Most teachers enter the profession with strong ideals regarding the work they are about to undertake, and the impact this work will have on the students they teach. A good number of those who apply to faculties of education will report that teaching is something they have dreamed of doing since they were, themselves, young children. Others will tell stories of teachers encountered throughout their own schooling – teachers who, through effective teaching strategies, personal encouragement and modeling, influenced their decision to pursue a teaching career. Conversations with teacher candidates entering their first years of professional life are, in many cases, full of hope, passion and the expectation that, through their work as teachers, they will be able to inspire, excite, and make a similar impact on the lives of the young people with whom they work.
Conversations with teachers who have spent some time in the profession often reflect a tempering of the high ideals with which they began their careers. While they are still hopeful about the work they are doing, there is a sense from many teachers that factors beyond their immediate control prevent them from fully realizing their original vision of what their professional life was going to be like. In short, there is often a noticeable difference between the teacher they aspire to be and the teacher that they feel they are required to be.