Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Do You Want to Become a Teacher?

Dear Graduating Education Majors,

In these lean economic times, you must consider this choice you have made. For many of you, your first year in the field of education will mean driving from one school district to another as you try and keep the bank account out of the red as a substitute teacher. Will that be a valuable experience?
The pay is inconsistent. Some districts will pay as little seventy dollars a day while others fork out one hundred and twenty dollars a day.
The work is inconsistent. You might get called the night before, or you might have to wait until seven in the morning--or not at all. Will you be able to learn from this?
Others will find themselves working for failing school districts with major discipline issues, few resources, and unfocused central offices scrambling to implement a dozen new initiatives. Will that be a valuable experience?
The stress is debilitating. Some adminstrators will blame you for your students' choices while others will rarely check in on you.
The failure is debilitating. You might watch a student refuse to participate because he's given hope, or you might find yourself unable to handle the outlandish behaviors exhibited by students you care deeply for. Will you be able to grow from this?
Some will find themselves working for wealthy suburban districts with well-mannered students, plentiful resources, and clear minded central offices scrambling to ensure high SAT scores. Will that experience satisfy you?
The students are entitled. You might find that your assessments hurt their feelings and GPA--neither of which will make mommy and daddy happy with you. They care about class rank more than learning.
The students are well-adjusted. You won't have many to save, and you will be taken for granted--a necessary person to win over in hopes of a stellar recommendation.
What is that you want to accomplish? What will make you happy? Because in the end, as author/minister Frederick Buechner believes, our vocation is where our "deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."