Advice from Williams Grads

Favorite Thing about Being a Teacher

  • It’s incredible to be a part of such a positive, highly functioning team of teachers and administrators that are committed to making sure 100% of our students are prepared for college preparatory high schools.
  • I never stop learning
  • Amazing colleagues
  • Each day is different
  • Loved the kids
  • I am truly having an immediate impact on improving my community
  • I’m never bored and get to be very creative!

Least Favorite Thing about Being a Teacher

  • The only disadvantage is that we hold both our students and ourselves to such high expectations that it becomes your life and not just your job.
  • My least favorite part of teaching was some of the bureaucratic paperwork that was required in a public school.
  • I detest MCAS and other tests that don’t actually inform my instruction, and sometimes I get tired of “teacher” classes. Some days I do not want to reflect or play a get to know you game—some days I miss sitting in a stimulating lecture consisting of a lecture on adult level content. I take what I learn in those classes back to my school, just as I take information from “education” classes.
  • Least favorite thing is not having enough resources in the schools I teach and tutor at to really help the kids with everything they need.
  • Hated the planning
  • Huge amount of time and pressure that goes into teaching—you are constantly “on” and for your first few years, you will be bringing work home with you all the time
  • Work never really ends because I have to do a lot of planning at home after school

What do you wish you had known as a Williams undergrad

  • I wish I had known more about the large range of jobs in education that were outside of the immediate classroom teacher model.
  • I wish I had been able to take a wider variety of classes in education, such as educational policy, educational equity, etc. I think future teachers need to be conversant about the pros and cons of charter schools, NCLB, teacher unions, standardized testing, etc. I also wish that I had gotten teacher certification right away; even though it is not required to teach in charter or private schools, it would be really helpful to give me more options now.
  • In terms of advice, I spent my first year out of college teaching English in Spain and this year abroad was an incredible gift—it allowed me to grow personally and professionally in a cross-cultural context. It gave me the opportunity to observe many different Spanish teachers, practice lesson planning as a teaching assistant and further develop my own teaching style which made my first year of “real” teaching back here in the States so much easier.
  • My advice for students is to look at the culture of a school as they job search. If possible, look for an environment where teachers value collaboration, where there is strong leadership, and where support systems for new teachers are in place. Teaching is a very rewarding profession, especially when there is a community of colleagues with which to work.
  • The best way to learn about teaching is to do it and get in the classroom in any capacity. What you are teaching is important cause you are at your best when you are passionate about what you are teaching. However knowing who you are teaching, the individual learning styles and the stresses and developmental battles they go through every day is even more important.
  • I would have spent more time on my other activities had I realized I was not going to get a head teaching job directly out of college, no matter how qualified.
  • I wish I had had a better understanding of the different job opportunities that were available to me. I felt like I had done my research, but realize now that I didn’t look at a lot of great potential opportunities.
  • I wish I had more of a sense of the breadth of public education reform and the opportunities within public education for recent college grads, both in and out of traditional public schools.
  • Think early about what you might want to teach—and if that might be high school, major in the subject area that interests you.
  • I wish I could have shadowed a teacher just to get the sense of how jam-packed a day of teaching really is. It would have been nice to know the differences between elementary, middle school and high school teaching, as well.
  • It would have just been great to have more exposure to the field during my time at Williams. Professor Engel was a fantastic resource and the Advanced Seminar in Teaching & Learning was a fabulous class with a wonderful “teacher’s helper” placement aspect; however, perhaps another level of this for an additional experience in the field would have been great.
  • A teacher’s experience has a lot to do with the administration you work for. It can make or break your feelings towards teaching.
  • I think that any current students interested in the profession should really try to shadow a teacher or do some volunteer work so they can see if they actually are interested in a certain subject or grade level before they devote time, energy, money, etc. into potentially going to grad school for something they don’t end up liking all that much.