Teaching can be immensely fulfilling work. The idea of shaping young minds and guiding kids toward their own futures (not to mention having summers off) leads a lot of people into the teaching field. However, not everyone is cut out for this kind of work. The last thing you want is to discover that you aren’t up to the task while standing in front of a class your first day on the job. It’s best to decide whether or not you’re teacher material before even pursuing a degree in education.
Here are 5 issues that may make you decide that teaching is not for you.
1. You’re not adaptable.
One plus one will always equal two. The alphabet will always start with A and end with Z. World War II will always begin in 1939. The information you teach may never change, but the way you teach it certainly will. Perhaps your particular administration will demand you rewrite that lesson plan you submitted or the school’s curriculum has changed. Perhaps what works for a class of well-behaved students will not work for an unruly one. A teacher must be able to adapt to any number of predictable and unpredictable situations. If you don’t think you’re sufficiently flexible, then teaching probably isn’t for you.
2. You don’t like homework.
Your students won’t be the only ones who’ll have tons of homework. A teacher’s workday rarely ends at the sound of the bell. There will be papers and tests to grade and lesson plans to prepare. Excited to have your summers off? Well, don’t get too excited, because your summers will be spent doing professional development work and getting ready for the next school year.
3. You are not 100% comfortable with kids.
As they say, kids can be cruel. And they don’t just pick on each other. Students may have it in for their teachers as well, and the monkey-see-monkey-do nature of the classroom may lead good kids to mimic the behavior of the bad ones. Before you know it, your class is out of control and it’s your job to rein it in. Some people have an innate ability to do this. They are natural-born teachers. However, if the thought of playing zookeeper to a room full of squealing, nasty (and perhaps even insulting) young people sounds terrible to you, you may want to choose another career path.
4. You want to get rich.
Do you want to make loads of money? Well, you aren’t going to get rich as a teacher. The average starting salary of a teacher in the U.S. is just $36,000, and teachers can spend hundreds of out-of-pocket dollars on class supplies. That isn’t to say that the job is not rewarding in countless other ways, or that the worth of a job is measured by the amount of a paycheck, but if making bank is your ultimate goal you’ll unfortunately have to look elsewhere.
5. You can’t deal with parents.
Maybe you love the kids… but the parents? Not so much. This can be a real problem, since a teacher’s job often involves managing parents. When it comes to their children’s educations, parents can get pretty emotional or downright out of control. You might have a mom yelling at you or a dad breaking down in tears. Upping the “ick factor,” a parent might even hit on you. Such situations are tricky to navigate, and you never want to blame the student for a parent’s inappropriate behavior. If you become a teacher because you think kids are a dream and adults are a nightmare, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when you have to deal with both on a regular basis.