October 18, 2021

Warning: 5 Mistakes to Avoid for Career Growth in Teaching

Mistakes to Avoid for Career Growth in Teaching

Jack was an outstanding performer who aced his academics, never had a bad class, and attended an ivy league college. You guessed it right - he also got placed in a good teaching position directly. Jill, on the other hand, was an average student. She attended a community college and faced multiple rejections before getting accepted.

Jack and Jill were great friends who used to go up the hill, their favorite spot when they were young. Both the teachers decided to meet at the same spot after a long time. One of them had become a renowned figure in the profession while the other was stuck teaching in the same place for the past ten years.

Who do you think was more successful? Jack? No, it was Jill. Surprised? Read on to find out where he went wrong.

Not Spending Enough Time on Career Planning

What Jack did wrong: Once he got placed, Jack stopped taking out time to plan and think about, ‘What next?’

What Jill did right:
She started planning for a better career with a better job and started finding ways to upskill herself for the same.

Like planning a lesson helps us achieve the lesson’s desired learning outcomes, career planning helps us achieve our career goals. One of the tricks to do this is to move ahead by going backward. Confused? Let me help you out.

Instead of beginning with short-term goals and getting stuck there, start by keeping the end in mind. Ask yourself, “What motivates me?” or “What is something that I am passionate about?”

Jill did exactly this. She began by deciding the ultimate goal and working backward from there. Ofcourse, define the key milestone in your journey towards the end. The milestones not only keep us motivated but are also indicative of the fact that we are on the right path.

LONG TERM GOAL → SHORT TERM GOALS + STEPS TO TAKE

Becoming Complacent

What Jack did wrong: After getting placed in a premium institute, he became highly casual in his approach and fell behind like the rabbit from the race.

What Jill did right:
Jill, on the other hand, continued to hustle like the tortoise. And, as we know, ended up winning in the long run.

Often, we make the mistake of getting too comfortable in one place. Result? We end up losing our drive and don’t put effort into upskilling ourselves.

“Hey! I am aware of this, but what can I do about it?”

Well, for starters, we can begin by focusing on our potential. Our potential tells us how far we can go. Compare how far you can go with how far you’ve come. It tells you the amount of you potential that is still unexplored. Next?

We start working towards it. We start every day with a new vigour and excitement, knowing that there is so much that we still have to conquer.

Sleeping Hare. Illustration taken from Meridian Financial Partners

Expecting a Linear Career Growth/Progression

What Jack did wrong: Because of his academic life’s relatively smooth trajectory, he was underprepared for the highs and lows that accompany career progression.

What Jill did right:
Jill took every opportunity that headed her way. It was not easy and she faced many struggles, but this helped her become resilient. She realised the importance of persevering through the lows till she reached the high.

Imagine how boring it would be if we had our entire lives charted out, with no twists or surprises along the way. If we think about it, these ups and downs of life are what keeps it interesting! Similarly, Our career is like a rollercoaster - we can either take control and enjoy the ride, or we can simply wait for it to get over.

Ever heard of Sisyphus? He was a figure from Greek mythology, punished to roll a boulder up a hill forever but never reach the top. This repetitive routine came to be known as Sisyphean Circularity. Gone are the old days of working at the same place for 15-20 years with no growth or promotion, stuck in a Sisyphean circularity.

Now is the time to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Allow room for mistakes. How else can we learn and grow?

Life goes on only as long as there are highs and lows, as soon as the heartbeat wave ebbs and falls into a straight line, end of scene.

Underestimating Networking

What Jack did wrong: All of Jack's pals were from his college. While he created a fantastic connection with his friends, he failed to look beyond it, keeping a closed circle and not connecting with people for his professional development.

What Jill did right:
Early on, Jill realized the importance of socialising. Not only did she build a robust support system of close friends, but she also forged strong relations with her peers and seniors in the teaching community.

Often, we limit ourselves to the comfort of our schools for friendships and learning. However, what is required is for us to network with peers across the profession, irrespective of where they teach.

Being a part of communities, forums, and professional social media platforms like LinkedIn provides perfect opportunities for networking and getting up-to-date with the demands of the market. We can also learn from each other, support, and create an inspiring environment.

Networking also enables you to improve yourself with:

  • constructive feedback from seniors in the teaching profession
  • interactions with like-minded peers in the teaching profession

Underestimating the Value of Skill Development

What did Jack do wrong?
Jack got overconfident and ignored his skill development because he thought he knew it all. Education evolves continuously, and we have to keep up with it through continuous upskilling.

What Jill did right?

Jill, on the other hand, realized the importance of skill development and continuously worked hard to improve.

“A single sheet of paper can’t decide my future”. How many times have we heard our students making this joke to chicken out from studying for exams? Well, If we start counting today, we should be able to finish counting in about 92346209 years!

Well, let’s say that sheet of paper is a certificate. Guess what? The proverb still stands. While a certificate may help you make your way into an organization, skills help you perform effectively and grow in the future. Ever heard students praising a teacher because she/he had a great certificate? Me neither.

We are now teaching Gen Z and Gen Alpha. They are tech-savvy and have the attention span of two-year-olds. Teaching these 21st-century kids requires a teacher to possess 21st-century skills.

One of our Suraasa trained teachers, Noura, faced a similar challenge after nine years of teaching. She realised the need to update her skills and enrolled in PgCTL to fulfill it. Now, her students call her a Rockstar! have a look.

And I can share hundreds of stories of other teachers who faced exponential growth once they decided to give upskilling as much importance as a certificate. As the title of Marshall Goldsmith’s book suggests, “What Got You Here Won't Get You There”, constant upskilling is a prerequisite for growth.

To sum up, here’s what you can do to avoid career mistakes:

  • PLAN YOUR CAREER WELL AND IN ADVANCE.
  • BE PROACTIVE.
  • BUILD A STRONG NETWORK OF TEACHERS.
  • KEEP LEARNING.

Need some help with the next step? Suraasa’s mentors have been guiding teachers and helping them plan their careers for a decade now. They’d love to help you too. Schedule a counseling session with a Suraasa Mentor to start planning your career!

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