Throughout my years at NHHS, I have noticed many students talk about wanting to teach professionally. However, most say they want to teach because they think it will be easy because “all you have to do is teach.” Clearly, they do not know what the job actually entails. Luckily for them, the teachers here at New Haven have graciously offered to share details about their careers.
Ms. McCroskey, English teacher, stated, “I love my subject. English and everything about literature-- I study and analyze that stuff in my spare time. So why not be paid for it?”
Mr. Tucker, history teacher, answered, “I had always enjoyed learning and sharing what I knew with others. It just seemed like a natural fit.”
“There's really nothing else that I want to do,” Mrs. Hoener, math teacher, replied.
Mr. Hagedorn, science teacher, concludes why he wanted to teach because, “it’s not a job if you look forward to it every day.”
Mrs. Borcherding, art teacher, “wanted to do something that allowed me to be creative and help people.”
As with any career path, there is always some sort of obstacle that you need to overcome.
“I didn't take the traditional route to become an educator,” Mrs. Borcherding explained. “I earned my degree in Fashion Design, but after a short time in that industry I decided that the fit was not right and chose to become an art teacher instead. I earned my teacher's certificate in History through ABCTE. I had to take three exams through ABCTE: one was general education, another in U.S. History, and the last was World History. Both history exams were tough, but I was able to pass on my first attempt.”
Mr. Hagedorn stated, “The hardest part was taking the same classes as the premed students. There was a lot of competition.”
Although being a math teacher, Mrs. Hoener thought “the math courses were the toughest.”
“Honestly, my graduate school classes in education were fairly worthless,” Ms. McCroskey began. “I had a few good professors who really taught me about how to be a teacher, but for the most part, you can't learn something like teaching without actually being in a classroom doing it. It's impossible to learn in theory.”
As many students wanting to go into teaching already guessed, “teaching” is a part of teaching. But what does “teaching” entail?
Every day is different. Most people tend to assume that every day will be the same: teach, grade papers, cover the occasional eighth hour, go home. They assume that the teaching is only done during class and that once the school day is done, so is the teacher’s work. That just isn’t the case. A teacher’s day does vary based on the subjects they teach and the structure they prefer to use, although there are some similarities.
Mrs. Hoener spends her morning before school starts helping her students on any homework they are struggling with. Then she spends her day “writing out absent work, grading, filling out discipline reports for late work, and teaching.”
Mrs. McCroskey’s typical day is a bit different. She described it as follows: “Getting to school and immediately being bombarded with questions about homework and essays, editing articles for my journalism class, assessing absences, getting endless makeup work together, responding to emails, making copies, re-adjusting the schedule to accommodate the thousand different changes that the week always brings, and occasionally teaching a class or two.”
Mr. Tucker typically does the following: “Lecture, grading, engaging students with content enrichment activities, and maintaining order in the classroom and hallways.”
For Mr. Hagedorn, it is a bit different. He spends “about two hours grading and [doing] lab preparation. The rest of the day is teaching and coaching. One to two days a week [he also drives] the bus to games.”
Like I said, a teacher’s day isn’t done when that final bell rings.
When asked how much work they do outside of school, Ms. McCroskey stated, “This question. I hate my answer. I spend every waking moment on school stuff. I grade or make lessons or prep resources every night, every weekend. As soon as I get home from school, I start on my second shift-- I'm not at school, but I'm still working. And it's unpaid work too!”
Mr. Tucker answered, “It is really hard to calculate. I certainly did a lot more before technology became more widespread. It is also something I don't try to think about since it is unpaid work and can be kind of depressing. However, last weekend I probably worked around 5 or 6 hours over Saturday and Sunday. Part of the reason for that is because of track season and how far behind I get during the week.”
Mrs. Hoener responded, “[It really] depends on the week. During the off-season, I'm probably at school an extra hour and a half a day. During volleyball season, figure anywhere between 2-5 extra hours per day, not including weekends. During the summer, I'm probably at school around 100 hours.”
She later added, “It would be great if I was paid by the hour.”
As all of the teachers can agree with Mr. Hagedorn, one of the best parts about their job is “seeing success after hard work is put in.”
Because she is an art teacher, Mrs. Borcherding “loves that [she] gets to be creative every single day and that [she] gets to work with so many different materials.”
Mr. Tucker’s favorite part of his job is being able to “[interact] with students.”
Being the excellent math teacher she is, Mrs. Hoener loves “helping students understand math.”
“Actually talking about and analyzing literature. Getting down in the weeds of a passage or poem is my favorite,” Ms. McCroskey professes. “Also linking literature to history-- I can't get enough of that either.”
As with any career path, no matter how much you love it, there will always be that one thing you dread.
For Mr. Hagedorn, it’s “grading papers.”
With art, “the work can get messy,” Mrs. Borcherding pointed out. “...And my clothes are often covered in paint, clay, and/or ink [because of it].”
Mrs. Hoener, our loving yet brutally honest teacher, said “[she doesn’t] like it when students are lazy.”
“The red tape,” Ms. McCroskey explained. “The bureaucratic stuff that comes down from on high from the Department of Education. Rules, standards, new laws, new restrictions-- it's impossible to keep up with and eventually just blends together. Teachers pretty much have their hands tied from day 1, and then we get blamed for it if things don't work or the kids' scores aren't high enough.”
After hearing about the good, the bad, and the indifferent parts of teaching, Ms. McCroskey recommends asking yourself “Is it something you feel in your blood? Do you have a drive to see people grow and learn and achieve?”
Mrs. Borcherding suggested, “substitute teaching when you have enough college hours in, volunteering at a school, or working at a preschool while you're still in high school.”
“Be willing to give up your time,” Mr. Tucker began. “You really won't understand until you start teaching how much time is involved outside the classroom.”
“If you plan on getting rich, that is not going to happen,” Mr. Hagedorn stated. “I would advise not going into teaching if you are not a people person.”
Mrs. Hoener wisely advised that: “You have to be okay with repeating yourself numerous times each class. You also have to be prepared for students to be angry with you when you hold them to a higher standard than they hold themselves.”
Teaching is so much more than just “teaching.” When you become a teacher, you are also becoming a trusted role model to your students. They are going to look to you for guidance inside and outside of the classroom.