things, every teacher has their own way of doing things. Only by experiencing them can you truly decide what works best for you.
Don’t Recreate the Wheel, But DO Find Joy in Creation
Remember That Students are Students, Not Friends
Remember What it was Like in the Classroom
Find a Good Mentor
Use Social Media for Good
Find good and supportive teacher groups on Facebook (and by that I mean un-follow any group that tends toward drama and negativity – you’ll get enough of that in the classroom!). Follow like-minded educators on Twitter. Be wary of picture-perfect Instagram teaching accounts – in my experience they tend to be the type of teachers who care more about aesthetics than the actual impact (or even the scientific evidence) of what they’re doing. Room decoration, for example, is a massive thing on Instagram, but depending on the individual students in your class, what you put up may be extremely distracting and/or detrimental to them.
It’s OK if it isn’t for You
If you get partway through your teaching degree and realise you don’t actually like the job, that’s perfectly ok! Plenty of people do, you certainly aren’t alone. At this point you have two options – jump ship into something more suited to you, or complete the degree and find a job in an area linked to education that isn’t in the classroom – see this list here for examples.
Have Some Fun With It!
Teaching is the craziest, most dynamic job you’ll ever do. And that’s why so many of us love it. Let yourself actually enjoy the degree, enjoy the placements, and enjoy the job. It’s so easy to convince yourself you’re supposed to hate it because the media does, and so many people have such negative views of teachers. But that definitely doesn’t need to form your teaching persona or practice. If you love it, you love it!