I'm just about 30 and have been teaching for 5 years, so far in Gingin, Yanchep and now in a big secondary college in the northern suburbs. I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in 2002 to Germany, and when I came home did my undergraduate degree in Sports Science and ECU, with the intention of being a PE Teacher. After 3.5 years of that, I headed off overseas again (The Netherlands) to nanny and travel. There may have been a boy involved. There isn't anymore. Not the same one anyway.
I came home from travelling and dove into my Dip Ed at UWA majoring in PE and Health, minoring in Science. It was, without a doubt the hardest year of my life - so Dip Edders, I feel your pain. It's a tough year, with A LOT of work, pracs, jobs on the side to keep the money coming in, a camp, and trying to keep a decent social life happening. I didn't really fit in THAT well with my dip ed crew. I was friendly enough with everyone, but I was never part of a group. A lot of them had been through the Human Movement course together and had long established friendships, whereas I came in cold. I lived in West Leederville which wasn't far at all from uni, and that may have been a reason I didn't really get into the uni life. I also didn't really WANT to. I found that UWA, while being a fantastic uni, has an inflated sense of importance when it comes to the social lives of it's students. I felt like I was expected to live there, study there, party there, with the same people, all the time. If you didn't, you just weren't part of the scene. Because I was outta the loop a bit, I wasn't sure if teaching was really for me, I had a lot of self doubt in the first parts of my time there because I wasn't sure I was acceptable or good enough.
That all changed when I went on my first prac to Perth Modern School, where I had a great mentor and great kids. I got an awesome report, learnt so much and realised that when you put me in front of a classroom I love it, and I'm good at it. Not without flaws of course, but I can get it done, and come out the other end, which a big chunk of my fellow dip edders did not do. I felt like there were favourites in the course, the guys running it had their pets, I was not one. I felt like I went against the grain at uni, but at work was totally different.
I went to Belmont City College, the kinda school with lockdowns, kids getting their shivs confiscated and regular punch ups. Where just keeping all kids in their seats for the whole lesson was a win. I had some great lessons there, I had some awful ones. At the start of my time there I left school to go to the shops and just sat in my car letting everything sink in. What do you mean the kid at the back of my yr 9 class has raised his sister on his own because his parents are whacked out on drugs? The yr 11 girl in my PE studies class is really often not at school because she has a baby and can only get it taken care of sometimes and he parents disowned her. Be careful around that kid - he is extremely sexist and volatile. Oh and the boy in your soccer class has a case underway regarding the sexual abuse by his uncle when he was younger, so when he flips out, let him. But at the end of it, I felt like I could do this - and these kids, they NEED people to work with them, to believe in them and to be the ONE smiling face they see every day, in the ONE safe place they have.
But I'm still unsure of how much confidence my lecturers had in me.
The point of this post - don't let others decide how good a teacher you'll be. You may not really understand Piaget or Maslow, but you understand your content and the kids respond to you, like you and learn from you - and you love it. That's what matters. As teachers, we are met with constant criticism and a bit of scorn - all those holidays, and you can leave at 3:30 every day? Just babysitters! There are so many people with opinions about what we do, why we do it, how we do it. When you let ignorant parents, or people you know devalue your job, your work suffers. When you work hard, have pride in your work and aim to be as good as you can possibly be, you make a difference. At the end of the day we know the difference we make. We know a good teacher, and good practice when we see it. Regardless of what other people say about our jobs, we know what we have to do and why we're doing it.
If you're a teacher you HAVE to give a shit.
If you really do, you'll be amazing. You'll change lives.