Becoming a teacher has many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Between being a full-time college student, full-time student teaching, taking mandated workshops and certification tests, all while trying to have a job to pay for all of your bills… you are more than likely to become stressed out. You constantly feel like you are not good enough and that there are not enough hours in the day to complete everything that needs to be done. But in the long run every panic attack, every minute you spent crying and feeling like you would never become a teacher, and every moment you thought about changing your career path, will slowly fade away and you will be happy about your decision to not give up your dream.
I still remember all of my thoughts on my first day of student teaching. "Will the students in my first grade class like me?"; "Will my cooperating teacher be helpful and understanding?"; "Am I dressed professional enough or even too professional?” etc. I remember walking through the classroom door and feeling my hands shake because of how nervous I was. All of that was over within minutes of being in the classroom. I loved being there every day and helping each and every one of the students with anything they needed. The stress came back while teaching my first lessons to the class, and having my first observations. But knowing that I had a class who loved me and a cooperating teacher who was there to help me through everything made me feel more relaxed.
Personally, whenever someone asks me why I want to become a teacher, I automatically think about the first class I student taught in. It was a classroom of 26 first graders, one amazing cooperating teacher and one helpful aid. I remember all of the children’s smiling faces whenever they saw me. I also remember coming back to visit after student teaching was over. All of the hugs and the little voices telling me they missed me made me realize that this is the right career path I need to be on. It means the world to me knowing that I made a difference in their lives within the three short months I was with them. Even when the students moved to second grade, they were always still excited to be able to see me again and update me on what is going on in their lives. I want to be able to make school a more exciting and safe place for all students. I believe that every child needs a really good teacher who will help them love learning and love going to school.
Not every student teaching placement will be the same. I learned that from experience. You will get either a really great, a decent or a horrible cooperating teacher. But the experience will be what you make of it. Either way, you want the students to feel comfortable and safe with you. As long as the students love you being in the room, everything will fall into place.
One downside to becoming a teacher is all of the New York State certification tests. They are designed for failure. These tests make you start to believe that you cannot make it as a teacher. They will make you start questioning your career path. Imagine graduating and then having the edTPA, CSTs (early childhood math and literacy, childhood math and literacy, and arts & sciences), EAS, ALST, and Students with Disabilities CST, standing in your way of having a full-time teaching job. Without passing scores on all of these certification exams, it is extremely hard to find a lead teacher or even substitute position.
For anyone starting their career as a teacher, I just want to say do not give up your dream and do not feel like it will never work out for you because it will. It might take a little bit of time for your dream to work out exactly how you plan, but it is extremely worth it.