A teaching career is highly challenging, intellectually demanding and emotionally rewarding. There are a number of factors that can make working as a teacher quite draining, however, and even the most idealistic and energetic teachers often find their enthusiasm dampened by a variety of unpleasant factors involved in working as a teacher in both public and private schools.
Teachers spend hours with their students every day for a majority of their year. They have a substantial amount of influence on the development and growth of their students. Many children grow up remembering their favorite teachers fondly, and many find that particularly talented teachers gave them opportunities that they may not have otherwise encountered. A teacher's primary job is to elicit a passion for learning from their students--everything else is secondary.
In most teaching situations, one of the primary misconceptions affecting new teachers is the idea that they will be spending most of their time teaching. The reality is different, especially for public school teachers. Many find that they spend as much or more time filling out paperwork, grading school work, dealing with administrators and attending meetings as they do actually interacting with students. Private schools are not insulated from this feature of the occupation, but there are less bureaucratic requirements in such institutions.
One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is dealing with parents. Even parents that aren't angry about something can be difficult to deal with. The influence of a teacher on a child pales when compared to that of a parent, which is something that you should understand clearly before going into the profession. Teachers encounter conflicts with parents over all sorts of things, particularly in the matter of grades. Teachers should develop strong negotiating skills along with a set of principles for dealing with parents fairly and consistently to prevent significant trouble.
Teaching also has its special pleasures. Teachers get to be present when children discover new and exciting things about their world. They also help them untangle challenging problems that might otherwise have kept them stuck at a certain level of intellectual development. It's an opportunity to teach aspects of morality and professionalism that will benefit students for a lifetime.
A teacher who learns to effectively process his own stress and frustration will be far better equipped to thrive in the profession for longer than those who enter it expecting it to be an easy career path. Teachers should manage their expectations well, devoting their resources to where they will be most effective. This doesn't mean ignoring gifted children or lavishing attention on slower ones, but identifying the differing needs of each child while maintaining a positive and engaged classroom atmosphere.
- FoundPhotosLJ, Flickr