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“Should I become a teacher?”

I originally had a big ol’ post written about why I am going to ask you to answer a question in the comment section…but I deleted it because I did not want to influence your thought process.

So without any explanation, please read the scenario below and answer the question in the comments.  You don’t have to be a teacher to answer.

A teenager walks up to you and asks:

“Should I become a teacher?”

What is your response?   I really need to hear what you would say.

24 comments

  1. Wow, tough question. My answer used to always be YES…but, after 24 years in education, I am not always positive.

    If you love to touch the future in the most profound way possible, the answer is still yes. If it’s all you want to do, yes. If you are wholly committed to making the world a better and more wonderous place, yes.

    However, if you have do not have a high tolerance for idiots in leadership roles, endless meetings, and bizarro rules that make absolutely no sense, my answer is no.

    What was once my dream job has become a careful navigation of rough waters. The people I thought would be leaders are wholly unaware of what good teaching looks like.

    The world of education will be transformed when the passionate, caring, and wonderful teachers are allowed to help make decisions….I am not holding my breath. I am still in the job because I love my students and watching them develop into wonderful adults…and that is all that is left.

  2. I’d ask questions in response-

    When do you feel most alive?
    What made you interested in teaching?
    How easily do you get frustrated?
    Do you need others validating your work often to be willing to work hard?
    What’s your definition of success?

  3. In general, if I do not know the student well, I would say, “If you have to ask such a question (about any possible profession) then I would advise against it.”

    Whatever career one chooses, the desire must be there, and to ask might indicate that it is not really their passion.

    On the other hand, if the student was someone I was familiar with, and they were asking in a scenario like this – They have shown a desire to teach, they have been talking about it for a while, and then they were just asking the question based on the current climate in education, I would say, “Yes. Teaching is what you are here to do.”

    Again, the best profession for anyone is the one that a person cannot not do.

  4. I am responding without reading other comments. I will go back and read that later.

    My answer would be you most definitely should go into teaching if it is your love, your passion, your calling. But be prepared to fight the fight, don’t accept the status quo, and be willing to endure parents, administrators, and other teachers who are all going to tell you not to do what you know should be done.

    Do not go into teaching if you are doing it for the vacations, the hours, or the pay. None of that is payment enough for the hardest work you will ever do.

  5. Assuming it’s someone that I think should be a teacher, the answer is “Yes, and I’m here to support you with anything you need.”

    If it’s someone I don’t think should be a teacher, I’d ask why they’re asking. “What makes you interested in teaching? Why did you come to me?”

    And Meredith’s questions.

  6. It’s a tough question to answer. My brother (who is not a teenager) asked me this question at one point in time and it was easier for me to respond because I knew him.

    In the past, I’ve always asked a lot of questions. I’ve asked why he/she is interested in education. I’ve asked him/her which age group he/she is most interested in and why. I’ve asked how many hours he/she is willing to work a week.

    I’ve shared things that I like and things that I dislike. I’ve shared the fact that it’s a very creative outlet for me, but it also requires a good amount of rational thinking. I’ve shared that it’s easily the most frustrating and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’ve also commented that every day is a new day–and I love that aspect of it. In my previous line of work, it was the same mundane thing all day long. Teaching doesn’t work that way for me.

    But I’ve also shared that it’s a profession that puts one under a microscope. You become a celebrity figure in that all of your actions seem to be scrutinized. You are expected to know everything about your students’ lives, assess their educational capabilities and teach each one of them accordingly.

    Is it frustrating? You bet. In fact, when I was a teenager, my mom told me that I should be a teacher and I told her she was a nutcase.

    It took almost 10 years before I changed my mind, returned to school and found myself at the head of the classroom.

    I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, but I don’t think I knew enough about myself at 18 to make that decision. And now, I see too many teachers who made that decision as a teenager and are now stuck in a field they don’t find fulfilling.

    Hm. So I guess I wouldn’t really be helpful, would I? Maybe it would be more beneficial for the student to watch what I do for a week…

  7. I would ask the student – why do you want to be a teacher?

    If they want to be a teacher because of summers off, short work days, the money, because it is easy, because you love a subject, etc. Then I would say NO.

    If they want to help students be successful, even though many people will set up tons of obstacles to their success. Then I would say YES.

  8. No. Every state government is trying to blame their deficits on teachers. Look at what Christie is doing in NJ. Very upsetting.

  9. Yes, if your passion is to change the lives of young people one day at a time and if you’re willing to see the results of your daily work only years into the future, then yes, you should become a teacher.
    But don’t do it for yourself. Do it for that lonely child whose family is in shambles and your classroom is the only safe place to be. They may not show the appreciation now, and maybe won’t show it ever, but you could be the most important anchor in their lives. Do it for the gifted child who is bored and needs someone thoughtful to pull and push them in new directions. Do it for the kid who always pays attention and does their hardest, no matter what you ask of them. Do it for the ones who resist you at every turn. They all need you.
    Yes, become a teacher. It won’t make you financial rich like your Wall Street friends, but being a teacher will allow you to sleep at night, knowing you are making a real difference in the world (unless you are wide awake, wondering about tomorrow’s lesson plans)

    — Kevin

  10. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was very young. I have not held a formal teaching position as of yet… having finished student teaching in the fall and coming into one of the worst job searching climates in quite some time.

    I would echo the concerns of being dedicated to your students regardless of who they are as a student in your classroom. I have been volunteer tutoring / teaching elements of the critical reading and writing sections of the SAT to a small group of New Haven students one night each week starting in July. I was really able to connect with my students and express concern in the less formal environment… more so than in student teaching.

    I would warn prospective teachers about the “reform” climate we are currently experiencing. Do you want to teach for the sake of teaching and genuine interest… or do you want to teach for a test? The truth is that in eight years students will have to take exit exams for US History and possibly World History / Western Civ… some may see this as progress… but I do not. The end result will be even more formulaic teaching and students who are woefully unable to critically think. In my student teaching experience I had to give department designed exams every three weeks (at the same time as other teachers teaching the course) and I feel as though that construct hurt both my students and I.

  11. Not at this time. There is a good chance you will go through all the hoops to get a credential, only to find there are no jobs. I know three teachers right now, good teachers, who cannot find a job. Unless they leave the state. Florida is hiring, I’ve heard. The work is too hard, the pay too low, and you will be vilified daily in the news.

  12. Geez…I though I would write this post, go on vacation, come back and post my answer. I still don’t have one. An enormous thank you to everyone who offered up a comment, they have given me much food for thought.

  13. As a kid I always wanted to teach, as I grew to a teenager I found that kids were beginning to irritate me at times, but the penny dropped halfway through college when I accepted I would never be a good teacher and lord knows the last thing the system needs is yet another bad teacher.

  14. This post is old, and I don’t know if you are monitoring it any more for comments, but here goes!

    This is the exact same question I am asking myself. I am in the middle of a career change (am 23 years old), and I worked in consulting for a couple of years. I didn’t like it much, and I decided to give teaching a shot because I’ve always been passionate about communicating ideas.

    I’ve spent about 6 months as a volunteer teacher in India now. I did this to get a taste of teaching before committing. And there are many days when I wake up asking: should I continue?

    Luckily, I’ve met with some encouragement on the path. The response of my students is wonderful, and a team of teachers from New York came to visit my school. They offered to mentor me and have been as good as their word. I’m hoping that my applications to US schools might click.

    Why would I say yes? Firstly, because sometimes, a class really clicks. I’ve found my ‘flow’ and the students are completely engaged. Then, there are questions pouring in and we all share the wonder of the idea. What do I mean by that? I mean that we all see the question or need that led to its discovery; the theoretical elegance of it; the impact it has had and continues to have in our daily lives and current global events; the following ideas that owe it their existence; and most importantly, the lines of enquiry it opened. That feeling is just unbelievable! Secondly, because interaction with inquisitive students is balm for the soul.

    Why would I say no? Please keep in mind these are urban India-specific. Money (lack of). Social cool-factor (lack of). Role-model, same-age peers (lack of). Organizational dynamic (lack of; corporate teams can be really exciting, purposeful things). Schools don’t ask us to wear suits. I love suits 🙂

    On the whole, I believe the pros outweigh the cons, and I can get rid of some of those cons by moving out of India for now. I’d rather love my job and do the best I can with my personal life with the money that job can give me; than not love my job and have a ‘terrific’ personal life. It’s been my experience that when you love your job, you’re so much less stressed that you enjoy your time off much more. There’s beauty and wholesomeness in every moment.

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