Deciding whether a Master of Arts in Teaching is right for you

When deciding whether to go post-grad for Teaching, fretting about whether you can pass the classes should be one of the furthest things from your mind. The main things – the only things – you should be focusing on is whether you can do the job that lies beyond the diploma, and whether you can love it.

Teaching requires a lot more than a slip of parchment saying that you know what you’re doing. You’re not just a “teacher”; you’re a psychologist, program director, councilor, playmate, warrior, and guide all rolled into one. Sometimes you’ll be a judge, other times, the police. Sometimes you’ll be a doctor, and sometimes you’ll be the cleanup crew. If you ever have the notion that giving lectures and passing handouts is all you’ll do, go find another career. This one’s not for you.

To to this job, you need to be able to cope with the bad days, and there will be a lot of them, along with the good. You have to be ready for “the attitude”, the snot-nosed know-it-all that likes to correct your textbook, the bully, the goth, the depressed poet, and all the other flavors of human personality that will pass through your classroom, on their way to their own futures.

You have to be able to put yourself last. Your job, above all else, isn’t grading their tests, it’s giving them real knowledge that they’ll need later. It isn’t about you at all – it may be your career, but the job description might as well read ‘give of thyself without pause or hesitation, so that the children may grow.’

Teaching can be the most frustrating job in the world, at times. You’ll almost never be thanked, never be recognized, and never get rich. Is this something you can love?

On the positive side, you do get a lot of time off every year. But, considering all the downsides to this path through life, does it mean enough to be worth it to you? Will you be passionate about your work after being subjected to 30 years of abuse and torture?

If making the world better through education means more to you than your own ego, then you might make it. If knowing you’ve done your best to help your youngsters succeed is the only thing that lets you get to sleep at night, you might do O.K. If you welcome the anguish and stress, just to make it to that moment where you reach the thrill of watching that one student’s face light up as he/she breaks through, and achieves real understanding, then this is the job for you.

Teaching is unlike any other field in the world. It’s a sort of secular priesthood – you need more than an education of your own behind you, you really need to have “the calling” if you’re going to do this job at all, and you really really need to care if you’re going to do it well.

You have to be a lot more than just ‘qualified’ to do this work, you have to love every moment of it, not just tolerate it. If that’s you, then you might just want to go ahead, and get that Masters.