By Kaylee Johnson
The teaching profession has a negative stigma, and I will admit that a lot of schooling is required to become an educator in New York State, but there is a currently a teacher shortage, so it is an excellent time to apply to be a young teacher. I am currently majoring in elementary education at a small college in Upstate New York. There are several wonderful and individualistic reasons to pursue teaching; here are a few of them:
You want to spread knowledge. The teaching profession seems intimidating to a lot of people, especially when there are some jobs that only require associates degrees and pay a lot more. Teacher salaries will not make you wealthy, but you can expect to be comfortable enough. All of the best teachers will tell you they went through six years of college to nourish young minds. You have to at least like children to teach, or else you will burn out within your first few years. I have heard people say that Common Core takes creativity out of classrooms, but that is a blatant lie. Common Core may be flawed, but innovative teachers know that there is still an ample amount of room for personal lessons and fun ways to teach monotonous Common Core lessons. Many students majoring in education claim that they had a teacher who inspired them to educate the next generation, others say they simply have a love of learning and children. You will never stop learning about the world, yourself, and your students if you become a teacher. In the words of Phil Collins, “In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn.”
You have a specialization. Maybe you love science, but you don’t want to become a scientist or doctor. Consider spreading your love of English, math, science, social studies, physical education, and art on to middle and high school students. Initially, I was resistant to the idea of majoring in adolescent education, because I know how some high school students behave. I remember one moment in particular when a substitute teacher walked into class with toilet paper sticking out of her skirt and my peers bullied her until she ran out of the classroom crying. In that moment I knew I did not want to become a high school teacher, but I have reconsidered the idea and I think I am going to get an extension that will allow me to teach first through ninth grade. You have to be thorough, nonjudgmental, a little lenient, and passionate about your specialization to be a memorable high school teacher. There will be hecklers and confrontations, but you can’t let those moments turn you into a bitter teacher. Let the beautiful, tenderhearted, and significant moments define you as a teacher. There is nothing quite like watching a passionate teacher talk about the subject they love.
You want to be an involved parent. Teaching is the perfect job for parents. Not only are you on the same schedule as your children, but you also have summers off! I know many teachers who tutor children in the summer for extra money, but overall the idea of having a few months off to let your mind relax sounds great. Teachers also receive great health benefits, so if your child falls off a bike, you are covered.
You want a job. Due to the teacher shortage in New York State, many schools are hiring very young teachers. I would not suggest majoring in education just because you want a job right after you graduate. You have to have gumption, passion, and a love of children in order to be a teacher. I have heard about many cases where people obtained their education degrees, yet when they were put in charge of their own classrooms they realized how much work it actually entailed, and then quit.
There are thousands of reasons to become a teacher, many that come from within. I met a friend for lunch not so long ago and he told me he wanted to become a history teacher, but his parents discouraged him so he is now majoring in something he does not enjoy. It is so important to love your job, or else the next fifty years will be miserable. I found meaning and heart in teaching, but you may find it in biology or criminal justice; whatever your major may be make sure you feel a spark ignite within you when you talk about it. As the Confucian saying goes, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”