About Christina Gil

Christina Gil was a high-school English teacher for sixteen years, but she recently left the classroom to follow a dream and move with her family to an ecovillage in rural Missouri. She believes that teaching creative writing helps students excel on standardized tests, that deeply analyzing and unpacking a poemis a fabulous way to spend an hour or so, and that Shakespeare is always better with sound effects. When she is not hauling water to her tiny home, she can be found homeschooling her two kids or meeting with her neighbors about the best way to run their village.

I can’t imagine having any other job besides that of a teacher.  In fact, I think it is the greatest job in the world. But I definitely had my moments when I doubted whether or not I had made the right choice.  And I think that I worked with plenty of people who had made the wrong career choice. There are some people who should be teachers, and there are some who shouldn’t.

You probably shouldn’t be a teacher if…

You are uncomfortable making mistakes.  No matter how much preparation or planning you do, you will mess up.  The lesson that seems so great on paper might completely flop—fifteen minutes into a forty minute class.  Students will witness your spelling mistakes on the whiteboard, they will call you out for adding the points incorrectly on their quiz, and they will challenge your definition of how to write a thesis statement.  Sometimes, often, they will be right, and you will be wrong.  If you can’t handle having 25 people witness you mess up on a daily basis, perhaps you should look into another profession.

If you can’t handle having 25 people witness you mess up on a daily basis, perhaps you should look into another profession. Click To Tweet

You aren’t willing to make a fool of yourself on a regular basis.  If you want your students to connect to you, if you want them to try something new or take a risk or put themselves out there in any way, you will have to do the same.  This might mean dressing up in a ridiculous costume to celebrate a special day or doing a dance in front of the class to demonstrate an idea or telling an embarrassing story about your life to illustrate your point.  The coolest teachers aren’t necessarily the ones who look cool all the time.  If maintaining your image is important, you might want to look for a different job.

The coolest teachers aren’t necessarily the ones who look cool all the time. Click To Tweet

You can’t accept the fact that all in all you’re just another brick in the wall.  You will get a new directive or state standard or national standard or expectation or goal or smart goal or department initiative every single year.  You might get all of the above.  You’ll have to figure out a way to do what is expected of you, and you will have to figure out a way to do it well (so that you can get back to the actual teaching).  You will also have to monitor study halls, walk around the building checking for passes, and pick up trash that has been thrown on the floor.  If you work in a public school, you are working in a big system.  And you are just a very small part of that system.  If you can’t figure out a way to work with all the requirements, you might want to reconsider your choice.

You don’t feel comfortable walking into a room and taking charge of everyone in it.  The moment you ask a student to do something rather than politely but firmly tell them to do it, you have lost the room.  The moment that you engage in a power struggle hoping to win instead of knowing that you have been in charge the whole time, you have lost.  If you don’t have enough confidence to tell a room full of people what to do, you might want to look into a different career choice.

You are looking for a venue to spread your vast knowledge.  It’s about the kids, not about you.  You are not the center of the classroom, you are not the most important person in the room, and everyone is not there to give you attention or to feed your ego.  If you think that you will just talk at students all day every day, imparting your wisdom, you have got it all wrong.  If you want to become a teacher so that you can stand behind a podium, lecturing a rapt audience, you might want to reconsider your decision.

You don’t like kids.  No matter how much you think that you are covering it up, they know.  No matter how many please’s or thank you’s you give them, no matter what kinds of classroom posters you hang up about respect or courtesy or how we should treat each other, students know when you don’t like them.  So if you can’t figure out a way to genuinely like and appreciate every single kid in the room—including the one who just drew a picture of male genitalia on the desk or the one who has snuck a cell phone into class for the third time that week or the one who just plagiarized a paper, again—then perhaps teaching is not for you.

I know that good teachers are always needed, but you’re not doing anyone any favors if you become a teacher when it isn’t a good fit.

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