Why do teachers become teachers? Why do graduate students choose a teaching profession? What drives them in their way to working in schools, colleges and universities? These are just some of the many questions students ask themselves, before making their own career plans. Needless to say, being a teacher is not an easy task. With the growing diversity of students, opinions, beliefs, and perspectives, teaching is becoming much more sophisticated and complex. Yet, even in the world of rationality where calculated profits matter more than intangible benefits, most teachers still enter their profession “mainly for altruistic reasons and have fairly realistic views of working conditions” (Young, 1995, p.281). At the same time, even in a profession as unpredictable as teaching, career planning plays a huge role and largely predetermines graduate students’ future professional success.
Today, the Internet opens vast career planning opportunities. No, that does not mean that the Internet is the only instrument of career planning. Moreover, that does not mean that the Internet is the only source of teacher vacancies. Rather, it is through the Internet that future teachers can access and use a variety of career planning schemes and resources. One of the most popular is the Mapping Your Future website, which provides a wealth of career planning recommendations to future teachers. The website’s advice to plan a teaching (or any other) career is quite simple: decide upon the career goal, determine the needs and requirements to be met, in order to prepare for and make the chosen career, and write a career plan (Mapping Your Future, 2011). The website also provides a sample of a simple career plan (Mapping Your Future, 2011). It goes without saying, the discussed resource can be quite helpful for those who are still at the very beginning of their career planning process, but can this and many other similar resources suffice to bring future teachers to the desired career end? More often than not, career planning resources echo one another and provide identical information, which is either too general or irrelevant for teachers.
One of the biggest problems is in the way career goals are specified. For a person who wants to be a teacher, there should be a more specific career goal, such as being a college teacher or working with students with disabilities. Another problem is that, before setting a career goal, many students fail to answer the simplest question: “Do I really want to be a teacher?” (Donnelly, 2002, p.2). Finally, most career planning resources fail to predict or at least anticipate problems that are specific to career planning in teaching. Teachers generally face considerable barriers to achieving their career objectives, for instance, closing schools and national strikes (Donnelly, 2002). Eventually, most resources that have been identified during this search are static and do not reflect the dynamic nature of the career planning process, including in the teaching profession. As a future teacher, I will have to update my skills regularly and keep up with the emerging professional and social trends (Donnelly, 2002). Any teacher, whether in a high school or in a school for low-performing students, needs to attend courses, read leading journals, and constantly examine changes in the job market (Donnelly, 2002). Unfortunately, these difficulties are frequently omitted. Finally, it seems that career planning tools provided online, including those offered by Mapping Your Future (2011), do not account for the legal and labor requirements imposed on future teachers and other professions. Experiences and skills may not suffice, when a profession requires holding, for example, a Bachelor’s degree in science and a certificate of learning. Nevertheless, it is through effective career planning that a good beginning of a successful teaching career can be set. Using career planning resources available online can be particularly useful, when future teachers have realistic expectations of their professional growth and enter their profession voluntarily and consciously, and not “at random”.
Planning a teacher’s career is a challenging endeavor. A variety of online career planning resources are available to future teachers. Unfortunately, many of them do not account for the dynamics and flexibility of the teaching profession. Nonetheless, using online career planning resources can be extremely useful for those future teachers, who enter the profession consciously and not “at random”.