So What Do You Want to Teach?
When a person introduces themselves to you as a teacher, the question that you invariably ask is “So what do you teach?” How the person answers that question can tell you a lot not only about how they feel about their calling as a teacher and how they feel about their students as well. Usually, you get one of two answers. Either the answer is “Oh I teach the fifth grade” or “I teach Algebra”. If the answer is a grade level, the teacher probably handles more than one topic. If the answer is a topic such as algebra, then the teacher is a specialist in that topic bringing that area of knowledge to any gathering of students who are assigned to his or her room.
If you are thinking about becoming a teacher, you might pose the question to yourself, “So what do you want to teach?” Its a question that is loaded with meaning. Because how you answer that question may determine if you are a person who has a passion for a particular topic that is looking for an audience, any audience, to listen to it being taught or if you are a true teacher. Because if you ask a true teacher what they want to teach, the answer will come back, “I want to teach students.”
That analysis may seem a bit snobby but the distinction is an important one. The distinction will tell the tale about how well that teacher will relate to his or her students and how long such a teacher will last in an academic setting. You can tell when you have met a subject-based teacher. They only speak with passion about the topic. They have an absolute fascination which may border on an obsession with the topic area. And they have very little tolerance for anyone who does not share that passion for the topic.
So is that person a teacher? Well in the most general sense of the word, yes he or she is because they do have the job of passing their specialized knowledge along to a student group. But it might be more apt to call such a teacher a lecturer or a recruiter because their real devotion is to the topic, not to the students. A subject-based teacher is impatient with students who either are not showing talent and passion for their topic area or who interrupt their subject-based monologue with questions that only break his stream of thought.
The root word of the term “teacher” is “teach”. The definition of teaching then is to build knowledge and skills in a student. You may have found the use of the term we used “a true teacher” a bit elitist. But a teacher who is in the career field of teaching because they have an unquenchable passion for seeing students become educated and who takes delight from seeing students “light up” when they “get it” is indeed a true teacher.
A true teacher is far less obsessed with a perfect discussion and dialog about the topic at hand as they are obsessed with taking a body of young people and turning them from a random gathering of kids into “students”. A true teacher is as much concerned with inspiring a desire to learn as he or she is with the topic being taught. And for a true teacher, the student’s experience is more important the outline of the day and if they can take an hour and turn a disinterested youth into a passionate student of learning, that is an hour well spent.
We went through this exercise so you can apply some of these criteria to your own desire to become a teacher. Examine your motivations. If you are going into teaching to make converts to your love of your subject area, you will do some good no doubt. But because you will encounter frustrations and meet students who will never share you, love of your topic, the danger of burn out is high and the possibility of a long career in teaching is low.
Be a “true teacher” and seek the good of your students. And if you go into the work to create students from disinterested young people, you are in the right line of work and will enjoy a long and rewarding career in teaching.
I Want to Teach in Your School
A job interview to teach in a public school or in any institution of learning for children or youth is unlike any other kind of job interview. And it is worth our time to discuss what makes that kind of job interview so different so you can go in and land that job you want and get the next step of your career in teaching well on the way.
In a job interview for a teaching position, two things dominate the discussion. The first one is the regular interview stuff such as your résumé, your background, your education, any publishing history you have, and your job history. So to quickly get that part of the interview in order, bring a well-prepared resume with you. Now when preparing your resume, keep in mind that the resume does not get you the job. The resume gets you in the door for the interview and serves as a skeleton outline of who you are so the school and the administrator interviewing you know that at a basic level, you have the credentials to be a good teacher at their school.
It is the second aspect of a job interview for a teaching position that will make the difference between whether you will be hired or not. And that is how the interviewer does when he or she envisions you teaching in one of the classrooms in their building. During the interview, the questions that are asked and the way the interviewer looks at you tells you that he or she is picturing you teaching the students in their school and how you represent yourself as well as your demeanor and personality are what will give that administrator a good feel for your teaching style as well.
So customize everything about your interview presentation around looking and acting like the kind of teacher this administrator wants in his or her school. You can start with your outfit. Don’t dress so formally that you bring the appearance of a harsh schoolmarm. Look at the actual wardrobe you will wear when you are teaching a class of this new boss. Pick out something visually pleasing, relaxed, and yet professional so the administrator feels that you would be a warm and yet efficient personality to influence young minds in their school.
In an interview setting, we often worry about what we will say in response to questions. But what will be the determining factor in whether you land the teaching position is not what is said verbally but what you communicate with your facial expressions, the way you express your ideas, and the enthusiasm you bring to the interview. These are subtle nonverbal elements of your interview demeanor that the interviewer may not even know are influencing the decisions of who to hire. But they are powerful massages that can really only be communicated through inflection, genuine interest in the interview process, and personality.
There are a number of questions the interviewer is trying to get answers to that he or she can never really ask out loud. But these questions are very much a part of this interview and the extent to which you answer these questions correctly will make all the difference when the hiring decision is made. Some of the questions include…
. Does this person love children?
. Does this person have a passion for teaching?
. Will this person fit in with the culture of our school?
. Will the students enjoy this new teacher?
. Is this teacher even-tempered and able to handle a crisis?
. Will this teacher comply with our policies and procedures?
. Is this teacher a creative person?
. Will this teacher stay with us for a long time so I don’t have to do this interview again?
All of these questions can be answered in the way you present yourself, in your smile, your laugh, and your ability to relax during the interview. The kinds of stories from our past and how you tell those stories will surface that you really do love to teach and you are the kind of teacher who bonds naturally with students and brings out the best in them. And if you can get that message across during the interview, you will land the job every time.
Patience is not something that all human beings have, and to be a good teacher it takes a lot of patience. Be patient and listen to their children I think that the number one factor to understand and educate your children if you do not hear what they think you will never come to understand how to educate or help whatever the situation, Being a teacher is like being a mother since the difference is that they are not your children and the children absorb everything they are taught at home and at school, a very important factor is to have good communication with the parents of your children. You manage to understand their parents many times the work of teaching can be made easier because education starts at home.