Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Teaching as a Career?

Image source: Clipartion.
It is reported by Kevin Doyle in the Irish Independent today: "Almost 400 new college spots created amid demand for teaching courses". This is an announcement to encourage more students to enrol in primary and second level teaching courses - particularly for STEM subjects. This is partly to address "severe shortages of teachers in some subjects", but also in response to the "number of students starting secondary schools is increasing". Good planning I think you'll agree, though the extra places will bring the "number of places to more than 1,000" - I hope this is enough!

Why does anyone want to be a teacher? For those intending to go into primary level, they mostly have to make the choice as an 18 year old in sixth class in school. For second level, you have to get a degree first and then go into teacher training. For third level, there is no training - but it will take at least 6 to 7 years to get a PhD before you can become a lecturer. In the past I have heard people say that teaching was a "vocation" - I don't know anybody who believes this. Some people will have always wanted to be a teacher, while others (like me) will end up doing it in a roundabout route. Like every profession - you have to want to do it.

My advice to students thinking of a career in education is that it is well worth the effort. The personal rewards are great - though you won't get rich. When you see a student graduating and you can say to yourself "I had a part to play in this" - there is a great deal of satisfaction. All of the time - you are helping others, at times you need to have a lot patience and passion to succeed. Yes - there are frustrations (mostly to do with administration work and student behaviour), but you will develop your own strategies for how you will best deal with any frustration. The positives greatly out way the negatives. I would also advise students not to go into teaching straight away after leaving school or college. Get out into the world so that you can share these real-life experiences later with your students. If you want to be a French teacher, go to live and work in France, West Africa, or Canada. If you want to be a science teacher, why not try to work in industry first? If you want to be a history or geography teacher - travel and experience the rich culture of other countries. All this need not cost a huge amount, but I think it preferable to going into teacher training first.

Teaching is a wonderful career - but is not for everyone. One of the most common reasons to become a teacher is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as you can - so says Michelle Manno in a teaching blog post: "Reasons for Becoming a Teacher". She also tells us that as a teacher "you are more than just an educator: you are a mentor, a confidant and a friend". Teaching is truly a means to Change Lives Through Education.

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