Too Shy To Be a Teacher?

It must really stink to know exactly what you want to do in life, but be held back by some extraneous detail that isn’t substantively related to the job, really.

Like Amanda, who wants to teach, but isn’t sure about the ability to stand in front of people and talk.

I am a sophomore in college and this is my last chance to change my major.

The last chance to change your major and graduate on time, you mean. πŸ™‚

I’ve changed it so much already because my interests seem to come and go.

No worries, that’s about normal. For those of you reading at home, my advice is simply not to declare one until you’re forced to do so.

Even if you think you know what you want to do, you can always take the right classes to fulfill the major that you THINK you’ll be choosing, while avoiding the paperwork and heart-wrenching divorce from a crestfallen academic advisor lest you decide to abandon it later. πŸ™‚

too shy to be a teacher
If you understand why I chose this pic to accompany this article, leave a comment and say so.

I’m pretty sure that teaching high school history is what I want to do with my life.

That’s a fine profession. Good choice.

However I’m scared to death of talking in front of people and I am so easy going and introverted I am afraid I won’t be able to have control over my class. How do I overcome this fear of mine?

Practice. πŸ™‚

That’s my advice on the talking-in-front-of-people issue, anyway. I’ll leave the “how to control a high school classroom” question to others in the comments section — teachers, frequent presenters, maybe Edward James Olmos, etc.

But public speaking is something most people can get used to. In fact, fear of public speaking is one of the most common adult fears. Thousands upon thousands of really good public speakers used to be just like you — terrified of speaking in front of crowds. Even small crowds, like classrooms.

I didn’t like speaking at all when I first started my search engine advertising agency. For me, as for most people, it was a confidence issue. I used to envision people sitting in the audience listening to me and thinking I was full of shit, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, etc. I envisioned the audience being full of heckler types.

I have absolutely no idea why I envisioned this, because that’s never been the reality.Β Over time, I realized that most people listening to me speak were either a) interested in hearing what I had to say, or b) uninterested in what I had to say and much more interested in reading, texting, sleeping, or just staring off into space.

Those people are just fine with me, actually. My feelings aren’t the least bit hurt by the existence of people who don’t think I’m the absolute most interesting thing going on in the room at this very moment. I’ve sat through dozens of speakers, zoned out and texting and emailing people instead.

As long as those people don’t disrupt me, then hey, no harm no foul in my book.

Now, you’ll be teaching high school kids, so you’re likely to have more heckler types and LOTS more who simply don’t want to be there, and any advice I give you about how to control high school hecklers would probably be inappropriate (Taser anyone?). So I’ll let the more civilized masses help you there.

Here are a few generic suggestions, though, for getting more comfortable speaking in front of groups:

a) There’s a group called Toastmasters that’s dedicated solely to helping people improve their public speaking. Join your local group — it’ll make you a comfortable public speaker in a hurry.

b) Practice speaking in front of a group of your friends. Even a handful of them for 15 minutes or so is plenty of time to start getting your feet wet and give you some familiarity with the process of getting up in front of people and talking. Plus, they won’t throw things at you if you suck initially.

c) Practice on young kids. They’re good in a couple of ways. By and large, they’re much more fascinated with you (briefly, anyway) than adults and will probably listen starstruck for a while. Also, they’re much less conspicuous when they’re bored or uninterested, so you’ll get used to moving on and pushing forward when part of your audience is clearly not into you. And, perhaps in this case, begins rolling around on the floor, punching their neighbor or screaming about how “THIS IS BOOOOOORIIIIIIIING.”

Once you’ve sat through that, watching bored adults text and email is no big thing.

— How about you guys? Any public speaking tips or general words of encouragement for Amanda? Let us know in the comments below!

48 thoughts on “Too Shy To Be a Teacher?”

  1. Fake it ’till you make it. I did an internship my junior year of high school for my high school’s freshman-sophomore band– teaching my own classmates! And, like you, I’m a total introvert and extremely shy. So when I started, everyone thought I was a pushover. I was a pushover! If/when you become a teacher, do what I didn’t at the beginning: hold your head high, shoulders back, smile, speak clearly and loudly. Use all of your acting skills to go from Amanda to Ms. (lastname), even if you feel stupid doing it. You’ll get good enough to trick them that you have total confidence, and it won’t take long for you to have that confidence. You can do it, girl!

  2. I was in the same boat as you. I graduated having a transcript that included 5 different major changes, then decided to go back to graduate school to become a teacher. I was shy and hate talking in front of people. I still hate talking in front of people, but a classroom seems to be a different environment. If you can get your kids involved and talking, it makes it much easier for you and the class [I work with elementary kids, though, and don’t know how well to get high schoolers involved and discussing]. But if you, in your classroom, can get the class involved and shift some of the talkig to them to explore the ideas and concepts, it’ll be much easier for you. Promise.

  3. All of the above advice is good. I’m a teacher myself, and just like you, very shy. In fact, we did a ‘Personality Workshop’ as a professional development activity and I was the only introvert in our school staff. However, although I dread public speaking, I’ve never really had a problem standing in front of a class. This could also be because I’m very enthusiastic about the subject matter I’m presenting, and I feel like my students should be just as fascinated about it as I. (Who wouldn’t go crazy over the history of pi, right?) Anyhow, you will be nervous at first, but give it some time…. it will all melt away. Honest. =)

    Best of luck!

  4. In a lot of places (most, I believe), aspiring teachers have to do a semester (or some other period) of student teaching under the mentorship of an actual teacher. Additionally, most of these programs have courses either dedicated to classroom management or which incorporate it into the curriculum. It just takes practice, and very few people are good at teaching right out of the gate.

  5. Toastmasters would be my first suggestion also. Dale Carnegie training is great as is speech classes in school. Teacher training will involve student teaching, teacher aide training, and probably more I am not aware of.

    Ry’s suggestion’s were good and as the Judge says…practice, practice, and more practice to build your confidence.

    Go for it! You may still change your major but the ability to speak in front of a group is invaluable, even when become a parent.

  6. There is just something rewarding about being a teacher. I am studying to become one myself and like you, I am very much shy. And like the previous comment, fake it and pretend that you have it all under control. Soon enough the environment will become familiar. With teaching, you are aware of what you are doing and the students will not so much, that’s the beauty of it! If you mess up, cover it up and they will never know. If a student points out a mistake, laugh about it and thank the student for paying attention and that sort of thing. When it comes to discipline, keep it fair. It is something that you will learn. Never let fear stand in the way of what you want to do. You will only regret it.

  7. Hi Amanda,
    First, kudos on the great career choice! It won’t make you rich but it’s definitely an admirable field, and it’s very rewarding! Judge Josh gave you great info about your fear of public speaking, so I wanted to put you a little at ease about classroom management. First, your program is going to really prepare you for that. There are LOTS of techniques and things you will learn about classroom management. It’s a huge component of the teacher education program because without proper classroom management skills you won’t have an effective learning environment for your students. So don’t worry, your program will adequately prepare you. And you say you are easy going and introverted, well that’s okay but as Ry above said, the key is in the confidence you exude. Your students will believe whatever you show them about yourself. So if you show them you’re afraid of them, they’ll believe you! And if you show them you’re the boss, they’ll believe you! So remember, fake it till you make it! It really works! Even if you’re not feeling in control, make sure your body language says that you are! And lastly, have you considered teaching history at the university/college level? College students are WAY less rebellious toward the teacher, they’re way more focused and interested in their studies, and they’re usually there because they want to be. Those things can help CONSIDERABLY when it comes to classroom management at the college level. (Way less stress! But then, you still have to weigh the pros and cons and consider everything else too…) But good luck with what you decide to do. Here are two books/people who are excellent in the area of classroom management and you may hear about them during your teacher preparation. I think every teacher should at least “browse” these two educators’ work. Craig Seganti’s “Classroom Discipline 101” and Harry K. Wong’s “The First Days of School.” You could “browse” these books to give yourself a head start on what you’re in for! (smile) Anyways, happy teaching!

  8. If you can, try to make your schedule work so you can do some substitute teaching. Some of the “little darlin’s” will test your patience, but it’s good practice!

  9. I was a teacher when I was back home. I am also a shy person. I remember the first days of class was very intimidating. But it is only the first days. Student eventually learn to respect you because they need to get a good mark. Once you are a teacher, you will learn new strategies to deal with certain student and to help them. It is just a matter of time. I believe that people who are intimidated to be a teacher, actually, make good teacher. If you are stressing about certain things, you put more effort on doing certain task.

  10. My advice would be to find a local Toastmasters club. These clubs are built around building public speaking confidence!

  11. Hi, I am an education major I certainly understand your fears. I was a somewhat timid individual three years ago before I was admitted into the program. Needless, to say after several speeches with peers, discussions with master teachers and administrators, I am as confidient as EVER!! Things will improve with time, follow your heart’s desire.

  12. all you need to do is to teach, not to be over shadow by the crowd.
    as the class teacher your the pilot, you dicted the direction to which the class should look like dont allow them to do it for you otherwise you will miss it.for instance if you enter the class you can asked them of the latest news in town, this will help in creating a friendly atmosphere for your teaching.finally dont forget this rule;fake it and pretend that you have it all under control.

  13. I am teacher and I was a bit nervous too I middle scl 4 a while. Do interns at scls or volunteer for tutoring. Even working with small groups can help. and ur program should have plenty of observation hrs where you will have to do lessons. By the time you start teaching you will be a pro. But don’t change ur major over a minor obstacle. Unless u have some type of social phobia u will do fine. Practice makes 4 less nerves.

  14. This article is about a teacher-to-be being too shy, the photo posted is of Kajagoogoo and they sang a song titled, “Too Shy.”

  15. I am also a secondary ed history major and I too am very nervous when it comes to public speaking. I am joining a local toastmasters group at my universtiy so I hope that this will help. I read all the comments and think that they are great and helpful. I think that you should join a toastmasters and see if you like it, after all it cant hurt and there you will get much needed public speaking skills, confidence, and leadership skills which will help you guide your class so the children dont walk all over you.

  16. I had also planned on teaching high school history/social studies for a while (but have since changed my focus to elementary special education). If you continue on to an Education Degree of some type you will likely have many hours of practicum time where you will be able to practice speaking in front of kids and teaching. Another option (if this is not available or if you want to make sure this is something you want to do before you get in too deep) is to volunteer at a local high school. Schools are always looking for volunteers and if you explain the reason you want to do it, there is a good chance you could line up a volunteer position in a classroom. When I was in high school I spent two semesters as a teacher’s aide for younger grades(earning credits under a course named “Career and Personal Planning”) – I worked with a great teacher who allowed me to teach some of the classes and even assign and grade projects. He also challenged my public speaking nervousness by researching weird questions the kids had then presenting on them (including “where did the Easter Bunny originate” and “what is the difference between identical and non-identical twins?”-trust me, talking about sex and reproduction with 13 year olds will definitely push the boundaries of your speaking abilities if you are a nervous speaker!). I am planning on spending some time volunteering in a special education classroom next semester and have already lined up a volunteer position to make sure that special education is really what I want to do before I have to decide.

  17. Well, Amanda, you sound like a very determined and ambitious lady who knows what she wants to do in life, and I have the greatest respect for that. And I know exactly where you’re coming from in regards to being introverted and being afraid to speak in front of people, even when the group is small.

    Now I’m not going to lie to you that whether you continue to pursue this path or another, there is always going to be a heckler type (as one person phrased it), sometimes one, sometimes a group, though usually very small group. And some even cross that “fine-line” to make other people’s lives miserable. I’ve run into this in almost every job I worked in throughout my work history, even when I was trying SO hard to avoid it. Now although you can’t change their character, you CAN manage these problems so that you can protect not only yourself but everyone else around you. Here’s a sign to look out for so you’ll be better prepared than I was when I started:

    A heckler character usually makes some personal comment toward you such as “Where are YOU coming from?” or “Oh, please” in a loud tone (and I stress LOUD), something that catches you off-guard to the point of feeling fear. That fear is your instinct, and you’ll NEED trust your instinct. Usually when that happens, I don’t let the person finish his/her sentence. I cut him/her off midway with a well-prepared comment of my own. Now a lot of people mis-interpret this as being rude, but I’ll tell you right now, it is NOT rude.

    I would suggest the same thing as one of the posted comments, by practicing with a small group of friends, but I’ll go even further. Have one of your friends play devil’s advocate with you, and this friend has to be very knowledgeable with street-talk. He/she can be the “bad student” that gives you a hard time. You can also acquire some tactics on your own be reading up on social issues books in the library. Those ALWAYS help! πŸ˜‰

  18. I will be starting my 29th yr of teaching elementary music Monday and I still love this job! Never a dull moment, always something new and exciting to do, and it helps to have great students. The night before my very first day of teaching, I was so nervous I just sat and cried for an hour! I too, was very shy – not any more! My first year was very hard – had a 6th grade class who was determined to make life miserable for me (and they did). I had a wonderful principal and fellow staff members who took me under their wing and helped me through that year. Every year got easier – confidence, lesson planning, discipline, etc. Many school districts now have a mentoring program that pair up new teachers with ones with experience. Take advantage of that if possible. There are also many professional development opportunities to help with improving yourself as a teacher once you are hired. I must say that my education college courses were not very helpful – I learned more my 1st year of teaching. I do think they have improved alot from the 1970’s when I was in college. Anyway, go for it – if you feel it is really what you want to do, you’ll never regret it – I’d do it all over again.

  19. I did an internship in my senior year of high school teaching 7th and 8th graders food and nutrition. One, I’m overweight so I’m really not the one to be preaching to the choir about such things (how I took the internship is a long story though and no, I didn’t really want it. But it was paid and basically the only thing really motivating me to try. Total shame, I know). Anywho, I thought that teaching 7th and 8th graders wouldn’t be too hard. A few of my other classmates got 5th and 6th grade and with my students being older, I wouldn’t have to dumb myself down.

    Boy wasn’t I wrong -_-”

    The girls in class strangely never warmed up to my male partner who helped me. He missed the first day of our teaching and I was left to flounder on my own for seven painful hours (I skipped Friday’s of attending my school to teach at theirs). I too am very shy (haha, both our names are Amanda, by the way ^_^ Meaning it’s an awesome name) and it didn’t help any that I was like “Oh, just call me Amanda, not Ms. Williams.” (another side note unrelated; my partner’s last name was the same as mine…bleh. Mr. and Mrs. Williams, like we were a couple. Well, I did like him, but that’s getting WAY off track. Forgive me).

    Looking back now, I wish I’d have been a little more adamant in my voice instead of whimpering back and looking pleadingly to their teacher to handle them when they became rowdy. I too should’ve practiced with others, reviewed my lessons to where I sounded much more convincing and overall, shed the teenage-persona I was striving to keep and just acted more like an adult (well, I did that actually. But once the first day went downhill, it all went downhill for me…).

    So, be confident of yourself and have confidence! You’ll definitely make up for where I terribly lacked, lol!

  20. Awww, someone beat me to the Kajagoogoo reference in the photo. For Amanda, as a 24-year “veteran” teacher at the high school level, I can tell you that students are very different from even when YOU were in high school, believe it or not. Please be very sure that this is what you want to do. I like what I do, it makes an underpaid, but stable living with job security (unfortunately as long as immature, marginally functioning people hook up, there will always be a need for special education teachers). High school students are emotionally pretty much where you are right now–don’t really know what they want, but they are damn sure it’s not being where they are at the moment, and they act accordingly. While you are earning experience, please volunteer for all the tutoring, internship, and observation you can get at the secondary level. I have witnessed even so-called “good” kids figuratively eat new young teachers alive, like sharks smelling blood. They (and some parents) are great at sniffing out new, inexperienced, and insecure people and go straight for the jugular. If you do not take steps to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities (not necessarily with public speaking, I sense general insecurity) now, your first two or three years will be absolute hell. I also suggest, if you do follow this path, that you try to find a very small school, a rural school, or a private school to work in your first few years. A large urban school would be enough to give me pause, and I’ve been at it 20+ years. It will also be safer for you, and you may actually stay in the field past a year or two. Hope this helps!

  21. Judge Josh, the picture of the band Kajagoogoo; yes I am a 70/80’s child and remember the band and even listened to them…I suspect you included this picture because their hit single “Too Shy” goes along quite well with what you are talking about in this article. Either that or the old adage of imagining your audience looking ridiculous in an attempt to help make yourself feel better while speaking in public πŸ™‚ My advice for Amanda? Go for it! I do public speaking all time, and once you get used to it, it becomes easier, especially when your comfortable and knowledgable with your subject. I actually enjoy getting up in front of hundreds of people to impart my knowledge and wisdom, even if they don’t. So don’t let your fear get in your way of doing something you really love.


  22. Too shy-shyy, hush hushhhhh…
    Missy beat me to it xP

    Anyway, my advice would be to see if you can find a program (like Toastmasters) that could help you gain more confidence in your speaking abilities. When you start teaching, you might be scared of the possibility of hecklers (with good reason–it /is/ high school, after all) but if you keep that off your mind, stay calm and collected, and even perhaps make the class “fun,” then you can prove any wannabe hecklers wrong, and you just might see your students accept you, or even embrace you as their new favorite teacher ^^

  23. You can do it, Amanda! Take an improv or public speaking class, it should help and be fun once you get over the initial nervousness.

    I hate public speaking, but I was forced into it by the fellowships I was awarded in grad school, which involved TAing and leading workshop discussions with undergrads. The better-prepared you are in terms of the material you’re presenting, the easier it will be. So, my advice, besides the improv class, is to over prepare your lesson plans and have enough material to last you the entire class session and then some. Worst case, you push whatever material you didn’t have a chance to cover into the next lesson plan. If you’re enthusiastic and passionate about the material, you could be teaching the phone book and still have a captive audience. It also helps to have a sense of humor.

  24. Alyssa Allende Motz

    I have to say I disagree entirely that public speaking is an “Extraneous detail that isn?t substantively related to the job,” when it comes to teaching. In fact, that is one of the most critical aspects of teaching. You may be passionate about history but if you can’t effectively communicate your passions to a group of people, your not going to be a good teacher. Keep in mind also that high schoolers are one of the toughest possible crowds, with rudeness going way beyond texting or zoning out. If you doubt in the slightest that you can handle it, you should be realistic and do something more suited to yourself. Don’t do a disservice to yourself and hundreds of kids who deserve to have a teacher who can actually communicate effectively in a classroom setting.

  25. I’ve taught previously, and am back in school to get my Masters in Education. Talking in front of a group of students is wholly different from public speaking. A classroom is a give and take, while a lecture is solely give. Also, no matter how easygoing you are, you will realize very quickly that YOU are in charge in the classroom, and YOU are responsible for the safety and learning of all of those kids in your classroom.

    The fact is, like any career, the ability to teach will either come or it won’t. But, with good training and the desire to succeed, the chance of the ability coming is high. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, from your current professors and future coworkers. Unless they’re unqualified to be teachers, they would rather you ask a seemingly stupid question than do something wrong!

  26. Getting up in front of the classroom is very different from any other kind of performance. A good teacher education program will prepare you with lots of theory but also lots of EXPERIENCE. If in the first year your program does not force you into a real classroom to at least observe for a couple hours a week, find one that does, or find an outside opportunity–substitute teach, volunteer as para, or even tutoring. And then next summer, find a job as a camp counselor. Experiences in situations where you are teaching children will be the best indicators as to whether you are suited for teaching, and they are also the best practice for the day you have your own classroom. And don’t be afraid to ask for help–your professors in your ed program, mentor teachers, camp administrators, and other professionals are usually willing to help out. One thing I do NOT recommend is waiting for your student teaching experience. That’s usually the last thing in an ed program and that’s usually way too late to decide you aren’t teacher material.

  27. I’m also very introverted, and I’m going to be a music teacher. Several of my current professors are like that, as well, and they’re the best teachers I’ve ever had.

    Get up in front of classes as much as possible. You will develop a separation between the “Amanda” ego and the “teacher” ego. It’s a lot like having a multiple-personality disorder, except that you’re in total control of both personalities. After the Teacher Ego develops, you discover wonderful things like the Teacher Voice.

    But it will never happen if you don’t get yourself in front of students ASAP, and as much as possible.

  28. I don’t know why you left the picture (some boy band that the lead singer has(d) a hard time speaking to people but had a stage present of the likes we haven’t seen since “Queen” or KISS?)…but I know why I would have posted it: The person in the front their body language speaks volumes. Everyone seems relatively relaxed except the one in the front middle. It looks almost painful and seems as if they haven’t said a word during most of the photo shoot.

    I have the same problem as Amanda. It runs in my family but that’s okay. I know that practice make perfect.

    Take a speech class and then go to a small writer’s group. The speech class will get your feet wet (mine was four 2-7 minute speeches of my choosing and the longest one was a demo) and show you how organize a speech. The small writer’s group will help with the organizing of your thoughts but also impromptu speech, being passionate and how that ties into your processes (of being in front of people).

    I haven’t actually tried Toastmasters but I have the feeling that they are more formal but I don’t know. I have been willing to try Toastmasters but there isn’t one locally. I wondered about starting my own but don’t have the time right as of yet.

  29. Rats-Missy took my answer.

    Amanda, teaching is a passion. If you really want this than little can stand in your way. As someone who has substiitute taught at all levels in Alberta, Canada, my personal findings are that junior high students are rude because they wish to be elsewhere, but high school students are better behaved. This is because if they are rude or loud the teacher has the power ‘write them up’ to remove them from the class. Fear of this inspires good behavior as no one wishes to have to repeat a course, but the teacher has to be consistant in carrying out any threats to begin the paperwork or to speak to parents.
    The mindset of a teacher needs to be that of a Queen bee and her worker drones. Consistance is the ruling force and is more important than forcefulness.
    Remember that most students come with two parents, making three people per student plus school administration that you are responsible to. If you can live with that, Happy teaching!!
    I highly recommend a public speaking course for confidence as well.

  30. Amanda – I guess you are in the 19-21 year-old age range… since you are a sophmore, and I assume a traditional student. Believe me when I say that your intimidation by high school students will fade VERY quickly with age. At the moment, you are barely out of high school…. and all of your high school “scars” are most likely still fresh memories. Give it a couple years, and high school students will start to look like children to you, and you will appear as an “adult” to them.

    I’m only 28, and high school students routinely call me ma’am. I am friendly, respectful, and (act) confident with them, and in return I get respect and (most of the time) their attention.

    For classroom discipline (now called classroom management), this should be something taught in your education courses. Two really fantastic books on the topic are:

    “The Art of Classroom Management: Building Equitable Learning Communities” By Barbara McEwan Landau
    “Judicious Discipline” By Forrest Gathercoal

    Good luck, and don’t stress out – if you really want to teach, you will get past your fears.

  31. Hey Amanda,

    At the beginning of my college career I was debating being a teacher myself. I’m shy too and for a while I thought that it would be a challenge for me, but honestly I think it’s something you’ll get used to. In college, you will probably have to do so many speeches, presentations that speaking before a group is not as scary. And it’s always more daunting to speak before your peers than any other group. As a young college student, maybe high school kids (especially seniors) still feel like your peers. But by the time you graduate, I’m sure you’ll see them differently, making speaking in front of them an easier task.

  32. Lots of great stuff here. I second (or third..I skipped some comments) the suggestion that you definately find somewhere to get into a classroom in front of students, or at least have a teacher who you can observe for several hours a week. Ask to go to their most mis-behaving class. See if you think you could learn to control that type of group of people.

    As for comments about the amount of money, don’t worry so much about that. Teaching is a lifestyle as much as a job. It takes over everything (if you have the “bug”), and you won’t need much money to spend, as you’ll be busy and active all the time. It means sometimes having late work nights and long hours. Mostly, it’s the quiet satisfaction of seeing the “aha” moment, or hearing the random very astute observation.

    Oh, and the parents… if the parents are about the education of their children, they care VERY MUCH. If they don’t feel strongly for it, you have almost no cooperation from them. For the worst parents, they even cover for their children being little shii…turds.

    I love it, but it isn’t for everyone. If you’re willing to constantly work to try to be better, to refine yourself, your method, to meet your students’ individual needs, then teach and don’t look back. πŸ™‚

    My few cents.

  33. Amanda,

    Getting up in front of people and talking is something a lot of people get worked up about, myself included. But you have an advantage; you know it could be a problem and you have time to work through your fear. I took a job as a waitress, not for the money, but because it would help me work on getting in front of people. If the school you are attending has even a half decent education program you will spend several semesters actually in a classroom, so you aren’t just going straight into your own classroom without some kind of training. Read up on positive classroom management techniques. Lou Ann Johnson has a good one called Teaching Outside the Box. And to boost your confidence in yourself, find your own power suit. Something so chic that when you put it on you feel like you can conquer the world. Hope this helps, even a little bit.

  34. Become an RA!….get involved in campus. Being an RA almost MAKES you get over being shy because it is ur job to interact with others. You learn a lot as well and being an RA can feel like being a teacher as well. Im not sure about your school but at mine we have to turn in lesson plans for events we make up. and playing “mediator” pops up a lot too which is bound to happen at school….Also take some public speaking classes. I use to be really shy and thats what I did.

  35. I would suggest spending some time substitute teaching at the high school level, if your own class schedule allows for it. Most teachers keep their lesson plans simple for subs, so it would give you some exposure presenting to that age group but in small doses. It’ll also give you some practice in classroom management, which will be the key to making yourself comfortable when you have your own classroom.

    A side bonus is that schools like to hire people they have experience working with, and often hire substitutes who are dependable and hardworking.

  36. Hi Amanda, I am always amazed and appreciate those who has passion to teach high school students like you! I have been teaching in high school for 7 years, and also experienced that kind of anxiety when I started my calling as teacher. I admit that teaching high school kids is challenging. However, do not be discouraged, there are also a lot of fun and nice things you will experience with them πŸ™‚ In my experience, the first and the most important thing I do everytime I started with new class and students, I show them that they are precious and I’m interested with them, it let to the friendship with them. It’s about relationship, and it will give great impact about how they are interested with what you do for them πŸ™‚
    In teaching, I also show them my passion on the subject that I teach and let them see that it is a necessary as well as interesting subject πŸ™‚ I think this all I can share with you about starting to be teacher for high school students since you have got a lot of advice about the technique of teaching and its preparation from other friends above.
    Finally Amanda, be strong and take courage πŸ™‚

  37. The fact that you want to be a teacher is great it says alot about who a person is. People who wish to be educators are those who have a love of learning and sharing thier acquired knowledge with new generations of people.

    With that being said, I can tell you want this. I can tell you want more than anything to be infront of a classroom and make a difference. That is a beautiful passion to have and you shouldn’t let anyone stop you (not even Amanda)!

    Yes, you should take speaking courses and yes you should practice and yes you should try to intern or get a lot of experience in the field of student teaching, but remember it all starts with Amanda.

    I know for a fact that you can do it! You reached out to all of us and now its time to reach out to the rest of the world.

    I look forward to the day you are one of the livliest and vocally energized educators in the business the world needs teachers like you and the sooner you are apart of the world of education the better.

  38. Well I have a lot of things that I am shy to do that may seem silly to you but being shy to high school teaching is a possibilty that I never explored. Well I do know it can happen. I had a shyness of talking to people that seemed to make me feel inferior toward them without trying. If you know what that means. Well what seems to help my shyness is researching my fears and finding out what others have done to over come the same fear. You are definately not the only one in your situation. My brother quotes an unknown author, “Anything said has been said before”.
    First of you have to remember that you are in charge and you hold there grade in the palm of your hand. Don’t go crazy but keep that in mind.
    Secondly, Remember there education is important and I you fail your student, you fail yourself. These are our future leaders. They must take our place someday.
    Third, PRepare PREpare; Come to class ready to teach. Children expecially teens know when you are not prepared. If you take the subject seriously, they will take you seriously. You will always have that class clown in your class waiting to still your spotlight but you can always handle that person. Try to handle most of your problem yourself. Make learning fun.

  39. I would avoid substitute teaching as a first step — it is probably the way to see students at their worst, and why START there? Instead, make a connection with a history teacher(s) in the town you live in and ask if you can visit her/his classroom to observe. Try that for several weeks, maybe just one class period a day, and you will learn how effective teachers manage classrooms, what behavior students exhibit (under ‘normal’ conditions), what they like to learn, how teacher’s present information and handle conflict. Then ask this teacher/mentor if they would let you teach for 10 minutes one day, and then you work together to plan a lesson. Increase the amount of time gradually. That way, you experience butterflies in a room full of students who know you (you’ve been there before) and with a mentor who is rooting for your success and can offer helpful tips. You’ll have a much better idea if this is your calling than if you throw yourself to the lions by substitute teaching and expecting to get a real answer.

  40. I’ve been a teacher’s aide at my high school for two years and have been tutoring for the past 4 years. Sometimes the stupidest, most rediculous things that you do in front of people are the ones they remember and get the point across. And that way if they are laughing at you, its great! They are supposed to be laughing at you, you just have to laugh yourself. And sometimes, simply laughing is a good way to break the ice. One of my students for math was completely lost with the basic concept of acute, obtuse, and right angles. At the time, I was probably the most shy person in the room, but I needed a way for the kid to remember the difference between the angles. I got up in front of the 20 kids that were in the room cleared my throat, apologized for the slight awkwardness of the moments to come, and then did the dumbest dance imaginable illustrating the angles and sang a little song with it! I was humiliated, but everyone in the room laughed, and more importantly, the kid got a 100% on his next math test that regarded angles! Moral of the story, people remember when you do humiliating things, and it can help them remember the concepts really well. Just suck it up, and when all else fails, laugh!

  41. My aunt has been teaching for 30 years and when she started out she was extremely shy. Now she’s not shy at all.

  42. I’m kind of in the same boat. I’m thinking about teaching English at the high school level. However, my problem isn’t that I’m shy or nervous about speaking in front of people. It’s the fact that no one listens when I do speak. I’m the student director for both band and choir, and I can never seem to get them under control when I have to take the lead. I guess my voice is too high pitched, and I’m just too nice.

    But I used to be shy. I found that practice certainly does help. If you don’t want to practicing lecturing to people, then just practice being in front of an audience. Join a performance group, like theater or choir (in that case, take solos). After a couple of shows, you’ll have no problem being in front of people.

  43. Hello, I know I’m late in offering you feedback, however, I would like to point something out. If you speak to your current instructors, or teachers you connected with really well in the past, I am sure that they will be more than willing to give you tips for controlling a classroom. Also, anytime you have to make a presentation in front of a class, or even just put a powerpoint together, present it to a medium-sized group of friends (5-10 people). This will help you acclamate by being the center of attention with people you already know. I would also suggest, when you are in social situations, perhaps try being more talkative. This will be a very small step that will help you be more outgoing. I did dance for a long time and while this may not be the case for you, I find performing or speaking in front of people I don’t know is easier than people I do know, so practising speaking in front of people you know may go further than you would anticipate. I wish you the best of luck in your career!

  44. This is not the attitude to show your future students; however, you should keep this mental attitude just for your own benefit: Just tell yourself, “This is my time to talk! Everyone has to listen to me and respect me! I have the power!” I agree with the other people who say to practice public speaking in front of a couple friends and gradually increase the group size, not to mention the people who tell you that experienced teachers will no doubt give you tips. You aren’t going to throw away your dream career for one small obstacle that you have the strength to overcome, are you?

  45. Amanda, take it from a pro – I’ve done over five years of public speaking classes, including mock congress, debate, and state level persuasive speech. I’ve also spoken in front of 400 executives from a certain national organizations for over 20 minutes and told them what they were screwing up on. So I know the land. After I speak, people always come and tell me what a great speaker I am. What they don’t know is that when I started learning, I was *terrified* of public speaking. I often had to stop in the middle of speeches just to collect myself, or even take a break. It took me over five years of constant practice to get to the “lecturing CEOs” level, and you dont have to be anywhere near that good :). Like Josh said, it really just takes practice. Once you’ve done it several times, you learn it’s kind of like acting – you “put on” a stage personality when you speak, even if your nervous, it’s kind of like flipping an internal switch. And believe me, I get nervous just speaking in front of my college classes even now. But knowing how to channel the nervousness into energy is all what the practice is about. The more experience, the less you have to act. So, do what Josh says: practice, practice, practice. When you’ve done that, practice in front of a mirror (but don’t start there, its rather disturbing lol). And remember: the number one fear is public speaking, the second is death. Be happy your on stage giving the eulogy, and not the one in the casket πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  46. I know this is an old post, but my comment might be useful to people looking for advice on this issue.

    I’ll be the minority report here. I got my PhD (difficult field, best university in the country for my specialty), got scholarships and a tenure-track job … and never really got used to the lecturing. It was always a scary and unpleasant task that loomed in front of me and ruined the day. Preparing for classes took up a lot more of my time than it should have.

    I spent several hundred hours lecturing. I was extremely popular with students; I got brilliant teaching evaluations. I thought that if I just made myself do it, I would get used to it. It did get easier, but after a few years I decided it was never something I was going to enjoy, look forward to, or even feel neutral about.

    My job was unpleasant for other reasons–I was in a very contentious, politics-ridden department–and in the end I left academia.

    My conclusion? Some people just don’t have the nervous systems for certain jobs. I think high school teaching would have been even more difficult for me.

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