From helping a student get to that ‘light bulb’ moment to helping shape the lives of the next generation - teaching is a challenging yet very rewarding profession with the most obvious reward being a source of income. However, there is more to it that does meet the eye but barely recognised, especially by the students.
The profession, in the traditional set up, requires you, the pursuer, not only to have the knowledge of the content of the course, but also to have a humanitarian kind of personality. You must become a motivator, a parent, an inspiration and a leader to the consumers of your service; the students. In other words, when you choose teaching, you are entering a career that has the ability to make a long-lasting impact the lives of not only students, but also the society comprehensively. As in every other career, you are bound to face a myriad fold of competing demands but for each challenge there is an equal or even greater reward. Therefore, it is fit to say that teaching is one career that has meaning.
Traditionally, a teacher is typically the central focus of a lesson and the primary source of information in classroom; they disseminate the material to the students who pay attention and ask questions which they are expected to answer. Sometimes there could be group activities and a lot of homework. This means that there is a personal or one on one encounter between the teacher and the students and, therefore, the contingency of parent-child relationship between the two is quite high.
Online teaching on the other hand is, however, contemporary and involves flipped classrooms which are somewhat the reverse of the traditional learning environment; the instruction is shifted to a learner-modelled arrangement. It delivers instructional content outside the classroom and moves certain activities such as those that would traditionally be considered homework into the classroom. Additionally, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out researches at home while engaging in various concepts with the guidance of a mentor or tutor on an online video or text messaging platform. This clearly means that the possibility of a student having that filial connection with the tutor is very low and thus, the new initiative cannot replace the traditional in such a way or otherwise, but only make aspects of teaching and learning easier and more exciting.
The RMIT University in Australia asked two of their teaching programme managers to share their top five reasons to become a teacher, and they gave pretty good answers:
1. You get to shape the lives of young people (and the next generation)
Teachers get to inspire young people; one day your students may become Nobel and Fields prize winners, top business people, leaders, prime ministers and great artists or well-rounded individuals with a love for learning. By pursuing a career in education, you benefit a society as a whole. The impression you make on the individual in the classroom continues onto the next generation.
2. You get a passport with relatively transferable and recognised skills
The skills you learn in a teaching course go way beyond the classroom - teachers are excellent communicators, collaborators, problem solvers and organisers. They have empathy and are good at building relationships with team members and stakeholders. These attributes are in high demands in all industries and can help you stand out both personally and professionally.
3. There is a high demand for new teachers
The world population is gradually increasing and governments all around the world, especially in developing countries, are fighting hard to reduce the degree of illiteracy in their nations. In Zambia, new schools have been and are still being built and this increases the demand of teachers. In countries like Australia where the retirement rate is high, the demand is even higher.
4. You learn to value both tradition and innovation
As a teacher you are entering a long-standing profession that values tradition and innovation. Teachers are experts at using their own knowledge and the knowledge of their peers to inspire. They have the privilege of designing differentiated lessons for diverse student cohorts, creating meaningful assessments and creating inclusive learning opportunities for special needs and gifted students. They also manage data, research emerging trends, stay on top of current best practices and promote students’ wellbeing.
5. You have the chance to be part of a challenging and rewarding profession.
Watching young people learn and grow is amazing; there Is no greater reward than witnessing a student’s ‘light bulb’ moment. Your class, lessons and the atmosphere you create in your classroom help guide the learning of young people as they advance and achieve their potential. Beyond the individual, teachers help shape the future of the globe by participating in ground-breaking projects with students and providing feedback into curriculum. When you get into the teaching world, you will understand how all these elements work in the classroom and set yourself up to be a leader in education.
THE EPITOME OF YOUR TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMME
A teaching programme is indeed challenging, requiring a combination of exams, coursework, and internships to prepare you for the classroom. However, if you have a clear vision of the path to success, you can become an amazing teacher.
The whole journey begins with an application to the college or university that you want to pursue your career from(Some of the many Institutions that offer training to teachers in Zambia can be found here
). Typically, a Bachelor’s Degree in teaching will take a minimum of four years; the first two years having the bulk of your coursework will be general education requirements such as Math and English. However, the content of the general education may differ a little depending on the subject you want to major and the age range of the students you will be dealing with. During your senior years, you will be gearing up for your student teaching experience. This your path to your certification as a teacher and will comprise of heavy loaded exams, teaching practices and internships. The whole structure may differ slightly depending on your university and country.
Once you have completed all your coursework, exams and internships, and have been certified as a teacher, like any other profession, you will need to get teaching license in order for you to stand in front of the blackboard. In Zambia, this is done by the Teaching Commission of Zambia (TCZ).
In some countries, a Bachelor’s Degree is the minimum certification you need to be eligible to teach. However, countries like Zambia do accept lower certifications such a diploma and a certificate which take less time to complete, but obviously rewarding with a lower salary.
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree you can upgrade your certification to a Master’s Degree which may take about one to two years, depending on your major.
At this point of this article, you are probably no longer part of the number of naive people that always despised this profession. If you had not been sure whether to make it your future endeavour or not, perhaps this piece has helped you decide.