When teachers are asked to explain why they chose education as a career, there is no telling what the answer might be. Different people choose teaching for different reasons, but one thing is for sure, no matter what the reason, the end result is the same. Teaching is a challenging, yet highly rewarding career, and teachers everywhere will attest to the satisfaction that is felt knowing they are laying the foundation of children’s futures. The following are the top 10 reasons why you may choose to teach elementary school:
1. You value the building blocks of education.
Elementary school is where it all begins. A child’s first teachers are the people who will set the bar for learning. They have the ability to instill a love for school, but also to foster feelings of negativity in a child if not careful. Often times, it’s a child’s first experience with socializing outside of family, following a specific routine or experiencing rules and consequences from someone other than a parent. These are all extremely important facets of education, as they set the groundwork for a child’s success in later years, both behaviorally and academically.
Elementary school is also the first introduction to the subjects a child will be learning for years to come. The teacher’s ability to ignite an interest in subjects like math, Language Arts and science can determine the type of learner the child will be throughout school. Failing to capture a child’s interest early on can seriously hinder their academic success later, especially if the child also struggles with the socialization aspect of school. Also, teaching a child to enjoy reading is extremely important in the younger years, since reading is really the foundation for all subjects. It’s a huge job of elementary teachers, but also very rewarding, to help children develop such crucial skills.
2. You have a broad appreciation for a variety of subjects.
One huge advantage that elementary teachers have over single subject teachers is the ability to teach several different subjects in one day. This eliminates the monotony of teaching the same thing all day, and it allows teachers to see their students in many different capacities. For example, a student who struggles in math but excels in reading will be able to show his teacher his strengths, not just weaknesses. Teachers can see a better-rounded student when teaching a variety of materials.Another advantage to teaching all of the subjects is the ability to incorporate different activities into the day’s lesson. The morning might be spent doing math problems, but the afternoon could turn into a fun science lab or skit. Elementary teachers can foster their creativity and individuality through their lessons and interactions with students. Many elementary teachers choose to collaborate and take turns teaching the different subjects, so if one has a love for science, and another for Language Arts, they can each teach the lesson they prefer.
3. You love the energy and excitement that small children display.
There is a definite feeling of exhilaration in an elementary school that can’t be felt in many other environments. Children love to learn. They are eager to experience and witness new things, even if it is school work, which makes the teacher’s job exciting and rewarding. Children enjoy their surroundings and each other, which creates an atmosphere of fun and happiness.Elementary teachers have the opportunity to expose students to so many new things that they may not experience otherwise. Often times, school is the first time children are taking field trips to museums, factories, businesses and other places they’ve never been. They get to see guest speakers, visit the library, watch assemblies and many other fun activities. Seeing the look on a child’s face the first time he/she really “gets” a concept or witnesses a new experience is a very rewarding feeling.
4. You want to help children with special challenges.
Many parents of students with disabilities or disorders do not know their children are different until they begin school. It’s not until they are with other children their age, in a similar setting, that the challenges begin to show up. Elementary teachers are often the first people to recognize such differences. They work closely with parents, specialists and administrators to identify problems and come up with the best solutions for the child.
This is an important part of the elementary teachers’ responsibility, because if a child with certain disabilities slips through the cracks in elementary school, it could be years before a disability is noticed, if even at all. Identifying a student’s challenges as early as possible will help ensure that there are certain adaptations or additional support systems put in place so the child will have every opportunity to be as successful as his/her peers in school.
5. You will develop special relationships with many children.
Teaching the same group of kids all day, all year long, helps foster a strong bond between teacher and student. The teacher is, in a sense, the parent away from home, so the child can develop a bond that is unbreakable. The student will learn to trust the teacher, much like a parent, and might even share important events with the teacher throughout life. Many teachers are invited to graduations, weddings and even baby showers of students they had many years before.
For some teachers, their students become like a second family as well. They will follow their accomplishments in sports or the arts, attend programs and conferences and think of them just like a family member. Students will stop by and say hello to old teachers, often times to tell them how much they appreciate what the teacher did for them, or to talk about fun memories from the class. It’s very rewarding as a teacher to know how many lives they touched and to hear that the memories continue on years later.
6. The school schedule fits with your lifestyle.
One important thing to remember is that becoming a teacher doesn’t immediately ensure free weekends and summers. Although teachers do get weekends, holidays and summer vacations off from the classroom, most spend great deal working on upcoming lessons, curriculum for the following year or just revising and recreating lessons they’ve already taught. The myth that teachers spend their summers basking in the son doing nothing is just that, a myth.
However, teaching does allow a certain level of flexibility that other jobs do not have. It is a great schedule for raising a family, because teachers generally have the same days off as their children. Also, it’s convenient for attending after school activities, picking kids up from school and planning holiday and summer vacations. Although there is a fair amount of work that must be completed when not in the classroom, the teacher’s schedule allows that work to be done at his/her own leisure.
7. You want to be a lifelong learner.
Many teachers love the idea of continuing to learn throughout their careers. Most states require teachers to recertify their licenses every few years, which means credits must be accumulated. It’s a way for teachers to stay abreast the changes in education, as well as the concepts being taught for the different subjects. Teachers can attend professional development classes or conferences throughout the year, or they can take classes through a university, but either way, they must continue to stay current with their knowledge of the different subjects.
Education is one of the few careers that allow people to easily transition between different grade levels and subjects. Many teachers will teach one grade level for several years before deciding they would like a change of atmosphere and moving to a different age. It’s also relatively simple to acquire an endorsement to teach a different subject and move around that way. Good teachers try to avoid becoming stagnant by switching up grade levels every few years.
8. You enjoy being around children more than adults.
Let’s face it; some adults are difficult to work with. Inter-office politics, drama between co-workers, backstabbing and gossip at the water-cooler are all well-known problems that can take place in corporate America. It can be difficult to work with many other adults, who are all set in their ways and unwilling to compromise, without feeling out of place or mistreated. Some people just don’t do well with these types of work environments or the negativity that adults can sometimes bring to the table, and that’s why they would prefer to work with young children who are eager to learn.
Although there are other issues present in a room full of small children, there is generally not the same level of conflict that can be present in a workplace with several adults. Children want to please their teacher, and they will generally choose right over wrong because of that. They love making new friends with one another, and as mentioned above, they show up each day with an energy that is contagious and fun.
9. You are optimistic.
A teacher should not be “glass half empty” type of person. There will be days when it feels like nothing is working and the work is all a waste of time. These are the days that teachers go home, take a deep breath and come back the next day to try something new. They do it because they know what’s at stake, and they are passionate about the importance of teaching students. There is no room for giving up in the education profession, because that is not the example that should be set for students.
As terrible as it is to feel defeated after teaching a lesson, it feels ten times better to try again and get it right. The days that kids are not listening, lessons don’t work and nothing is falling into place are very few and far between. Teachers have to be resilient and diligent, and the reason is because the students’ futures depend on it. Optimism is a key element to becoming a successful teacher.
10. You understand the importance of education.
Not everyone values education. Some children come from households where school is not a priority. If teachers do not relay the message that school is important, and that an education is a valuable asset in life, those students will never get that message. Teachers must show children that school can be fun, and exciting, but also challenge students to better themselves and understand the importance of hard work.
This value for education must not stop in the classroom. Teachers should become involved in parent organizations, community efforts to improve education and other outside resources. Teachers are a community’s greatest assets when it comes to teaching children to appreciate and prioritize school. They must find ways to ignite a love for learning in children at a very young age, so that it will follow them throughout their lives.
No matter what the reason is for becoming an elementary teacher, the end goal should always be to touch the lives of children and develop lifelong learners who appreciate and value school. It takes all types to educate children, and not every teacher will go about it the same way, but when a person decides to choose teaching as a career path they are taking on a huge responsibility and will experience many rewards for their choice.