Lately, I have been considering changing my program from human services to education. I know there is a teacher shortage in this country, and I have always had a desire to work with children. I’m not a strong test taker and fear taking the GACE (Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators). Should I just finish the degree I started, or do you think I should consider being a teacher?
When I received this question, I read through it a few times and noticed two key points I wanted to highlight before I offered any advice. This reader stated they recognized the need for people to study education right now, as there is a teacher shortage, and, furthermore, they stated they “always had a desire to work with children.”
I was a preschool teacher for many years, and there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty: If you have always had a desire to work with children, there may be no better reward than becoming a teacher. Teachers do it all. They not only educate, but they mentor, console, uplift and build. Almost every adult can name at least one teacher who had a powerful impact on their lives and helped to shape them into the adult they are today. If you have a desire to do that and the ability to try, then I highly recommend responding to that call.
It seems to me, after reading this question, that the only obstacle appears to be the GACE. For those of you who may not know, the GACE is a test that all educators must take to become a certified teacher in the state of Georgia. There are two times an undergraduate teacher candidate must take the GACE: Once at the beginning of their program and then, toward the end of their program, they will take more content specific assessments based on what age they want to teach and what their degree is going to be.
So, let’s begin with when you say, “I’m not a strong test taker.” You know what? That makes you an even better candidate to become a fabulous teacher! You recognize a weakness that you have, and you now have the ability to learn how to overcome that weakness to be successful. How many students across the country fear tests because they believe they are not strong test takers? If you could devise a way to study and prepare for the GACE — and pass it, you would have new knowledge in your tool belt that could help so many of your future students, not to mention how you would be able to relate to them and their fears and concerns about taking tests. What I saw when I read that statement was, “I have an obstacle, and right now I have the choice of either overcoming it or falling victim to it.” Which would you rather do?
Before you decide, let me say this: We build our strengths — who we are at our core — by learning to overcome the obstacles in our lives. Think about it. You have skills and abilities that you are strong in, and maybe, you have always been strong in those things. Consider the obstacles you have overcome and the lessons you learned by overcoming them. Consider the confidence that grew inside of you when you learned your hurdles were no longer barriers but that you had flown past them. All you have to do is ask yourself, “How can I find the courage to overcome this obstacle?”
One of the great things about being a Mercerian is that Mercer wants to help you overcome obstacles. For instance, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) offers free GACE workshops to help prepare you for the test. In addition, as someone who has taken both GACE tests, I can bear witness that my professors and my program prepared me completely for the assessments for certification.
If you have a heart and desire to teach, I encourage you to reach out and talk to one of Mercer’s education advisers. In addition, contact your own adviser to discuss what you are contemplating. It never hurts to start the conversation, and when your future is involved, I will always advise you to take time, weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that you feel is in your best interest based on the recommendations, research and advice you receive.
You can do this. If you really want to teach and you have a passion for it, then find a way to make it happen. Don’t allow your limitations to dictate your life. Instead, learn to live outside those limits. Be the person you were born to be.
As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.
Kelly Browning, a master’s student and student success coordinator at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.