Choosing a career involves consideration of many factors both internal and external to the individual. One needs to introspect to determine where his true passion lies – be it providing service to others, expressing oneself through art, coaching others to optimize their potentials, etc. It also takes assessing one’s talents, skills, and propensity towards a certain calling. Externally, one needs to evaluate the kind of work conditions, environment, and compensation which he will have to live within carrying out his tasks on the job. He will also have to look into possible directions of his career path.
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This report covers a thorough discussion of the Teaching Profession. It would delve into necessary information such as the nature of work, work conditions, the educational requirements, compensation, and possible career advancement opportunities in the educational profession.
Information provided in this report is based on research on available literature on a teaching career as well as interviews from practicing educators on their work experiences. It shall discuss the following areas to consider:
- Job description/ nature of work
- Working conditions
- Educational background
- Career advancement opportunities
Known as the noblest profession, teaching has been around from time immemorial. A career in teaching involves many skills and talents necessary to handle the many-faceted tasks a teacher faces each day. Lucy Sprague Mitchell, a renowned educator was quoted to say: (as mentioned in Shalaway, 1997).
“Teachers can have the satisfaction of both scientists and artists in their professional lives. They can have the scientific approach in teaching: careful observations of their children, which is gathering evidence; experimental attitude in planning programs for their children, which is testing their data; flexibility in changing plans according to their findings. Teachers can function as artists in building a curriculum. They can be creative, not slavishly bound to a pattern, in thinking and planning for and with their children.”
Lucy Sprague Mitchell, educator and author Our Children and Our Schools (Simon & Schuster, 1950).
Job description/ Nature of Work
An experienced teacher interviewed on her job with very young children for the past twenty years thoroughly shared the nature of a teacher’s job. During the summer break, teachers already prepare for the year. They organize and decorate their classrooms in preparation for the students. They prepare lesson plans on various subject areas.
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During the school year, teachers implement their curriculum along with prepared teaching aids such as pictures, videos, games, etc. They utilize “props” or “manipulatives” to help children understand abstract concepts, solve problems and develop critical thought processes. They make use of a variety of activities to stimulate learning and development. Teachers play a big role in developing a child’s way of thinking. Whatever children learn during their student life may shape their views of themselves and the world and can later affect their later success or failure in life.
Teachers do a variety of tasks each day. “Teachers plan, evaluate and assign lessons, prepare, administer, and grade tests; listen to oral presentations, and maintain classroom discipline. They observe and evaluate a student’s performance and potential and increasingly are asked to use new assessment methods. For example, teachers may examine a portfolio of a student’s artwork or write to judge the student’s overall progress. They then can provide additional assistance in areas in which a student needs help. Teachers also grade papers, prepare report cards, and meet with parents and school staff to discuss a student’s academic progress or personal problems.” (Nashville Career Advancement Center, n.d.)
In addition to facilitating classroom activities, teachers also supervise study halls and homerooms, extracurricular activities. They may identify students with physical or mental problems or those with special needs and do the necessary referrals to the proper authorities or experts. Teachers meet with parents to discuss the progress of their children in the school or work together to help the student with a particular concern.
Most of the time, teachers work alone in their classrooms, isolated from their colleagues. Some schools require teachers to team-teach or work with mentors to enhance their professional development.
Many full-time teachers work more than 40 hours a week. Most teachers work the usual 10-month school year with a 2-month vacation during the summer. In districts with a year-round schedule typically work for 8 weeks, go on a vacation break for 1 week and have a 5-week midwinter break. Most teachers are likewise off on school holidays.
Teachers should have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. “All 50 States and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Licensure is not required for teachers in private schools in most States. Usually, licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually preschool through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary-education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12).” (Nashville Career Advancement Center, n.d.). Training and professional development are usually provided by the school either in-house or off-site.
In 2004, median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary school teachers ranged from $41,400 to $45,920. The lowest 10 percent earned $26,730 to $31,180 while the top 10 percent earned $66,240 to $71,370.
As of February 2008, the median expected salary for a typical Academic – Instructor in the United States is $80,017. This basic market pricing report was prepared using Certified Compensation Professionals’ analysis of survey data collected from thousands of HR departments at employers of all sizes, industries, and geographies. The lowest 25 percent earned $65,117 while the top 25 percent earned $98,000.00 (Salarywizard, 2008).
Teachers can augment their income further by coaching sports conducting private tutorial sessions and working with students in extracurricular activities. Getting a master’s degree or national certification often increases salary. Teaching summer school or performing other jobs in the school system may also be means of earning extra income.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Teaching is a career that leads to several possible alternative careers. Some teachers do research work alongside their teaching duties. Others get to write books – from storybooks to activity books to textbooks. Still, other teachers come up with the programs that they may offer as an after-school activity. Some teachers prefer to stay in the academe to pursue higher positions, not necessarily in teaching, mostly administrative posts.
The myriad of career advancement opportunities are inherent in the teaching profession because so many skills are tapped – organizational, creative, research, writing, public speaking, and a whole lot more! That is why teachers do not stop growing and continue to be productive long after they have retired from a teaching post.
Both career choices are ultimately fulfilling for a person whose passion is serving people. However, Open Options recommends to the client to choose Teaching, as its rewards are more in terms of building character in the client as well as in the students he will be teaching in the future.
Teaching touches lives and the fulfillment one gains from it is enough compensation for the soul. This career is flexible enough to lead to other alternative careers in the future, as it equips the teacher with a myriad of skills he can use both in his personal and professional life.
Nashville Career Advancement Center, Teaching as a Career. 2008. Web.
Salarywizard Salary of Academic Instructor. 2008. Web.
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Shalaway, L., Learning to Teach, Scholastic Professional Books (1997).
VA Comp Reform, Resource Management Manual, Virginia (2001).