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Wondering “Should I Become a Teacher?” America votes "Yes!"

Teacher in classroom teaching math on a whiteboard to her students.

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 1:04pm

Should I Become a Teacher?

Are you thinking of majoring in education for your undergraduate degree? No doubt you’re acutely aware of the weekly headlines highlighting teacher strikes and bemoaning the U.S. teacher shortage crisis. Perhaps all the press has you frequently asking yourself: “Should I become a teacher?” Amid the criticism of the career field, there is some good news too.

Let’s discuss what’s being talked about in the media. Some reasons for the teacher shortage include:

  • Not enough teachers in key subject areas, especially Special Education, Math, Science, and Technology.
  • Years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession.
  • A growing student population. By 2023, there will be more than 52 million students enrolled in U.S. public schools, K through 12, according to NBC News.
  • Fewer people entering teacher-preparation programs.

 In addition to a teacher shortage, education careers outside the classroom are also very much in demand too. Many states are experiencing shortages in non-teaching roles including:

 The good news? America will always need great educators. “Regardless of temporary economic conditions, hiring practices, budget cuts, or any other factors that impact the education system, the need for teachers is timeless and universal,” notes  If you feel called to teach, you can be sure that this is one career path that will always provide you with a purpose.

What qualities do I need to become a teacher?

Here’s a quick checklist of some key attributes possessed by the most effective educators.

Without a deep and abiding passion for the teaching profession, the challenges and stressors can become too much. The greatest educators are dedicated to searching for engaging and innovative ways to make content more interesting for their students. A teacher’s love of a subject can encourage students to become more interested and involved. Teachers who are passionate about their subject matter and who have deep wells of knowledge to draw on can inspire students to learn more, dig deeper, and think harder. This creates a dynamic, enriching learning environment.

An abundance of patience is clearly necessary when teaching new concepts to young or struggling students. But even teens find it to be one of the key attributes of an effective teacher.  Pearson surveyed students ages 15-19 across the U.S. about what they thought made a great teacher. “Personality characteristics related to being a compassionate person and having a sensitivity to student differences, particularly with learners, was the second most frequently reported quality.” Research clearly shows that teacher dispositions are strongly related to student learning and development.

Top-notch time-management and organizational skills are mandatory for educators. Great teachers:

  • Spend time outside of the classroom preparing and designing lessons
  • Have the ability to organize and plan lessons so that they are integrated and cross-curricular
  • Structure their days, lessons, and units in a way that fosters maximal understanding and interest
  • Are constantly learning more themselves about their subject matter and how to teach more effectively
  • Are available outside of class
  • Grade papers quickly with targeted, personal feedback to help students understand

Many teachers lack sufficient funds for classroom supplies and equipment. This requires creativity with how supplies are used and obtained.  Forbes quotes a survey that found: “In 2018, teachers spent an average of $652 of their own money on classroom supplies. This was up 39 percent from 2017 and was the highest amount since the survey started in 2013.” But that doesn’t have to be the case. Perhaps that means seeking out retailers that offer steep teacher discounts, or emailing parents an Amazon wish list filled with needed classroom supplies. Oftentimes teachers can get a lot of outside support, but you might have to ask for it.

Teachers need the appropriate level of assertiveness inside the classroom to deal with disruptive outbreaks of all kinds. They also need to be advocates for their students in dealing with parents and administrators.  Another necessity is that teachers also need to be comfortable advocating for themselves. Perhaps that means asking parents to become more involved in the classroom or for field trip volunteers. Maybe it means asking administrators for continuing education, professional development, or team-building opportunities. In the end, if it’s important to your teaching career, it’s important to the students that will reap the benefits you receive.

Teaching is a passion that bubbles up from within your core. In fact, some people say it’s a calling. If you have a fire and want to mold students for a successful and bright future, consider University of the Cumberlands. Our rich tradition of educating educators and inspiring excellence in the classroom dates back to 1888. If you would like to find out what UC can do for you, let one of our admissions counselors provide you with more information.