I keep thinking about training to become a teacher so found this guest post fascinating! Are you a teacher? What have you learned from teaching?
If you have worked as a teacher, you may understand more than anyone that you learn something new every day. The lessons you learn as a student, from poetry to Pythagoras and rhetoric to refraction will vary greatly from the lessons you learn as you stand in front of the classroom as the teacher. It is these experiences, sometimes learned the hard way, that can offer us the most memorable life lessons.
Lesson 1: Hard work isn’t always noticed
Many people see teaching, especially in primary schools, as glorified baby-sitting with a little bit of marking and making colourful displays. Yet, despite the fact schools are part of everyone’s lives almost every role – from the importance of teaching assistants up to the accountability of head teachers – is misunderstood. It is easy to forget that teachers take their work home with them most nights, and spend out of school hours liaising with parents and school leaders, planning activities and taking professional development courses outside of term time.
Lesson 2: People skills are essential
Most adults only have to deal with other adults in their jobs, but our teachers have to juggle with work issues with colleagues as well as the occasional student problem. It is a common misconception that we get more bitter with age, but what if your job meant you were dealing with pupils going through the turbulent times of growing up on a daily basis? The people, emotional, behavioural skills teachers learn whilst on the job are usually the most useful, and important.
Lesson 3: Diplomacy is important
Every mother and father thinks the world of their ‘little one’. As a teacher, it can be tricky to navigate a meeting with a parent about their child’s behaviour when a parent refuses to believe you, dismisses their child’s issues as them being ‘boisterous’, or accuses you of not challenging them enough. Finding a way to voice your concerns about a pupil without offending a parent is a fantastic skill – and a tricky one that parents need to learn.
Lesson 4: Accountability
Teachers are judged on certain performance metrics and many of these are reliant on others. If your class is not progressing as expected, which could be due to the students’ own circumstances, you will be held responsible. It is your fault if you do not recognise a student is struggling – perhaps due to stress caused by problems at home or due to undiagnosed learning difficulties. Regardless of the reasons, it is still your responsibility. Learning to be accountable and responsible for others is tough and an important life lesson to be picked up from teaching.
Lesson 5: A job is as rewarding as you make it
You don’t need constant approval and reinforcement to feel rewarded by your work. If you are a teacher you cannot expect students or parents to give you the thanks you deserve every time. However, if you have helped your student’s grasp a particularly challenging topic you will know you have done a good job and, when it comes around to exam time, you can sleep soundly knowing that you have prepared your students to get the best grades possible. By investing your time and energy into doing the best job as a teacher, you’ll see that the greatest rewards in life come when you put the most effort into your work.