The start of a new school year and the start of a new job: that’s all been happening for me this past week. By this time I’ve been teaching for over 8 years and those 8 years have been a rocky ride. Especially the past year was tough and at times I doubted whether being a teacher was still my thing. I forgot why I liked it because I was working in conditions that weren’t right for me, personally. Through lots of soulsearching I found that it’s not the teaching itself I wasn’t liking anymore, but the actual job I was teaching at. How I knew? Very simple: after a few months I started missing my students and working with a group of people towards a new goal.
With my background and education I could work a ton of different jobs. I could make much more money, travel more or work in industries that require me to use a completely different skill set. As I was doubting continuing my career as a teacher, I tried to figure out what other jobs would suit me. While I brainstormed different job ideas and listed why I would want to do those jobs, my main conclusion always was: because I’m working with people and in one way or another help them. That’s when I started to realize that I actually love being a teacher.
My one condition for any job I would want to work is that I am somehow helping others. And you are doing that a lot when you’re teaching. In my experience, the most valuable moments have not been while I’m standing in front of a group of students and am actually doing the teaching. No, it’s the one-on-ones, the private chats after class or the epiphany moments of individual students that make being a teacher worthwhile.
While thinking things through, I also realized that I couldn’t think of a more challenging job than being a teacher. And I love a good challenge. As a teacher you always fulfill several different roles at once. From language instructor, to should to cry on, to psychologist, to dyslexia specialist to general support system: each students has different needs and depending on how they interact with you as a teacher, you will fulfill whichever role suits the situation. It requires you to think out of the box, stay on your toes and interact with a diverse group of people.
Moreover, being a teacher allows me to talk about something I love. The best way to work directly within your field of your studies is by becoming a teacher in your area of expertise. I chose to study English because I love the language, its culture and its literature. In the 8 years I’ve been teaching I’ve taught classes in all these fields. From sociolinguistics (the field of studies I graduated in), to grammar, to communication skills and Edgar Allen Poe: all the skills I picked up through my studies and my own interests have somehow popped up in my classes.
Teaching can be quite draining, but overall I find that it gives me a lot of energy. If you click with a group of students, they can provide you with great input and 9 out of 10 times I come out of a class feeling and being hyper. What most people don’t realize is that teaching isn’t just sending information into people’s brains, but that a good class involves an exchange of information and interaction. Often I find myself getting sidetracked by student questions as they provide you with an angle or point of view you hadn’t thought of before yourself.
Provided I work in the right environment, that allows me to explore my other interests (such as blogging) alongside my job, education is actually the job for me. For a long time I thought that teaching would be something I’d do for a few years before I’d try my hands on something else. But the thing is: I love it too much and from what I’m told, it’s something I’m good at too, so why not stick with it and see where it will take me?
Just this week I started a new teaching job and I’m looking forward to getting started and seeing my new students. I worked at the job before so I know most of my colleagues already and even some of the students as it wasn’t too long ago I was there. To top things off, I’m doing something I now know again is something I love to do. So I’m excited to start the new year and get this thing back on the road.
What do you love about your job?
I wrote some other blog posts about teaching in the past. As I was trying to figure out why I became a teacher in the first place, I found these and it’s what inspired this post. So in case you’re wondering, you can find those here:
The pros and cons of being a teacher
2 responses to “Being a teacher 2.0”
I also teach, and I woild say that it is the inefficiency of the educational system and structural lack of funding that make it far more stressful than it needs to be. Working with students is indeed a joy, and I love the synergy between teachingg and research that is part of my job. It would just be so much more fulfilling if I could get a steady contract and more reasonable hours. Teaching two courses means 20 contact hours a week, and then I have to prepare lectures and written feedback as well, all on a 28 hour contract. Not sure who did the math on that one…
I hear ya! And you’re forgetting emails, meetings, and everything else you have to somehow put into your week as well. And then to think that general opinion is that being a teacher is a job for lazy people.