career

'The three things I tell anyone who wants to be a teacher.'

Teaching isn’t for everyone.

That isn’t meant to be harsh or confrontational at all, it’s simply a fact.

My best friend is a policeman, my brother runs his own business, my mother is a nurse and my sister works in a jail. Whilst some aspects of their jobs drive them insane, they all love what they do. They draw inspiration and energy from each day’s activities and problems. Whilst I might be able to do some of their jobs, I know I couldn’t fully live out make a lifetime career of any of them.

And that is absolutely fine.

teaching career advice
Teaching isn't for everyone, it's simply a fact. Image via Getty.

Not every person can do every thing.

Each of us loves and aspires to do, and be, different things.

Which is why when reading a recent article about a person's experience of teaching I was simultaneously frustrated, empathetic and disappointed. Not because this person didn't end up staying in teaching, but because it seems they made a crucial error: they went into a career that demands passion without (seemingly) having that passion.

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It isn't enough to go into teaching because of the holidays.

It isn't enough to get into teaching because you like kids.

It isn't enough to become a teacher as something to try out (or as a great back up while auditioning for gigs).

If you do go into for those things, then be ready for some tough, tough times.

I say this not because I am saying teaching should be lauded above everything else. I say this because if you do fall under one of these reasons you are setting yourself up for a huge amount of stress, heart ache, anxiety and human effort.

Teaching isn't for everybody, and that's okay.

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For anyone thinking about going into teaching I have three things to say:

1. Amazing! It is literally the funnest, stupidest and most ridiculous thing I do each and every day.

2. Be ready to have your personal and emotional core rocked every single day (every 15 minutes if you are one of the elite people out there taking on Preps!)

3. Do you actually want to be a teacher?

When reading the article in The Age recently I couldn't help be a little incredulous. To go into a high stakes, demanding profession you need to really want to do it. If you aren't truly motivated you may as well take a number for something else.

That's the thing people are only starting to realise with teaching: you can't simply walk into it if you are picturing more holidays with your kids, better working hours or finger painting. Well, you can, but just be ready to be truly tested.

teaching career advice
It's not all holidays and finger painting. Image via Getty.

We all know the research sitting out there - the first five years of teaching has a huge burnout rate. People cry out about the huge workloads, demands and accountability factors as reasons for teachers "not cutting it".

Yes there are growing expectations, yes the need for collaboration is crucial to support and build each other up, and yes it can be emotionally draining.

When our core work is to support, challenge and build up people, it is always going to be emotionally draining.

If we look at that data from a different perspective, I'm wondering if it also suggests many people go into teaching that shouldn't be teachers.

Because, teaching isn't for everyone, and that's okay.

Daniel Steele is a primary school educator, advocate and new dad navigating dadhood. He is the founder of Upgrade Think Learn. If you're interested in more posts by Daniel, head to Upgrade Think Learn. You can also find Daniel on Twitter @LifeButUpgraded, on Facebook @Upgrade Think Learn or on Instagram @upgradethinklearn.

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