How to decide if you want to teach

I try not to write too much about education but you are causing me to go over my limit. It’s the brutal reality of what education has become in this country that I’ve watched and struggled with for years. Dirt poor, exploited, and anyone could do what you do until they try. But why would they try it? Very good question.

But you touched the essential problem that will remain even if you can find a job that pays more than $30k to start. You may not be a teacher.

Even if you want to you cannot say you will be a teacher until you have done it for two years. Jessica WildFire, you can disagree but that is my experience.

The first year is discovering that you cannot generate interest in ancient Chinese history in a room of sullen people at 8:00AM on a Monday morning. The second discovery is that those students are not your friends. You are a necessary evil that they must endure to complete a required course. That is, after all, what you will be teaching. Not your speciality that you have spent years in graduate school studying but the 101 required course.

At that point, still in the first year, you may discover that you are not your friend. In fact you may not want anything to do with what you realize you are. The academic year ends and it is time for plan B. Hopefully you invested in a plan B while you were acquiring debt.

If you go for year two you will realize that you have gotten better but you need to work on your presentation and technology tools for course production. And you realize that it would be really helpful to do some amateur stand up comedy to hone those skills. This is the pedagogy that was being described by its etymology. If your audience spends the time talking loudly and occasionally throwing things at you, you have a problem.

Now if this sounds interesting and what you were looking for, congratulations. You can see if the students respond, at all, to your second year. The first was a right off so forget about it.

Other educators can disagree with what I say, but classes are theater of the most difficult type. When you walk on stage you are not simply reading your lines. It’s showtime and your audience will be expecting you to make them laugh, think, and maybe cry. The don’t know that but that is what they are expecting. And you are going to do that, on a standard college schedule, fifteen times a week for sixteen weeks, small break, and then you start again. And you will want to get better.

Now this is not just the sage on stage but mentor and shaper of discussions and innovative environments for new ideas from very old material.

If you teach full online or flipped courses you need to become a video and audio production designer and engineer and do all of the above in front of a camera with no audience. You will learn why theater people struggle with ‘film’. Different animal and much harder because you cannot feed off the witty kid in the front row. If you haven’t figured out how to feed off the witty kid in the front row that kid is probably eating you for breakfast to the delight of the rest of the class.

Then you grade all the papers and exams.

Ok that is the second year and you need to see if you’re not too exhausted to survive. By then you realize that you may starve but you could maybe do this but do you really want to?

And all the assholes in the world will tell you what you should be doing because anyone can teach. But, lucky you, you’re paid all that money for doing something anyone can do.

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