Lead Science Teacher at KIPP Massachusetts Public Charter Schools
3 months ago
I would say that the most important thing for me to be a successful educator is to have high level executive functioning skills, be able to prioritize tasks and set boundaries (+ respect yourself enough to keep them).
A huge part of my decision to pursue Education, at the time, was deciding what kind of teacher I wanted to be. If you want to work with students, there are so many opportunities outside of the classroom to pursue this. Before and after school programs are a great example of places to start working at to further help you decide if this is the career path for you. I'd also recommend engaging in Adult literacy courses, and self-examining your own passions, deciding who you want to work with and if your dream is bigger than a classroom. education has so many different outlets, it's nearly impossible to explore them all!
Organization and commitment is what I would say! It's pretty dang hard not to take work home even if you're a very productive person. When I majored in education I thought the main skills were creativity and being personable - while these are both important, I'm finding more and more each day that organization is way more of my time than anything else.
I strongly suggest getting started in a program where they place you with a dedicated, involved mentor.
The skills you need are: the Biblical patience of Job – almost everyone you interact with will have it out for you and will blame things on you that you have zero control over. You will also be asked the same questions several hundred times a day. Additionally, you need to be extremely organized and systematic. You will have possibly almost 300 students to keep track of, and you need to have some kind of system and know it well. You will not be given much of any guidance or assistance with this, and will have to figure it out on your own. You also need to be willing to say goodbye to your personal life between August and June, because in order to teach well, you will need to take large amounts of work home with you – on the order of several hours per night. You also need a rigorous immune system, because it takes an act of congress to get a substitute if you’re sick.
Although I'm still finishing my degree in education, from my experiences thus far I agree that it takes a lot of patience and dedication. Education and being a teacher is something that is driven by passion and desire to teach others. If it's not something that you enjoy doing, it will become a painful task. I also think that to succeed as a teacher, you need to care about the students and constantly be working to improve your teaching skills and strategies. More often than not, how well you teach is how well they learn.