Is university that helpful in acquiring teaching profession?

It was really difficult to me to decide which job to choose, but once I decided to become a teacher, I entered university and expected professors to teach me how to teach*. Further I will provide an insight on my experience as a university graduate and novice teacher.

After my university study, I decided that I am more interested in teaching at private language school rather than state one, simply because I supposed that students are already motivated to study. However, the reality turned out to be far from my expectations and now I can argue that children should be constantly motivated and interested in language learning (some people might have come to this earlier) and it doesn’t matter whether they go to state or private school. What surprised and pleased me about my work experience is that we had weekly two-hour teaching sessions where senior teachers organized workshops on how to use certain teaching techniques. After every session I thought: “That’s what they should have taught us to do at university!

During the study we had several opportunities to teach school children each year except the first one. After this practice we had to write reports on what we did and how interesting it was, but, in fact, I didn’t feel that I was really ready to teach. I mean we presented some grammar topics and exercises, but there wasn’t any systematic attempt to make English lessons interesting to children rather than complete the task and get a grade. Having read piles of scholarly literature on methodology of teaching foreign languages and written a diploma work, I didn’t feel skillful enough to engage students in language learning. Luckily, my boss appeared to be brave enough to let me start teaching career.

That was my story of beginning teaching career. I understand that my university teachers couldn’t have given everything I needed as a specialist, but I think I would have benefited as a teacher, if there had been more practical advisory work during my study. Now I feel that I have just started being a teacher; I am really into this profession and the ways I can develop teaching skills.

What about you? I will be really happy if you share your early experience in teaching and describe how your university knowledge matched it.

*here I apologize for tautology

4 thoughts on “Is university that helpful in acquiring teaching profession?

  1. Thanks for the post, Darina!
    It is a really popular problem among the student teachers around the world – the underdevelopment of pre-service teacher training, which is mostly about theory rather than practical experience.
    According to various research (Tok, 2011; Kim & Cho, 2014), it was found that after their undergraduate studies student teachers felt frustrated while being exposed to the classroom settings, since their expectations and reality didn’t match at all 😦 . Apparently, the reason of such a drastic difference became the lack of students’ practical experience during their studies.
    Also, Tok (2011) found that the positive attitudes of student teachers tend to decline gradually from the beginning till the end of their undergraduate studies, ending up in a meager proportion of student teachers who are still willing to pursue their teaching career. That made me think: what’s wrong? Why our pedagogical practicums do not satisfy our needs, making us feel more professionally accepted?
    Still, there is no concrete answer of how we can improve it, maybe, to start practicing in real settings from the very beginning of the first academic year, so as to fiter those who came to the profession deliberately, not as just to get their diplomas.
    Plus, the more experience you get – the better! I would like to listen to your opinion and the opinions of other readers on this problem.
    Thanks for raising this hot issue, it is my field of interest 😉

    References:

    Kim, H., & Cho, Y. (2014). Pre-service teachers’ motivation, sense of teaching efficacy, and expectation of reality shock. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 42(1), 67-81.
    Tok, Ş. (2011). Pre‐service primary education teachers’ changing attitudes towards teaching: a longitudinal study. European Journal of Teacher Education, 34(1), 81-97.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @w1llyw0nka, like any job, teaching can appear to be disappointing sometimes. Your idea of involving students starting from the first semester is really interesting. As you said, it will help find those who are really interested in this profession. Also, student teachers will be able to discuss and, consequently, overcome professional stresses during their study.

      Another thing is the content of university courses. @lyudwig, I completely support your idea that teaching staff (in any educational institutions) ought to be competent and interested in subjects they teach, because their attitude reflects on students’ one immediately. I remember my professors having been tired of generating test questions, syllabi, and other paper work. As a result, I prioritized private schools rather than state ones as a place to start teaching career.

      @shynarchiq, what kind of help can you introduce to novice teachers? You also mentioned “indifference of colleagues” as one of school realities. What do you think makes teachers indifferent to their profession and/or colleagues?

      Like

  2. Thank you Darina for such a candid post! In fact, this topic is kind of sensitive for me, too. Therefore, my thesis research is dedicated to the pre-service teacher training (or teacher education at universities). To be exact, I will attempt to explore and understand how the pre-service teacher training at pedagogical universities contributes to the development of students’ interests in pursuing a teaching profession after graduation. I chose this topic as I also experienced a variety of difficulties during my study: faculty staff were not inspirational, methodology was taught in a boring way, and these theories we were taught to were far too different from what we found and faced at teaching practicum. As a result, my motivation to stay in a teaching profession and my interest in teaching itself were completely “killed”. Therefore, I was also not willing to work at school as I knew what to expect: unmotivated students, exhausted teachers, a lot of paper work and a demanding administration.

    Looking back, I think that may be if I have had at least the interest in teaching, I would have tried myself at teaching at school. Therefore, this issue of low motivation is not only the problem of students in learning, but teachers in teaching as well. We have to keep in mind that the pedagogical universities have to prepare not the theorists, but competent, skillful, creative and dedicated teachers who will bring this enthusiasm into classrooms. It is like a market trick: if you are not interested in your own product, nobody will like it. The teachers have to be highly interested in their own profession and subjects they teach. Thus, they will trigger students’ interest by this role model and give them an incentive to study.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. To start with, I must say that your post is very interesting to me, as my thesis is connected to the beginning teachers and all the challenges they typically face at dawn of their professional practice. What I learnt from the literature is that unsuccessful first experience caused by the lack of pre-service training seriously reduces novice teachers’ desire to retain in profession. However sad it is to admit, your experience is not unique and many beginning teachers come to profession unprepared to school realities, including indifference of colleagues, abrupt transition and low student motivation.
    I am glad so many people, including you, touch upon this significant issue as teachers are proved to be central agents in school improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

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