Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is teaching the best job for me?

Although I've done a lot of other jobs in my time, teaching is the one I've stuck at the longest - over 25 years.  I suppose it's true to say that since I started teaching I've never moved on to anything else because I've found a job where I feel I'm achieving something useful every day.  I've never wanted to move into administration (having done those sorts of jobs before becoming a teacher) because the joy for me in teaching is being in a classroom with the students and seeing the amazing learning that is going on, not being in an office and dealing with people and their problems.   These are the kind of things I need in my ideal job:

  • freedom for mobility around the organization/country - as a teacher I have taken on a lot of different roles (thanks to all those administrators who encouraged me to move in these various directions) from a specialist high school teacher, to a more general middle school teacher and then to a primary homeroom teacher, after which I moved into IT.  I'm not done moving yet as I'd eventually like to take on more work in the library.  Currently I move between labs and into classrooms where I use mobile devices.  At the same time working in an international school has taken me to 3 different countries in the past few years - Holland, Thailand and now Switzerland.  I would say being a teacher in an international school is as pretty close to ideal as any job can be for me.
  • responsibilities with a high degree of contact with people - well this is definitely true of teaching - as this year I have over 350 students and work with 21 different homeroom teachers and lots of specialists too.
  • a responsive team with whom to work and associate - I have been truly blessed in my years as a teacher to work with the most amazing educators who have students' best interests at heart.  
  • an environment with an organisational eye towards the future - we are dealing with children's futures so we have to be very forward thinking.  The international schools where I've worked have been striving to get better all the time.  As an IT teacher nothing ever stands still - we are always looking to the future.
  • a work environment that encourages creative risk-taking - most of the time I have been encouraged and supported when I have gone "out on a limb".
  • challenging assignments - definitely!

So reading through this list I would say that teaching is definitely the best job for me.  But am I the best person to be a teacher?  Well here are some area that I know I need to work on:

  • being impatient - usually for change - I know I could get more accomplished by using more patience with individuals and teams.  I often hear myself saying "we're already behind other schools with our IT, we need to be moving forward at a quicker pace."  I'm conscious that this probably puts people's backs up.  I know I need a softer approach.
  • doing too many things by myself because usually takes too long to explain my ideas to others - I know I need to work hard to get others on board too.
  • being too impulsive - because I want to get things done now and am optimistic that I can get them done
  • setting goals that are too high, too challenging or too optimistic - but on the other hand I don't want to set them too low and succeed at a low level.  I'd rather aim high, even if I fail to reach those heights.

All in all I think I am better as a specialist teacher than as a homeroom teacher - I like having a class come in and work on something and then leave again when they are done, and I think the students have this feeling when they come to the labs or when I go to their rooms, that here we are, we have the computers for a while to do a job and we need to get on and use the time wisely to accomplish it.

Photo Credit:  Impatience by Marylise Doctrinal

1 comment:

  1. Maggie, I loved being a specialist teacher. It suited me really well although starting out as a teacher, I wouldn't have guessed it. It was a role that I came to love. It offered me flexibility, interest with the changing age groups, and the time to work with staff as well. I loved my job!
    I wonder how many teachers match your second list. I have the exact same challenges. Is this common to those who choose to teach? Maybe just those teachers who choose to interact with social media?