Being a teacher is a huge responsibility, and it’s certainly not for everyone. Educators have the power to lead the nation’s youth to academic, professional and personal success. The most successful teachers help shape lives for the better and teach lessons that can be applied both inside and outside of the classroom.
If you’re wondering if a position in this noble profession is right for you, it’s important to know what being a teacher truly entails. There are certain characteristics and skills that make some individuals more equipped for a teaching career than others, and you should have realistic expectations about the average teacher’s salary and benefits. So, is teaching right for you?
Characteristics of Good Teachers
You can be a brilliant mathematician, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should teach it to others. Teachers should be interested in sharing their knowledge with others, creating a classroom full of curiosity and learning.
Successful teachers are patient, passionate, organized and great at communication. No matter what grade level, your patience will be tested. Things that happen outside of school can greatly affect a student’s behavior in the classroom. Teachers need to be patient and understanding when dealing with students who are struggling with new concepts or dealing with personal issues that can impact their school work.
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Passion comes into play during these scenarios as well. If a class is having a difficult time engaging with subject, good teachers make it their duty to find new, interesting ways to present the material. A teacher’s passion is contagious. If students notice their instructor’s enthusiasm for a certain subject, it’s likely that they will be more interested in it, too.
That being said, having passion and an in-depth understanding of a certain subject is one thing, but can you effectively communicate that knowledge? Communication skills are a must for teachers. They must be confident and able to present material in a way that students of all levels can understand.
Finally, being organized and resourceful is extremely necessary for teachers. Classroom time is limited, so it’s important to plan lessons that can realistically be covered in whatever time they have. Because many teachers have different classes, students and assignments each day, staying organized is essential.
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Job Outlook for Teachers
Salaries and benefits for teachers vary widely depending on the state you’re in and whether you work in the private or public sector. A teacher’s experience, education and the level they teach at can also have an impact on how much they make.
According to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, secondary school teachers make a mean annual wage of $61,420 a year. However, some states have averages around $33,000 a year, while others are about $75,000 a year. Location is a big factor in determining how much a teacher makes.
Regardless, teachers typically have great health and retirement benefits. Many teachers will also enjoy having eight weeks off for summer vacation, paid winter and spring holidays, paid student-teacher holidays and professional development days without students.
Gain Practical Experience
If you’re considering becoming a teacher, supervised classroom experience is one of the best ways to see if this profession is right for you. You can volunteer and work as a classroom assistant, work as a substitute or participate in a student teaching program. Whatever you choose, experienced teachers can help advise and guide you as you decide whether or not this career path is one you want to follow.