Sunday, July 13, 2008

Students entering Teaching as a Vocation


What do you say to a student that has always wanted to be a teacher? Today many teachers say don't do it. I must admit I always say go for it. It has its ups and downs, but on the whole that "lights go on" moment each class makes it all worthwhile. In every class there is a student that is a bit of a laugh, another that is going astray, another that needs that bit of help. There is no humdrum, there is constant challenge and a sense of putting something into the community.

The only doubt in my mind is how will these kids I encourage be able to afford houses, cars and the creature comforts that makes teaching bearable in the hard times - especially in the early years where the learning curve is vertical.

You won't get rich from it, so if money is a prime motivator perhaps do what I did and make it a second profession. It took close to ten years to set it up such that teaching didn't destroy my finances and allowed me to be in a position to walk away if I hated it or found that I was just useless at it.

I've often said that teaching is a vocation as well as a profession. It would be great to see the community again see it this way. I think sometimes the public sees us as a pack of whinging bludgers with massive amounts of holidays. To this I say imagine sitting in front of an apathetic crowd of thirty people at 45 minute intervals for ten straight weeks. If you don't get your message across these people will feel the consequences for the rest of their lives. They can be hostile at times and actively seek to disrupt you at every opportunity. For the joy of this you have to go to university for four years and then be criticised by the community for any issue that arises. Make a mistake and risk court action.

In management I worked to a ratio of one manager to seven adult staff. We ask teachers to manage different blocks of 30-35 students six hours a day. Teachers use a vast array of management techniques daily and without thinking. You couldn't react fast enough any other way.

I don't know about you but I would suggest the holidays nor the pay is enough. Nor could it ever be enough. I would much rather think that teachers teach because they care for each student and the change that they can make in their lives. I would hope that the community values this and ensures a steady stream of vocationally motivated teachers enter the system.

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