This paper identifies some the motivating factors of selecting teaching as a career. An emailed questionnaire was conducted to identify the key motivating factors they chose to become teachers. A total of 100 questionnaires were sent out asking “Why did you choose teaching as a career choice?” Sixty-Three men and women that are either current elementary education majors or current elementary school teachers participated. The survey result concludes that the motivating factors included a variety of what individuals valued in a job and what they needed in their life at that particular time. Surprisingly, factors such as financial incentives, vacation, and holidays off were not high on my survey results as being the reason they choose teaching as a career. This study proves that there are individuals that choose to go into elementary school teaching to inform, to guide, to enlighten, and to inspire students. My survey participants made comments in their responses that teaching has many rewards but the most valuable one is that they directly affect the lives of the student they teach.
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The aim of this paper is for me to understand why so many chosen teaching as a profession when the appeal for teaching seems to decline year after year. My study involved undergraduates, postgraduates, and current elementary school teachers in the public and catholic school sector. To choice education as a career you must have some type of striving force behind it, such as motivation. Motivation in spending their day with other people’s children shaping their young minds for tomorrow and shaping a young mind is a challenging task and has always been a challenging task throughout the years. And the truth of the matter is the challenge goes beyond just the student, but the challenge also lies with dealing with parents, the other faculty, and all the problems that go along with student problems at home; such as abuse.
Exploring how motivation plays a factor when choosing teaching as a career lead to three main areas from those who decided to make teaching a career. (1) Altruistic reason: a desire to help children succeed, (2) Intrinsic reason: having a special interest or expertise in a subject matter that you want to share or cover, and (3) Extrinsic reason: a person only is interested in the holidays off and summer vacations. My questionnaire results touches on all three reasons.
You must have motivation when choosing teaching in elementary schools as a career. Recto (2005) stated what motivates individuals to go into teaching is very crucial. Motivation is a vital force that drives one’s behavior toward initiating and carrying out the tasks that go along with being a teacher. People’s reason for joining the teaching profession can be explained through their motives to do so. Motivation and understanding the reasons why people enter the teaching profession and what makes them stay or leave is essential, particularly, if we want success in maintaining a stable teaching force that contributes to teacher education quality and excellence. (Soh, 2008).
Motivation is the process that gives one’s behavior and choice purpose and direction. With such direction, the attention of the individual is focused on a particular goal, which is persistently worked on until it is fulfilled. Real teaching requires having motivation because teachers are constantly asking students to take big risks or to try a new way of thinking.
UNDERGRADUATE’S VIEWS OF TEACHING AS A CAREER OPTION
An individual decision to go into teaching or not is believed to be influenced by what they value in a job. (Kyriacou and Newson, 2008). If we are able to identify those factors which individuals consider important in their choice of career, and highlight the factors in teaching which match these, then we might hope to persuade better qualified students to consider teaching. (Johnson and Birkeland, 2003). To help student make the choice of being a teacher should start in elementary school, high school, and in college; teachers should inspire their students so that the students want more than anything else to become a teacher. Teachers need to express to the students frequently that they love teaching. Teachers should also encourage students to become teachers themselves. Overall, teachers must encourage with example, and that example is showing that they love their jobs. Teachers should also encourage directly, suggesting that everyone at least consider teaching as a profession. These were some of the components missing in my own educational career as I prepared as an undergraduate student to become a teacher. In my studies I came across several classmates that appeared to be natural leaders but they opt out of becoming a teacher because they didn’t see any personal satisfaction. It’s unfortunate that the teacher didn’t work more with those individuals to put their talent to work in the classroom, rather than let them slip off and use those talents in a boardroom.
Undergrads who start their studies to become teachers made the decision to train as teachers, and the image of teaching as a career has had some influence in their decision. In other words, the view undergraduate student have of what they want from a career and how they view teaching as a career may well differ from the views of those who choose not to enter teaching. If we are to get a clearer understanding of what attracts and motives certain people into teaching, we may find an answer to making the educational program a more successful one in recruiting student to take up teaching as career. If more well-qualified graduates are to be encouraged to decide to teach, we need to identify those factors which are important to them in choosing a career and then be able to persuade them that teaching offers what they are looking for.
In general, understanding undergraduates’ views of teaching as a career option can useful when coming up with teacher recruitment campaigns to target the now shrinking world of teaching.
Arellano (2004), stated that public dissatisfaction with schools included dissatisfaction with teacher education. In fact, education schools have been criticized as ineffective in preparing for their work and not responsive to new demands. This observation agreed with McCreight’s (2000) pointing out that one reason why teachers leave the teaching profession is their discovery that their teacher education program had not actually prepared them for the realities of teaching. I can relate to that statement by McCreight, 2000. At the Western Illinois University graduation in Macomb, Illinois speaker Dr. Marcus Dewitt, an educator for NASA, said “Teaching is a way of shaping the young minds of today for tomorrow. It’s a challenging task that you the graduation class of 1994 have chosen to make a career.” I believe the challenge Dr. Dewitt was referring to was teaching the unteachable. As a 20 year old female coming out of college the challenge I was experiencing within was motivation on how to get through to the young minds of today. The truth is, teaching was demanding back in 1994 and it still is today. No doubt the choice to become a teacher is a decision to make a significant impact on the future and no career is simply easy or has no problems. But in 1994 I lacked the energy and the conviction that was needed to make a difference in the classrooms.
INTERVIEW RESULTS: INTRINSIC, ALTRUISTIC, & EXTRINSIC REWARDS
A total of 102 questionnaires of the 200 distributed were returned completed. After reviewing the 102 questionnaires: 15 of the sample were male teachers, and 75 were female teachers. Twelve were students at both University of Illinois in Chicago and DePaul University in Chicago. Five are studying Curriculum Arts subjects (such as English and History majors), and 7 are studying Curriculum Science subjects (such as Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics majors).
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My results from that questionnaire will be classified into three categories, namely: (1) intrinsic, (2) extrinsic, and (3) altruistic. Intrinsic reasons dwells on the enjoyment of teaching and the school environment. Extrinsic reasons include the motivation behind one’s liking teaching such as long summer breaks and holidays. Altruistic reasons include being concerned with opportunities for making a difference in the lives of young people. The result of my questionnaire overwhelming agrees that most people motivations for pursuing a career in teaching was due to the altruistic reward. On the contrary, only 7 were motivated by extrinsic rewards.
Other important factors about my questionnaire was the fact that most participates commented that teaching as a career choice is something that they were told would be “enjoyable”. Interestingly a “good starting base salary” was said by all the undergraduate students I questioned. Particularly noteworthy in my study there were a number of individuals mentioned they have a “desire to work with children”, “a job where I will contribute to society” and “a job which gives me responsibility”. In my research, Harms, and Knobloch (2005), states that recruitment effort for future teachers should be based on intrinsic motivation. Teachers who chose formal education as a career had intrinsic motives, while those who planned to pursue non-formal education careers had extrinsic motives. Here are some of the other responses to my questionnaire that stood out and is worth noting:
Altruistic answers included: 1) The ability to contribute to the development of every child that seeks my help. 2) Promote the value of education to not only kids but to the parents as well. 3) Touch the lives of a child and become part of their success. 4) To make our world knowledgeable. 5) The kids help me keep myself learning and abreast of what is happening in the world. 6) Give direction to our lost generation. 7) Be able to leave a lasting legacy in the world is my desire. 8) Be a role model to a nation of kids.
Intrinsic answers included: 1) Enhance my communication skill in and outside the classroom. 2) Develop my self-confidence that I lack. 3) Develop my decision making skills for career advancement. 3) Improve problem-solving skills for my own kids. 4) Enhance my own personal thinking skills. 5) Give myself more leadership skills. 6) Practice my creativity.
Extrinsic answers included: 1) Take advantage of an educational scholarship grant. 2) To become popular in the community. 3) To take long summer vacation trips. 4) Enjoy the 2 weeks vacation Christmas break for traveling. 5) Get employed immediately. 6) Being in a union. 7) Being able to enjoy the government and non-government perks of being a teacher.
On final note that is worth mentioning in this study results is that none of my participates gave mention about the government’s commitment towards education or the dealings with disruptive pupils or even the media images of teachers as a factor in their choice to teach.
Teachers overwhelmingly say they love what they do. They say it allows them to contribute to society and help others. And they would choose teaching again as a career, if they had the choice. If a person has a genuine interest in helping children realize their dreams, and want to play a part in improving our society, then those are enough motivating factors I realize in doing my study to teach. On a personal note just because I have been taught by many teachers does not mean I knew what it would take to be a teacher. The best thing for me was to learn more about the teaching profession, by asking a teacher I knew and admire about how he or she became a teacher and why.
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