If you ever want to be humbled really quickly just become a teacher. I graduated from Texas A&M in the fall with honors and I felt like I was going to change the world one student at a time. However, my full-time job was much harder than just making a difference in my students' lives. Teachers have to create lessons, maintain successful classroom management, and differentiate the instruction for each student all while following a specific set of state standards needed for each subject and grade level.
While teachers know that the job requires juggling each task in this new job new teachers never really know what to expect until in their own classroom. Even though A&M provides us with many opportunities to get exposure to classrooms, student teachers are more like cool aunts since they are not responsible for the students' success or data. At the end of the day, student teachers can leave without having extra paperwork or having to rearrange lessons according to the students' understanding.
When I started my new job, I went in as the cool aunt - and boy was that a mistake. I wanted to give my students plenty of choices and freedom in the classroom. However, most of my students took advantage of my naive ideals and created a chaotic environment. It is much more difficult to take away privileges than it is to give them. That being said, I was already at a disadvantage because I came into the school mid-year after a teacher that had virtually no classroom management. The idea of homework was foreign to my students and they did not receive it well when I began cracking down as the authoritarian parental figure rather than the cool aunt.
After many power struggles and lectures on behavior in the classroom, I began to burn out. I knew it was time for a big change so I pondered on how to reach my students when I obviously did not relate to their daily struggles. Some of them probably did not get meals outside of school or love and respect from relationships. I took a step back and tried to get to know my students individually. I learned that when they feel my personal interest for them they respect me more. The subtle things, such as their preferential seating arrangements or their favorite colors allowed me to show them that I see each one of them and I care about them.
My mom always emphasizes that there is a takeaway from every experience, good or bad. While my job is not what I expected at all, I have learned so much from experience. I now understand why jobs prefer candidates with experience because I have learned lessons that are invaluable to my future career. I also learned how to mean what I say and to always follow through with what I say I am going to do because my students will test me to see if I am bluffing.
Overall, this job has exposed my ignorance about my future career. Pre-service teachers can study and go into the field to hop prepare them for the experience that they will have, but I believe that until the responsibility is on their shoulders, they will not understand all that the job entails. Anyone that thinks teaching is easy or that they can do it needs to go try it before saying so. It is by no means easy, in fact, this has been the hardest job mentally, physically, and emotionally that I have ever had. So my advice to you is to thank a teacher!