“Those who can’t, teach”

So this is about the idea that teaching is easy and it’s the go-to job for people who can’t figure out what to do. I actually had a conversation with a fellow teacher about this and read about it on a blog post. And here’s my two cents…

For me, being a teacher is easy because:

        • It’s something we’ve seen done throughout our childhood. It’s the one profession that we’ve probably had the most exposure to before we leave for college simply because of how much time we spend in classrooms.
        • What teachers do is usually only seen by students and the teacher, meaning that if the teacher messes up, as long as students don’t notice, there isn’t really a consequence. In other words, there’s room for experimentation, mistakes, second-chances, and laziness.
        • In terms of laziness, it is easy to be a mediocre, doing-only-the-minimum kind of teacher. This happens in many professions but especially with teaching, the amount of thought, effort, and care you put into your lesson and students can vary greatly from teacher to teacher, even if they are earning the same salary. And because of the teaching profession’s meager salary and low sense of respect in society, it’s just so enticing to do the bare minimum.
        • The actual job itself isn’t abstract. Basically, a teacher’s work day consists of interacting with students and preparing for future lessons. It’s different than working with HTML codes or accounting numbers, which are much more abstract. For someone like me, working with something tangible and having a job that consists of everyday interactions is much easier than working with codes and numbers.

For me, being a teacher is difficult because…

        • So much of what makes teaching difficult is behind the scenes, such as the preparation work and the reflective aspect of how to make your teaching better. This is the part where new teachers just starting to teach realize that teaching is much more difficult than they thought.
        • It’s difficult to be a good teacher. I think there are three aspects to being a good teacher: preparation, execution, and reflection. The three are naturally interconnected and work in cycles.
          1. Preparation: ABOLSUTELY key to good teaching, even for experienced teachers. It forces you to think ahead on how you would teach a certain topic and how it might play out. Obviously, you learn to prep faster and more accurately with the more experience you get. But hopefully, you’d want to constantly be changing and improving your lessons and therefore, still needing to spend a good amount of time doing prep work to make sure the lesson will go smoothly.
          2. Execution: This is when class management, time management, improvisation, and other things you cannot plan for happen in class and as a teacher, you have to think on your feet. If a student gives you a response you did not expect, how do you respond to that? There are so many of these situations that only become easier with experience. That’s why teaching is difficult – all the difficult situations that teachers experience can really only be learned through experience. You can’t study it from a book or memorize it.
          3. Reflection: This is the part that lazy teachers leave out. Reflection involves thinking back on your lesson, asking yourself if your lesson achieved the teaching point that it needed to. It involves thinking about whether there are any ways you can improve the lesson so that the students can get more out of it. It’s difficult because you have to think back. You have to work off of your memory and somehow figure out an answer that you’ll have to remember for the next lesson. And no one is asking you to do this step and checking to see if you’ve done your reflection. The only one to hold you responsible for it is yourself. If as a teacher, you want to improve your teaching, this step is crucial. Unfortunately, many teachers, the bare minimum ones, skip this.

In the end, good teachers know how to manage the classroom so that students get the most out of the time they are in the classroom. That doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. And it doesn’t happen out of improv. It happens from careful planning and intentional methods.

        • Teaching is also difficult because the main people you work with (assuming you teach high school or lower) are still in stages of development and generally immature. Therefore, there’s the added element of being a parent almost and having to deal with not only the subject matter but also issues of growing up in general.

I think I could go on and list more things that make teaching difficult. But in the end, I think like any profession, teaching has things about it that make it easy and make it difficult. I think my concluding point would be that to say teaching is for those who can’t do anything else, or that teaching doesn’t really involve any sort of method or skill, is oversimplistic and ignorant. Really, all anyone has to do to realize how difficult teaching can be is to actually be a teacher. And maybe that’s why the teaching profession is so misunderstood.

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