Hi, my name is Sean. I'm obviously not a regular here but I happened to be in the room when my wife was checking out the board.
When I saw your post I felt compelled to respond. I am an elementary teacher in Canada. I currently teach Grade Six, but have also taught, grades 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8. In response to your first question, I LOVE teaching. When I get up in the morning I can't wait to get to school (well not when I first wake up - but once I'm out of bed.
In response to your second question, I can't think of many more rewarding jobs. Their is simply nothing like the exhilaration of teaching a child to do something they have never done before or helping a child understand something that they have struggled long and hard to grasp!
In response to your third question, "Who doesn't have doubts?" I always say the day I stop doubting and second guessing myself is the day I cease to learn. It is my self-evaluation and second guessing that help me to be the teacher that I am.
I will not lie to you. Teaching is extremely challenging and many of the things that you learn in Teacher's College would only work in a perfect school in a perfect world. Unfortunately, that perfect school does not exist... at least I haven't found it. In terms of standardized testing, we too have provincial testing in Ontario. The situation need only be as stressful as the teacher chooses it to be. At the end of the day how important is a standardized test that an elementary student writes. What matters is that the students learn... If you teach them to the best of your abilities and give them everything you've got... you both win!
Let me tell you a story that exemplifes the life of a teacher. Earlier this year I had a student who no matter what they did was unable to understand any concepts in math. Every test she wrote, every assignment she handed in she failed. As any teacher would do, I started to spend a little extra time with her to help her. On Wednesday she wrote a math test. When I marked it she got a C+. Most students in the class would be very disappointed with this mark, but she beamed from ear to ear. She had improved and that is really all that matters for any student or any teacher. I made a difference in the life of a child. That is what teaching is about, you have an unparalleled opportunity to change the world one soul at a time. Good luck to you. You are taking on a tremendous responsibility and being given an incredible priviledge.
I'm sorry for the length of this post, but too many times we as teachers don't stand up for what we believe in. To teach is to change lives and we always need to remember that.
If you'd like to e-mail me I'm available at firstname.lastname@example.org