I am currently a student at the University of Florida, majoring in
Biology with a minor in Education.  I will be graduating in a semester
or two and would love some feedback about the Education profession. If
you could tell me:
  • What you teach and the grade level?
  • What do enjoy most about teaching?
  • What do you find most challenging?
  • If you could say one thing to an incoming educator, what would it be?
Thank you so much for anyone who responds!
Regards,
Kevin Rowley

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- I've taught 3rd-7th grades (all subjects in 3rd and 4th; science in 5th and 6th; resource in 7th)

- I enjoy the social justice aspect of teaching. I've worked solely in low-income areas, and it means a lot to see that you can make a deep impact on students who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks.

- Hmmm... this is two-fold for me. First, people don't realize how much of your life you give up to be a teacher. Teaching is pretty much a 24/7 job. You can always make your lessons better, spend more time with kids, etc., so it's extremely demanding. Secondly, our educational system is far from perfect, and it's easy to fall into the trap of only noticing what's going wrong.

- My advice:

First, balance your life. Do as much as you can for your students, while still leaving time for yourself.

Second, stay positive. Focus on all the good. Continue to fight for change when you see things that aren't working, but don't harp on the negative. Keep a journal and, every day, write something you could have done better, something you did well, and something that made you laugh. (C'mon -- kids are HILARIOUS.)

Lastly, remember: You only have one year to change every one of your students' lives. Don't squander that opportunity.

Good luck!
Yes, I have two beautiful young girls-they are fun and yes, HILARIOUS...Great answers, insight and advice. I really appreciate the feedback. So far you are the first and only!
Regards,
Kevin Rowley
Dear Kevin,

I teach Physics to 12th graders in the low income areas too. I love to teach , I love to reveal a mistery of
logic , I love the feeling when kids say that they like physics and they master small steps. I like when we become friends. It is very hard to gain their trust and friendship, and attention too.
Good luck. You will never be bored being a Teacher, that's for sure !
Hi, Kevin -

Welcome to the gang! :)

I'm the school librarian/media specialist for a private school that teaches from PreK3 all the way through 12th grade. Yup, big range, and it keeps things lively - in the space of a couple of minutes I can go from assisting 3rd graders in finding historical fiction for a book report to teaching high school freshmen how to use the tools in a subscription database. I am/have been the yearbook adviser, the senior project adviser, a technology teacher and a literature teacher.

The thing I love most about teaching is those moments when you get to see a kid bloom. Sometimes it happens all at once, when a student suddenly makes one of those big connections and "gets it", and sometimes it sneaks up on you, when you turn around and realize that one of the multitude of techniques and tricks you have tried has worked, and a previously struggling or disaffected student has found the groove they needed. Of course, sometimes the real trick is figuring out which thing (or combination thereof) that you tried actually worked - or whether it was just that the student finally grew up enough to reach the necessary point of maturity... I have to say I also love the camaraderie I am fortunate enough to have with the other teachers at my school. It's really incredible to see the way these dedicated and talented professionals come together and give of themselves to make sure the education provided at our school really is the best they can make it.

Quite honestly, although there are plenty of challenges out there (and I definitely give *high* ranking to Katy's answer about people not realizing just how demanding a teacher's job is) I think the biggest challenge for me is trying not to do too much - knowing when to stop and walk away, and make time for myself and my family. It's a critical issue, tho, because burnout is always hovering right there, waiting for you to run out of gas.

So leading off that, the one thing I would say to an incoming educator is to be patient with and kind to yourself - there is so much you need to know that will only come with in-the-classroom experience, and those first few years are going to be tough as you climb up the learning curve. Make it a priority to find time to balance your own needs - including some R&R - with the demands of your profession, and find a mentor who will help you with the balancing act as well as with learning the professional skills you need.

Best of luck!

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