Teaching has historically been a fulfilling and viable career; however, teaching isn’t for everyone. In fact, about 40% of Australian teachers quit teaching within five years of launching their careers. If your child or grandchild is considering a career as a teacher, it’s important for them to be aware of the following challenges first:
1. There’s heaps left to learn before getting started
With many jobs, the prospective employee takes a training course on how to do the job, and is then well prepared for actually doing the job. That’s basically all there is to it.
With teaching, there’s much more to it than that.
First, your aspiring teacher will have to thoroughly learn the subject matter they’ll be teaching. This may be an easy enough task depending what they’re going to teach. For example, if they’re planning to become an early childhood teacher, they’ve probably already learnt a substantial amount of the information they’ll need to teach their students. But if they’re planning to teach secondary school maths, science, history or a similarly knowledge-intensive subject discipline, there will be a staggering amount of information they will need to absorb.
That’s just for starters.
They’ll also need to become an expert in the art of teaching, which is a separate skill.
Even if they aren’t teaching English, they’ll also need to perfect their English language skills – both speaking and writing.
It’s also useful if they could obtain an understanding of human psychology, because the job will entail dealing with other human beings — all day, every day.
Australian teachers typically make substantial investments in their education. In some areas of Australia, a bachelor’s degree is the absolute minimum academic requirement — but it’s becoming more common for teachers to obtain a master’s degree. In South Australia, a master’s degree is now the minimum requirement, with both the Master of Education and the Master of Teaching being popular choices.
If your aspiring teacher plans to lecture at university, the requirements are also quite rigorous. In that case, they’ll need a formal qualification in their subject of specialisation, with a master’s degree being acceptable, but a doctoral degree being the gold standard.
2. Teaching is only part of the job
A teacher’s job, of course, is to teach — but there is much more to the job than just leading classroom discussions and putting notes up on a chalkboard. Teachers are generally expected to do much more than just teach:
● They spend their after-school hours marking papers and planning lessons.
● They must attend staff meetings and also conduct meetings with parents.
● They’re frequently expected to complete paperwork and perform other administrative tasks.
If your aspiring teacher is choosing this profession with the idea that they’re only going to be working from 9am to 3:15 pm every day, they’ll be in for a shock when confronted with the reality of how long a teacher’s workdays can turn out to be.
3. Dealing with parents can be stressful
While students can be challenging for a teacher to deal with, there are times when their parents can be even more challenging. Most parents are reasonable to deal with, but not all of them are. Teachers occasionally encounter parents who are aggressive or abusive. It is also relatively common for teachers to encounter parents who blame them for all the problems a particular child may be having at school. Overall, dealing with parents can be one of the more stressful aspects of a teacher’s job.
Before your aspiring teacher makes a substantial investment of time, money and resources in obtaining formal qualifications, it’s important for them to be aware of these important realities. If they’re aware of these things, and comfortable with these fundamental truths, they are much likelier to persist with this career path rather than quitting soon after starting.
If there’s an aspiring teacher in your family, you are cordially invited to enquire about the Master of Education degree program at UTS. This course of study is designed to prepare your student for success in the classroom and beyond.