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What it Takes to be a TeacherPosted Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at 6:34 PM
As the disdain for education and more specifically the so-called "socialist" teacher grows in this country I thought it would be a good idea to talk about what it actually takes to be a teacher. This is not some wide-eyed conspiracy about what teachers actually do (most of the people that contend that they know what teachers do usually do not have any clue what-so-ever).
For starters someone wanting to be a teacher must go through at least four years of college. If you want to teach at the middle or secondary levels (typically 6-12 grade) you will essentially be going to school for four years with a double major, one being the education part of the degree, the second being the field you want to teach (English, Math, Social Sciences, etc.) Some students will continue on and get their Master's degree which is another two years (some teachers, amazingly enough will go to Graduate School at the same time they are teaching).
Students wanting to become teachers must be accepted into the Education program (typically they have to be carrying a 3.0). Most students will drop out of the program after one class once they realize it is not going to be the cakewalk they have been led to believe.
Typically in the students third year of college students are sent out to the schools to view a teacher. In order to complete a semester a student has to have 18 hours of watching a teacher. The next step is going out and not only watching one teacher, but teaching a class for another.
Of course, throughout the schooling the student must take national tests called the PRAXIS series. There are three levels and four tests over the course of the schooling. One is general education, the second is more specific to the area that the student will be studying. The second test on this second level is known as the PLT. It is taken during the last semester of schooling (while the student is student teaching which I will get to in a minute). The final test comes sometime during the first year that a teacher is employed, where a state employee observes the now former student teaching.
In the final semester of school the student must go out and practice teach (this has been called student teaching and interning throughout the years). The student takes over a class for a teacher and for three months learns the ins and outs of teaching.
One thing that is driven into the future teacher's head before graduating school is that a teacher shall never discuss two private views; religion and politics. There really is no place for the teacher's feelings about either area in a classroom and it can lead to problems down the road.
Once the former student becomes a teacher that person can expect to work a solid forty hours a week in the classroom. That is what they are paid for. The rest is considered outside the contract, which is typically year to year. Most teachers at the primary and secondary level do not get tenure, they are on a year to year. Once a teacher has taught long enough (typically three years) it does become harder to fire them, but tenure has little to do with it.
Anything done outside of the school hours and school week are unpaid, unless there is a small stipend (typically occurring on school trips). For the teacher, these unpaid hours is where they typically do most of their work. This is when they plan for the next day (once a teacher has been teaching many years these hours do get a little shorter but not much).
None of this includes all of the sports games, dances, trips, concerts that teachers will go to in a semester let alone a year.
A teacher will, in a single day, run across every type of student there is: the brain, the stoner, the loner, the popular ones, the flunky, the one with ADHD, the mentally challenged, the rich, the poor, the confrontational one, the quiet one, the special needs. That is typically in one class. A teacher in the course of one class will make close to 1000 decisions. Most of these are subconsciously of course.
The Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Winter break depending on the school district), and Spring Breaks are typically full for the teacher as they are analyzing what has and has not worked in the period before and once again planning for what's next. All the one day breaks that students typically see through the year see the teachers at school. They have a requirement of 100 extra hours that they have to achieve every year.
In the three months (though they are not full calendar months) that occur in the summer teachers typically fill this time going to summer classes to learn more information for their classroom..
The pay for the majority of teachers is not great. There used to be an old saying that NYC trashmen were paid more than teachers. Retirement plans for most teachers in the United States is minimal at best which leads some teachers working into their 70s before they have enough in their retirement plan to even retire.
Those that need not apply to teaching:
Those that believe that when a student gets a vacation, the student gets a vacation. This is just not reality. It is a myth that has been pushed so hard that some people do see it as a fact and they can not be told otherwise.
Those who want to push their personal ideology to their students. The classroom is for learning not "brainwashing". Those that continue to this day to push the idea that a liberal or conservative agenda is being pushed in ANY school is once again pushing nothing more than a myth and a conspiracy theory.
Those wishing to make a lot of money in their lifetime. If that is your life's goal then you need to look elsewhere. There are two reasons for this. As I stated earlier there is not that great of money in education. The second is simply if you are in education for money and only money you are in education for the wrong reason.
Those that go into teaching because they want to educate children will always be the best teachers. Always, and they will strive to be the best. Unfortunately they are almost always lumped in with the minority of teachers that give teaching a black eye.
Those that seemingly live to trash education always latch onto the small minority of bad teachers and then try to convince anyone that will listen that the minority actually represent the majority. People who do this, in my own opinion, are absolutely horrible people. Some will see this as me painting people in a negative light or sliming them. So be it. I do not hate anyone, I do not have that ability. If there is one group of people that come close to me hating it is that group that is constantly trashing education and teachers. These people NEVER (let me say it again to be more clear) THESE PEOPLE NEVER use facts. They do just make it up as they go. They take few examples of bad teachers to attempt to paint all teachers as bad, evil, liberal people who deserve everyone's scorn.
If you went to a public school and you graduated and went on to college or started a career, you did that in part because of most of the teachers you came in contact with for 13 years.
The next time you see a teacher thank them, you would not be where you are today without them.
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