Post # 1
Since I was young, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I started volunteering at 15 and really starting preparing myself to become a vet as early as I could. When I entered college and did my first internship, I quickly learned it wasn’t for me. Through some self-reflection, comments from others, and a dream that was so vivid I couldn’t ignore it, I decided that perhaps I’d like to go into teaching.
I love children. I love the idea of being able to revolutionize a child’s life and help expand their minds with new information. But I feel so unprepared; I did as much as I could for almost 4 years before entering college as a pre-vet major, and jumped right in to extra volunteer opportunities, internships, and a job working with animals in the first few months.
I’ve never tutored. I’ve never actually “taught” a lesson since I’ve never had the opportunity. I have shadowed many different grades and am fascinated, but I’ve never done it myself. I find myself growing concerned and worried because I am in my second year of college and still don’t know if I am “made” for this. We will be applying for the teacher’s college later this spring and many other students who are applying have worked in tutoring centers or at daycares for years.
I just feel so behind in comparison.
I love, love, LOVE my job at Petsmart because I love educating people on animals and talking to people, so I’m not sure if I could see myself leaving. Today I started looking at tutoring jobs, but most require previous experience, and I have none.
I don’t know what to do. I’m feeling flustered and confused, and afraid that I won’t be as good in the field as I want to be. If I am not the best (or at least a great) teacher, I can’t enter the field. I will never do anything without ensuring I am the best, or at least close to the best, especially when the welfare of others is on the line. I don’t want to make ANY children suffer an educational lapse because I find myself incompetent.
Teacher bees, please help! How did you know? What did you do?
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House
I don’t think you can really know if anything is right before you try it. Have you tried Kaplan to do SAT tutoring or something like that?
Post # 4
@MeiFrancis: Not knowing for certain freaks me out; the looming thought of possibly wasting my time on this path makes my skin crawl. I haven’t considered SAT tutoring. The extent of my search today was on Craigslist, but nearly all employers required previous experience. I’m also nervous to tutor because I’m taking 18 credits and work 25 hours a week, so I am not as available as most people would prefer. But I will definitely look into that! 🙂 Perhaps together, the employer and I could work something out.
Post # 5
- Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House
@Meglin: Yeah, SAT tutoring might work because it’s only twice a week at night, usually. You really can’t know anythign for sure in life so you kinda just have to operate under the assumption that it will be perfect
Post # 6
I am a teacher (early childhood special needs) who was a history major in college 🙂
I agree with the PP that you never know until you try. I was introduced to the field by randomly deciding to volunteer at an inner city after-school program. From there, I tutored in elementary schools through Americorps for almost 2 years, and then decided it was right for me before starting a master’s in education. I really had to start at the beginning because I had no education coursework or work experience… but the volunteering was enough to get me into the master’s program I wanted to go to.
What age levels appeal to you? Would you consider special ed (always an area of high need?)
I was not one of those people that was born wanting to teach, it was a role that I grew into over time and one that I am very proud of 🙂
Post # 7
That really is a good idea, thank you. Considering SAT season is approaching I appreciate the advice!
@kestane: Gosh, I envy the amount of work you put in before entering a classroom of your own; I want that. But even the idea of tutoring scares me. How will I know if I will be a good tutor? A child’s education hangs in my hands. At least with my current job at Petsmart and the veterinarian field, you could research the heck out of the material to get a grasp on what you would be talking about. But how do you research teaching besides just doing it?
I’m just terrified of making children suffer.
As for age levels, I eventually want to teach either high school English or biology. To start, I want to work with kids between grades 2-5 (from my shadowing experience thus far, 2-5 has resonated the most with me.) I took a course on special education last semester and absolutely LOVED it, but definitely feel like I would need more experience as a teacher before entering a classroom as a special ed teacher. My confidence would not be nearly high enough right out of school. But the prospect is definitely not out the window.
Post # 8
See what the requirements for a sub license in your district is. You may already have enough credits and be able to get a sub license. With that you can sub on your days off from Petsmart to see if its something you enjoy. If you have a lot of patience and love kids and want to inspire them u will probably be a good teacher
Post # 9
@Meglin: I had definite confidence issues too- I never thought any child could see me as an authority figure- so that’s just how long it took for me to feel comfortable in the classroom!
In my experience, 2nd and 3rd grades are awesome. 2nd and 3rd graders are still as sweet as the younger ones, but they are able to learn more about life and the world outside their own. I don’t know about 4th or 5th- the thought of the hormones starting to change is frightening! You will always be able to incorporate your love of animals into the classroom, kids at any age would love that.
A sub license is a good idea, as it would get you into a classroom. But for me the idea of subbing was a bit scary too. I don’t know how subs deal with so many unfamiliar kids and classroom rules and routines in so many different grade levels… it must be an art of its own!
As for knowing if you would be a good tutor, it’s really impossible to tell! For example I have zero patience with things like traffic and showing my mom how to use computers… but I have tons of patience with my preschoolers. Go figure. Can you break down concepts and tasks into clear and manageable steps? Do you notice what people are doing right as well as what they might be doing incorrectly? I can guarantee that you WON’T have a negative impact on any child. There is no ‘perfect’ way to do it, just remember that taking the time to build student-teacher rapport goes a long way.
Post # 10
@Meglin: There is a whole tonne of research though. If I have an issue with a students (particularly back home, where I taught 11-13 year olds, primary setting) I have a whole lot of research and information at my fingetips, as well as teachers who have been in the profession much longer than me to give tips and mentoring.
Post # 11
I agree with @mjwyatt84: … find out some requirements for subbing, and you can try that. Just keep in mind…subbing is different from having your own room! It’s a nice way to see how the day is laid out, but even the most well behaved kids can act different when a sub comes into the room :-).
Your university program will probably have some rotations set up for you to experience being in a classroom. My program…we started out with 10 hours over the course of the semester (which ended up working out to be something like 1x/week). The next year, it jumped to 6 hours per week, and then we had a year of student teaching.
I was in a very similar situation to you…except I thought I wanted to be a writer. I switched my major halfway through my second year and never looked back! Could you also contact your education department at your university? Let them know what you’re thinking and they may be able to set you up with something. Some campuses even have childcare on their premises…you may be able to volunteer there.
Post # 12
I’m a high school English teacher, in my 12th year of teaching. A couple of things –
1) you can’t start off in grades 2-5 and then transfer to high shcool. They are seperate degrees. Most degrees do something like K-6 and then 7-12. I have never seen a degree program that covered all grades.
2) Stop worrying about being “the best” or “perfect”. It’s never going to happen. As a high school teacher, I have 143 students this year. I will never reach all of them, all the time. You do the best you can and put in as much effort as you can. I don’t mean this to sound like I don’t care, I love my job more than anything and can’t imagine doing anything else, but it is not possible to be perfect or the best.
3) Teaching takes time and commitment. For me, since I teach English, the grading is a whole heck of a lot of time. My shcool gives 4-5 essays a year (which means teaching how to write an analytical essay, looking at drafts, doing writing ocnferences with students) and then grading those essays. 143 essays at 10-15 minutes an essay adds up to a lot of outside time. Tests for English are not multiple choice – they are short answer and quotation analysis and in class essays. In elementarty schools, there is a TON of paperwork and charting of progress. Being a teacher requires time outside of the classroom to get stuff done – grading, planning, etc.
4) Being a teacher is the most rewarding thing I have ever done (I’m assuming this will be eclipsed when I have kids). It is rewarding and fulfilling and great. It is wonderful to see that you have made a difference to someone – whether it be the kid who gets no support at home and just needs someone to love them, or the kid who just found a book that they actually like 🙂
I am happy to talk about teaching as much as you like. Feel free to ask wahtever questions you have!
Post # 13
I agree with everything @Glasgowbound said. Been teaching 10 years now.
Just a side note – tutoring is very different from teaching. There is a huge difference between sitting down with one kid or a handful of kids and standing up in front of 20+ students. Tutoring might show you if you truly enjoy imparting knowledge to others, but it won’t really prepare you for the issues you’ll face in a full classroom.
That said, I had a friend who worked a desk job for years before quitting to become a teacher. She loves it now and she’s good at what she does. So you definitely don’t have to be born with the desire to teach to be a good teacher.
In my experience, if you are sincere in your desire to better your students, that’s half the battle. I run into many teachers that don’t really give a crap if their students learn anything in their classrooms or not.
Post # 14
I’m not a teacher yet, or even in an education program, but I have been leading supplemental instruction for Biol 100 and 101 at my university for going on three years now. I basically review material from class, make up question sheets so students can practice things like multiple choice, play pictionary with them, and conduct midterm and final reviews with 100-200 students. It’s awesome! Sometimes they’re so hard to deal with, because most of them are 17 year olds, but they’re also great fun.
I feel pretty comfortable with people that age, and so I really want to teach high school sciences (preferrably grades 10, 11, and 12). It’s like a performance all the time, and a challenge. It’s also all about confidence, or just pretending to have confidence. 😉
You might want to look into volunteering at places like women’s shelters, after school programs, or daycares. I worked at a daycare and found that, while I LOVE 2 year olds, 8-13 year olds kind of weird me out.
The good education programs tend to give you lots of classroom experience. Before I decided to finish my science degree, I switched and took a semester of education. I hung out in a grade 3/4 class during that whole semester.
In Saskatchewan, Canada, you can get a “Secondary Education” degree and teach kindergarten. I believe the reverse is true, too.
Post # 15
Thank you everyone for replying!
The sub license is definitely a great suggestion, thank you! However, in Arizona, a bachelor’s degree is required and the typical sub will only make between $80-$100 a day. I suppose if, after graduation, I am unable to find a job I can explore this route, but the requirements seem too strict to make it a plan for myself.
@Glasgowbound: Thank you for taking the time to reply! I don’t plan on using my bachelor’s to jump right into high school; I would love to get a masters (and eventually a doctorate degree) in English before I would apply for high school. Teachers I have spoken with have advised me to wait a few years before getting my master’s, however, because I will get paid more with a master’s, and they won’t necessarily want to hire a teacher at a higher pay rate who has no experience. Hence the reason I would like to teach elementary first, then eventually (if I still feel inclined to do so) enter the secondary world.
My perfectionism is a struggle in my life, and I think it came off a bit too strong in my original post. 😛 Basically, what I meant to say was that I want to be as prepared and as knowledgeable as possible before stepping foot into a classroom. I want to feel like I am great at what I’m doing. I need to convince myself beforehand that I am doing well in my career, and right now, I have done nothing to prepare myself outside of shadowing classrooms, reading books on teaching, and researching the best teaching strategies. I’m scared that I don’t know HOW to teach. Was there anything you did to help prepare yourself before you started teaching, or during your first year? Any books or research that you found particularly helpful?
@keepsmiling19: My school has a similar program. I apply for the teaching college this spring, and if I am accepted, I am required to do an internship for a year my junior year. I know that it will be at least twice a week, though I’m not sure for how many hours each day. After that year, I will be student teaching for a year.
@everridiculous: I’m looking into any type of volunteer program. I think unpaid experience will be my best shot right now, then I can look into paying jobs.
Post # 16
@Meglin: Many of my friends were able to get teaching jobs at high schools right after graduating from an MA program (caveat – this may depend on what school you get your MA from). In fact, depending on what state you’re in (New York, for example), an MA may be mandatory. Private high schools don’t require certification but they almost always ask that you have an MA in the subject you mean to teach.
An MA in your subject would also allow you to teach as an adjunct at a college, if you wanted to explore that option.
Also, I don’t know how pertinent any elementary school experience is going to be when applying to a high school. A lot of schools ask specifically for experience in teaching a certain age group.