The number of students getting bachelor’s degrees in education has declined over the last 30 years, making up only 4% of over two million degrees issued in 2020. This drop could be happening because of various reasons, including education majors not getting the support they need in the transition to the professional world.
Not only must students be aware of the unique challenges that come with teaching in the real world, but they must also develop their professionalism to be as confident and effective in their role as possible. Guidance on how exactly to do this could make a difference in inspiring a new wave of professional educators.
Before we offer tips on how you can improve your professionalism to prepare for the work world, let’s touch on some of the challenges education majors encounter when they’re transitioning into their professional educator roles.
Challenges Education Majors Face When Entering the Professional World
Transitioning into the professional world and working with students is much more challenging than most people think. The nerves that come with entering the classroom as a teacher could make a student second guess their decision to become an educator.
It’s also hard to grasp just how difficult it is to work with a variety of students on a full-time basis when you’re in college. It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing environment that you must be ready for if you want to succeed.
Finally, if you start teaching right out of college, you’re still pretty young. You may not feel like you’re the established professional educator that you are because of this. You’re still growing into a mature adult. So, you may not think you have the leadership skills to work with children effectively, hindering your confidence and growth in the profession.
Thankfully, there’s a way to thrive despite these challenges in the transition phase.
Tips for Mastering Professionalism as an Educator
It’s much easier to navigate challenges in the professional world when you exhibit professionalism.
This is because professionalism involves being confident, setting high standards for how you work, and showing how much you care about your students. You’re willing to tackle obstacles to provide a positive educational experience.
To master professionalism as an educator, start with improving your self-image.
Improve Your Self-Image
Being a successful teacher requires confidence, so you can effectively communicate with your students and colleagues. You need it to take on challenges and find adequate solutions. You need confidence to be successful in all that you do as a teacher.
But to have confidence, you must first have a positive self-image. How you look at and feel about yourself can affect your confidence. If you look at yourself in a good way, you’re more likely to act with conviction. On the other hand, if you have a negative perception of yourself, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and stress resulting from these confidence issues will follow.
You can improve your self-image by practicing self-care. Doing things that nurture your mind, body, and soul will bring you closer to yourself. You’ll develop a positive relationship with yourself that results in a favorable self-image. Self-care activities can be simple, like getting enough sleep and eating right, or more detailed, like going on a weekend getaway every quarter.
If you need additional support for improving your self-image, try therapy. A therapist can help you further flesh out your self-image issues and develop a plan for addressing them and coping with triggers.
Prepare for Working With Kids
Working with kids is no easy task. Their minds, emotions, and behaviors are still developing, causing them to make decisions and do things that may surprise you.
If you aren’t ready for these types of ups and downs, it may cause you to have negative interactions with your students that hurt them and their educational journey. It could also harm your career progression because you’ll appear unprofessional and unable to handle the job.
Luckily, there are ways to prepare yourself for working with kids. Ensure you’re physically ready for all the moving around you’ll be doing as a teacher. Build a wardrobe of clothes that are professional, comfortable, and allow you to be mobile. And finally, grow your empathy, patience, and enthusiasm.
Preparing to work with kids full-time ahead of time will help you feel more confident in your abilities and ultimately appear more professional.
Be a Positive Role Model
If you want to exude professionalism, work on becoming a positive role model. A positive role model inspires others to live productively and meaningfully. They have integrity. They hold themselves to high standards. They’re someone others can look up to. All of these things are a part of professionalism.
To become a positive role model, you should first identify what you do well and what you need to work on. As you work on your weaknesses, you become a stronger, more well-rounded person. And if you share your journey with your students, you’ll become someone they can relate to and look up to.
Positive role models are also transparent and honest. Communicate openly with the people around you to become a more effective communicator and listener. Finally, establish a set of core values that you’re committed to living by. You need them to ensure you always conduct yourself with integrity.
Feeling and conducting oneself like a professional doesn’t come naturally to every education major transitioning into the professional world. The unique challenges in the process don’t make it any easier. But by applying the tips above, you can master the art of professionalism and move into a professional education role seamlessly.