(Closed) Are there any teachers in the house??? (Need career advice)

posted 8 years ago in Career
Post # 3
Member
2271 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

Well I teach at the college level and so I don’t know if my advice would be helpful or not. I had absolutely no intentions of teaching what-so-ever. To this day I consider myself a biologist first and a college professor second. My chosen field is environmental biology and I minored in biochemistry and while I could find lots of part-time and temp jobs at the time (1996), I was having a hard time finding a decent full-time job. One of my former professor’s that I later worked for as a lab assistant0 invited me to start teaching as an adjunct. After 4 years of that, I was fortunate enough to become full-time and after 5 years I was awarded tenure. Now I pretty much have a job for life unless the college closes or I do something really awful like murder somebody. Even with teaching during the summer, I still have 6 weeks off every year and the benefits can’t be beat. I still do not pay for my health, vision or dental insurance which is pretty remarkable in today’s economy. Strangely enough, I have been told that I am considered one of the college’s most popular and best professors which I think is pretty funny since I never took a single course in education and now I am being nominated for a NISOD award.

That being said, I have heard a few things about teaching at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. For teachers, they must have so many credits in education courses and a rather broad background in liberal arts. Few teachers teach only one subject now-a-days and it is also helpful if you have a background in some sort of sport. Teachers who can also coach a team definitely have an advantage. I know that different states have different requirements and that pretty much all of them require extensive background checks. Believe it or not, quite a few teachers have told me that middle school is the worse in terms of behavior problems but I don’t know how true that is. Either way, if you are really interested, you need to start researching your area schools’ requirements! Good luck!

 

Post # 5
Member
171 posts
Blushing bee

You can get alternative certification if you really want to teach. My boyfrined did this and is currently teaching 7 & 8 grade math. You will have a very hard time finding a job teaching elementary school, your best bet is high school math or science.

Post # 6
Member
794 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I am a kindergarten teacher in my 4th year of teaching out of college.  As any job there are some pros and cons.

Pros:  You get a chance to start over every year.  The summer gives you a chance to get excited and enjoy your job again.  The amount of learning that happens is really rewarding and the kids can be wonderful.

Cons:  The pay.  I am living just outside of DC and although they pay really well it does not keep up with the cost of living.  It can be frustrating to feel “broke” while paying your student loans from college. 

Depending on where you live finding a job can either be very easy or seem impossible.  Talk to someone in your area and find out what the teaching job market is like.  If you are willing to move there will ALWAYS be teaching jobs somewhere. 

With any job, there are days that I love my job and wouldn’t change it for the world.  And there are other days where I can’t imagine doing this past age 30.  It is really great being a teacher but you honestly have to love it because with politics, pay, parents, students it can sometimes be stressful. 

 I am sure you will do great!

 

Post # 7
Member
246 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Hi Laylabelle πŸ™‚  I am a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, and have been for six years.  I completely have a love/hate relationship with my job.  On one hand, it is unbelivably fulfilling…I know I’m doing something valuable with my life and I LOVE the kids (even though they sometimes drive me nuts).  On the other hand, I come home emotionally drained every single day.  There is a lot to love about it, but there are definitely A LOT of challenges.  Someone above mentioned that middle school is crazy…and let me tell you, it most definitely is!  In my district, we have a lot of kids that come from very difficult family situations, and don’t always recieve a lot of parental/administrative support.  I could go on about this subject for hours….in a nutshell, I will say this….it is absolutely the hardest job you will ever have in your life, but it is amazingly rewarding.  It is deifnitely not a job for the weak of heart!!!  Would I become a teacher if I had it all to do over again?  Not sure.  Do I have days where I thnk I must be certifiably insane for being a middle school teacher? Absolutely.  Does it pay well?  Haha…no.  But, all in all…minus all the BS that sometimes comes with it….in how many jobs do you get to change and influence lives?  For some kids, the best part of their day is coming to school where they are safe, loved, and well taken care of….and for me, as long as the good outweighs the bad (which on most days it does!)…then you’ll find me in the classroom.  Just know that actually teaching is only part of it!  I’m a mother, police officer, counselor, coach, motivational speaker, and the list goes on and on….but I’ll tell you this, there is no such thing as a dull moment when you work with kids.  You’ll cry a lot, but you’ll laugh a lot too! πŸ™‚  Good luck with whatever you decide!!!

Post # 8
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Because my mother is a teacher (and a few of my cousins…and most of my neighbours in my hometown), I never imagined myself as a teacher.  Teaching was always their profession.   I received my BA in Religious Studies (Asian religions not theology!!), and obtained my MA in South Asian religions.  I wanted to either work in immigration policy for the Federal government, or do my PhD.  I went to Korea for a year to pay off some debts and travel…fell in love with a Korean….and realized that my destiny is to teach.  Actually, looking back every job I’ve ever had has been involved in teaching, albeit ‘alternative’ teaching (tutoring, ESL volunteer work, refugee volunteer work, youth employment,  reading camps, overnight camp leader, university researcher/teaching assistant etc).  I don’t think I’m suited for a regular classroom, but I love teaching in alternative settings.  I’ve taught business people, children, homemakers, grandparents, and now I’m a professor at a uni in Seoul (I teach credit classes in writing and English presentation, but will soon start to teach World Religion classes).  Religious Studies was a very alternative route into teaching, but it gave me a very good background in inter-cultural communication and it has helped me to help my students be able to communicate themselves through another language.  I think teachers who have ‘alternative’ backgrounds often bring a lot of unique and sometimes very practical experience into the classroom.  Since many of my students are using my English writing and presentation classes to obtain jobs, my work in youth and government employment is helpful when I give them advice.  You need to make sure you have a passion for teaching if you want this job, but if you find it inside yourself, it is a very fulfilling career.

Post # 10
Member
1980 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Hi LaylaBelle– I’m currently getting my Alaternatie Certification, so maybe I can give you some insight into that?

I graduated with an Honors BA from UT, and had no idea what I wanted to do! I considered getting my PhD (still haven’t totally decided against that), I considered Architecture graduate school (but didn’t think my soul was in it), and considered law school.

I chose law school (see all my previous posts about the trials and tribulations of law school!) and was there for a year before I quit. I found it so unfulfilling, so vacuous, so dry. There was zero room for creativity.

I had been a preschool teacher in Austin for a few years, and decided to go back to that (maybe forever? maybe until I figure out what is next?) and I went back to night school for my Teachers Certification. I could teach now with my English degree, but I would have to teach middle or highschool, and I am not interested in that. I really love the little ones, and so I went back for my elementary education certification. I have also heard the job market is very difficult, but I think that is true of ANY job rmarket right now. I have attorney friends who have been out of work for close to a year. This problem isn’t unique to the teaching field– its a consequence of the economy.

Post # 12
Member
984 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

Teaching really can be fufilling and awesome if it’s what you really want to do. I’m in my last semester of undergrad and I was double majoring in History and Education. My situation is almost the opposite of yours, I wanted to major in something I love but the only thing I knew to do with a history degree was teaching. So I went into education and while I enjoyed it, I think it’s something that I needed to be completely passionate about in order to do well. It was a hard decision but about a month ago I dropped out of education and student teaching, leaving me with just a history degree. I haven’t really looked back since, especially when my advisor told me she could see that it wasn’t something I was passionate about.I will tell you that my advisors told me over and over that history/political science was the wrong subject area to get into because there is a high need for math and science teachers throughout the U.S. What’s really nice about education now, at least in my state, is the programs are set up to give you a lot of hands on experience in the classroom with lesson planning and students to really get a feel for the job. It’s nice because it give you experience and you also can know before you graduate if it’s right for you. I really admire teachers, they are amazing people and do an amazingly difficult job. If that’s what you want to do I applaud you. Check out your state requirements and what you would have to do to become certified.

Side note: I went to school with quite a few students who were just back to get their licensure but already had their BA/BS but they had to do many of the same requirements and classes I was in to get their licensure.

Post # 13
Member
453 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Hey there! I have been teaching for 15 years. I was originally in nursing school and ended up changing my major to special education. I do live in Georgia, teach in Georgia and have three of my four college degrees from colleges in Georgia. My BS is in Mental Handicaps with a minor in Health Education

I started in elementary MoID/SID/PID/Autism-teaching K-3, then high school MoID/SID/PID/Autism, then middle school (yes! 6-8!) interrelated disabilities-working with children with specific learning disabilities, mental retardation, and emotional & behavior disorders. Along the way, I picked up a Master’s degree in Interrelated Disabilities and my EdS (Educational Specialist-what they award you if you graduate ABD-all but dissertation-from a PhD program, its commonly called a 6 year degree) in Special Education with a Reading Endorsement. I’ve added regular education certification in every content area from PreK thru 8th grade and am certified to teach severe disabilities up until age 21. Why so many degrees that sound horribly braggy? Because when you are a teacher, you have to constantly work towards keeping up your certification by either taking trainings and attending workshops, or by adding degrees and certifications. Every time you add a degree, you go up on the state payscale. I am now teaching elementary students with Autism-in a self contained class-it’s a job that I dearly love working with a student population that is near and dear to my heart.

Pros and cons? It depends on the day that you ask me. I adored working with middle school kids-they can be wild or mild-but they are at a neat age-just on the cusp of discovering who they are, and in return, you do a whole of lot of discovery about who YOU are. Elementary grades-not as “easy” as it used to be (not that it was every really that easy) changes to the state curriculum have teachers teaching things in LOWER elementary grades that used to be higher elementary and sometimes even the begining of middle school. The technical expertise that you are expected to have in today’s classroom rivals that of any company-it leaves Excell and Access in the dust-powerpoints and word are archaic in todays classroom-it is one of the very best fields outside of the IT world in which to stay abreast of the most current technology. I have brand new computers in my classroom, we are wireless, paperless, remote technology, etc.

Cons? Paperwork. Right in the face of telling you that we are paperless. The sheer volume of paperwork that we are expected to complete as a teacher is alot-add to it the amount of paperwork that you are expected to do as a special education teacher, and it drives some people out of the field. I am dedicated to my job, but the amount of paperwork makes it very difficult to do what I LOVE to do and the reason that I work with children…is to actually work with children. Most veteran teachers will tell you…teaching is the easy part…I just wish I got to do it more often.

With the “testing regime” we are living in, it is harder and harder for the classroom teacher to work towards excellence on an individual student level when testing is high stakes-promotion or retention, your school making AYP, evaluations, and so much more is riding on test scores. I see the regular education teachers that I work with dealing with more and more in the regular classroom every day-in a time and age when auxillary personnel are being cut due to budget restrictions that would make even an accountant’s head spin.

I tell you all of that to tell you this….I LOVE my job. Despite the tough stuff…I LOVE MY JOB! I get to do what I LOVE for a living, which is working with children with special needs. How many people get to say that?

 

Post # 14
Member
601 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010 - Heinz Chapel Ceremony, Museum Reception

I taught 7th grade English at a very high-need, high-risk school for three years. I absolutely loved it. Loved it. Like others have said, I left my school every day feeling like I had done something good. Also, I never once in three years had a feeling like, “ugh, just another day at the office.” I didn’t have a single boring day, ever. Btw, I know lots of people will tell you that middle school is crazy, but I loved them! It’s the age group I want to work with forever!

That said, I left my school to pursue my master’s degree, and I’m currently sorting out whether or not I will ever return to teaching. The thing I figured out very quickly is that it’s easy to be a bad teacher, and very, very hard to be a good teacher. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. In my first year, I came home every day and collapsed on the couch for a two-hour nap, and then was in bed by 9 PM! Just the sheer amount of time you have to put in to succeed is very overwhelming–in fact, I just read a statement in one of my grad school books that said, if you’re a middle school teacher with a full classload (125-140 kids) and you spend five minutes per student per week on reading/grading their work and ten minutes preparing for each class every day on top of your actual teaching time, you will automatically be working a sixty-hour week. Food for thought!

Post # 15
Member
116 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

Well I am not a teacher yet…I am a substitute teacher though! and I am going the alternative certification route as well. I graduated with my bachelors in communication and realized that it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t have a passion for it. All through highschool and college I had worked with kids. and in fact when I first started college I was undecided between Journalism and Education. I went the Journalism route because it came easy for me. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best idea. Then i found out about substituting and thought what a great idea it would be! I would be getting hands on experience and figure out if this is what I want to do. Well it definielty is. I love teaching and being with children. I have even long-termed subbed last year and gained a ton of experience! I found out about alternative certification and just started a couple weeks ago. I felt it was the best route for me to go being that I have my Bachelor’s and the job market isn’t to great so the one thing I needed was my certification!

My advice for you is to follow your heart. If it is telling you to go for elementary education than that is what you should do. Definietly look into the alternative certification route…or you could even go back and get your masters if you wanted do πŸ™‚

Hope that helps!

Post # 16
Member
156 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

I completely agree with Carrie!  I majored in Political Science in college and then got an alternative teaching certificate (basically a masters degree program) and taught high school history and geography for two years.  I LOVED it.

However (and this is a big however), it is extremely emotionally and physically draining.  Mostly emotionally.  I worked in a high-rish, low socioeconomic area in a rural community with lots of drugs and teen mothers.  I honestly loved each and every one of my students, even the “bad” ones, but I’m not gonna lie and say that I felt I did something good every single day.  Sometimes there were really bad days, and it felt like I had given 150% only to be trampled on all day and completely unappreciated.    Other days were great and I felt like I had truly positively influenced a child’s life. To be honest the other staff members were many times the root of prolems – not even the students.

As Carrie said – It is really hard to be a good teacher, and really easy to be a bad one.  I don’t want to discourage you at all, but I do want to be realistic about what the classroom is like.

To me teaching this group of students was about civil rights – I believe every student no matter their background deserves a good education, so I am not interested in being a teacher now that I live in Northern VA.  The kids here have so much!  In the end, I decided that it was time for me to move to something else.  I now work in college admissions at a university and I love it.  Lot less pay, but much less emotionally draining.

If you can do it, and you have a genuine interest in helping students – please follow your heart!  We need more good teachers out there πŸ™‚

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