Teacher bees-advice for someone considering it?

posted 7 months ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
3730 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I’m a high school English teacher. I love my job. There are days that make me want to scream in frustration, but I tell myself that would be with any job dealing with other people. The best thing you can do when deciding is talk to people within the school you’re interested in and ask about what the support is like from the admin. I truly believe that is what causes people to burn out the fastest. Not having support from principals can absolutely ruin your ability to maintain control and authority in your classroom.

Post # 3
Member
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

dianaj17 :  I’m at the end of my 7th year (I think…) of teaching. It’s a hard profession. What most people will tell you is this…they love the actual teaching part. If you’re willing to put aside your ego and realize that you’ll need to do a lot of reflecting and growing as an individual and educator, then you’re off to a great start. 

 

I’m currently teaching 6th grade Humanities (English and Social Studies mixed with art, music, etc. blended in). I’m at a public charter in it’s 3rd year because the philosophy aligns with my beliefs about students and their learning. I left a very prominent district where I taught seniors (my preferred age group) and took a pay cut (harsh as my family is supported by my income since my Darling Husband just graduated from school after going back) because I HATED the beliefs and implantation of those ideas of my former district. Don’t think it’s just national or state politics making decisions. If you’re in a shitty district that pools resources to certain groups (AP for example), then it really can be miserable. I spent my entire time in that district fighting for a better, more meaningful and interesting curriculum for all our seniors. 

Where I’m at now, my teammate and I decide the content of our class completely. We still backward design and use the state standards to guide us, but we get to decide how that will look for our students based on their needs. I love that. That’s how I started my career in my old district. 

If you think you’ll love the kid part, do it. Be realistic and know you’re going to have to set aside your own beliefs to make sure you meet the needs of your students. There are way too many teachers who “love their subject” but aren’t good or refuse to work on relationships with kids. That’s the part that matters. That’s how you actually get kids to want to learn. 

ETA: The politics may not be that different, but the control part is what affects K-12 public school teachers most. The lack of trust in you as a competent professional is what weighs on most teachers. 

Post # 4
Member
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

FutureMrsBex :  100% agree with you. Admin changes everything. I just left a district with little to no admin support because I couldn’t handle the hypocrisy and lack of interest in showing trust and support in the professionals they hired. 

Post # 6
Member
3417 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I didn’t even make it through my first year. Teaching just isn’t my passion, and I think that’s why I couldn’t handle it. The admin was also horrible and the exact opposite of supportive.

My husband is in his 4th year as a social studies teacher. He loves his job, but he still constantly talks about quitting. Like you, he loves building relationships with students. But if he could find literally any other job he was mildly interested in, I know he’d quit teaching immediately. Especially because the admin at his current school sucks, and the school culture and politics… It’s hard to believe adults act that way. Again, he “loves” teaching. But he still says that if he could go back and do it over, he’d pick a different major.

Also, as I’m sure you’ve heard- the summers don’t make up for it. When it comes down to it, teachers spend countless nights and weekends working. The summer is basically just allowing you to almost break even for all those hours you put in.

It honestly sounds like teaching might be a good fit for you. Especially if the pay is decent where you are.

Post # 7
Member
94 posts
Worker bee

I am not a teacher but 3/4 of my teacher friends have said they wouldn’t have chosen to be a teacher if they knew then what they know now. Various reasons include:

Dealing with belligerent parents

Dealing with belligerent students

Kids having smartphones

The endless amounts of grading tests, homework and assignments

Having to go back to school to learn more periodically

Low pay

 

My friend who is a high school art teacher likes it

Post # 8
Member
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

dianaj17 :  It really is a hard profession mainly because of the adults within it. That sounds awful but is so true. With any “kid”, I’ve learned that the best way is to treat them with respect. Don’t go in demanding they respect you simply because you’re the teacher. Talk to them, don’t yell, don’t lecture, but hold them to high expectations. Kids are smart and they know when they’re not meeting expectations. I MUCH prefer conversations and resolving issues with kids rather than parents. Parents can be so deluded about what kids will do simply because they are kids. 

Depedning on the grade level you wanted to teach, prepare yourself for that parental involvement. When I taught seniors and juniors, kept parents informed but expected my students to resolve issues/conflict. Teaching 6th has been an adjustment because of the parents mainly. Sooo many who need to learn how to hold their child accountable and stop scapegoating on teachers. 

Post # 9
Member
176 posts
Blushing bee

I’m in Canada (Ontario) and I was a teaching assistant at a private school before leaving to teach at a school board. Currently, I’m in the supply teaching stage and don’t have my own classroom yet. Given your comment about leaving a full time to supply, I’m guessing you’d be in a similar position.

Going to say, supply teaching is HARD. It’s very different when you’re a random face for a random day. The respect is not always there with the kids or the admin, but the best we can do is try. It’s an interesting learning experience (especially with things you see in others’ classrooms). There are people who say that this is great for learning, but I’d 100% trade it for my own classroom in a heartbeat. I also miss the connection with a class I’m in regularly. It happens a bit with classes and schools that ask me to return regularly, but it absolutely isn’t the same.

Im definitely looking forward to have enough seniority to apply to long term and contract positions to make those connections and having a better pay (took a pay cut with this job switch, as well as losing my benefits 😢 working at an evening tutoring school and Saturday school to compensate and still not as much as I used to make!). I know I’ll get there one day, but it’s necessary to have a great love for the profession and at least one supportive person who can cheer you on.

 

Good luck with whatever you choose! I do enjoy my job and interacting with students, even if it’s for a short amount of time. I hope you love whatever you do. (:

Post # 10
Member
1114 posts
Bumble bee

I wouldn’t do it if I were you. 

I have a similar background – I graduated with a BA in history. I am a MAJOR history buff. I am constantly elbow deep in some history book, and I can talk about the subject for hours. I was on track for a PhD in Medieval history when I left the program and transitioned to elementary ed. I was going through a rough time, there was a death in my family, and I needed a job that paid something soon. Teaching was it. 

I was lucky in that I’m a very good teacher. It comes very naturally to me. I’m usually a school favorite, I have amazing rapport with the kids, the parents usually like me a lot, and I get along with my coworkers. I plan out intricate and engaging lessons. I teach them to play historical sports, we make historical food, we build things, we learn to meditate, create henna designs, write and perform plays, put on festivals, have political debates, recreate historical battles, and we decorate our room. Last year we created a castle inside and out complete with banners, dragons, a moat, and a dungeon. The kids used candles to write by, we made stained glass windows, and students were given feudal roles to play, complete with a royal court. We even had a jester who would sing and dance and tell jokes. This year I created a coffee shop and filled the room with couches, chairs, pillows, and soft rugs so they didn’t have to sit at their desks much. And through it all, I had people visiting my classroom and quizzing the kids on their knowledge, only to find that they knew WAY more than standard. But I do more than that. I stock snacks for kids who aren’t getting enough food at home. I walk them partway home. I mend their sweaters. I buy books on the Japanese language for the student who is obsessed with Japan. We talk about what it looks like to manage your anger, we talk about the ways they have experienced racism, we talk about their struggles with organization and time management. We talk about how to make the perfect hot cocoa. I hug them when they cry because their parents are divorcing. I teach them dance routines for talent shows and I help them learn how to sing in harmony for their music performances. I go to their sports games and their musicals. I call CPS when they confide that they have been abused and I hold them and tell them that it wasn’t their fault. I can walk into a classroom of kids running around and talking, calmly ask for their attention, and it will be so silent you can hear a pin drop. Last year for my birthday, my 8th graders went around the room and told me everything they loved about me. I loved the kids, I loved my job. And I can point to many other teachers who were doing the exact things I was doing and were giving even MORE. 

And yet, I left my position and I’m looking to transition out of teaching. Because at the end of the day, I don’t get anything in the way of better pay or title than the teacher who doesn’t interact, goes home at 3, and gives her kids worksheets. I regularly spent 10-15 hours at work every day, and if I had a doctor appt I couldn’t get a day off without having to call my own sub in and then I had to plan minutely the entire day, and when I got back I would have to do damage control (not the sub’s fault, it’s tough being a sub and I very much appreciated when ANYTHING got done). My time wasn’t valued. Parents could be terrible jerks. I spent a lot of time helping a particular student who had behavioral issues, and for my time and my effort his parents came in and screamed in my face because their son lied about something he got in trouble for, and they thought I was ‘picking on him’. I’ve said “I am so DONE today” only to find someone told my principal I said I was DRUNK today. I’ve had principals come into my room screaming at me because there’s a piece of paper on the floor, I’ve been told I’m never allowed to sit down at all. I have to wait hours and hours to go to the bathroom and when I get a moment I have parents, administration, and coworkers in my room to try to talk to me in the few minutes we have before the kids come back. Every night I came home and I was exhausted and could barely function. I had no life outside the classroom.  

On top of my workload, there are events to plan, clubs to manage, field trips to organize, and a million things that administration has decided we need to focus on despite the fact that after that year we probably won’t use it again. I’ll be forced to attend professional development that I can’t even use. There will be meeting after meeting over things that can be sent in an email, and the things that I really need to talk with collegues with such as curriculum and class management are shoved aside so we can read a book together and complete busywork. And no matter what I am doing in class I can expect to be interrupted at a moment’s notice and be told that I have to keep the kids for an extra half hour and there goes my bathroom break, or I have to have the kids make ornaments by the end of the day, or something like that. No matter what you do it is never, ever enough. 

In high school you may not have to deal with some of that…but there is a reason I didn’t go into high school. My history program was full of men who didn’t give a crap about history. They are coaches. High schools love to hire coaches to teach history and most of them are terrible at it. It’s not their real job there. In fact, history is the least cared about subject in school, it seems. 

I am not saying teaching can’t be rewarding. It absolutely can. And you can definitely make a difference. But if you want to be a GOOD teacher, you will end up drowning in this career, making substantially less than your peers and working far more hours. You will end up having to miss your kids events because you have to be there for your students. And at the end of the day when you should be spending time with your family, you’ll be grading and planning lessons. Year after year the driven and creative teachers leave, and the ones who cut corners and never change their plans year to year stay. You’ll put everything into a career just to be treated like crap by people who sat in a classroom 20 years ago and think they know something. 

I would suggest career changing to a field that will pay you something and offer you some work-life balance. Keep history as a passion. Volunteer your time to tutor students. You will probably be happier for it. 

Post # 11
Member
77 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

Uk bee here, and I’m doing it a little differently – I’m a private tutor, specialising in sciences and maths, and I LOVE it. I work solely 1:1, with students that want to be there and see the value in what we’re doing. Sometimes I miss the group interaction of a buzzing classroom, but I have never once missed the bureaucracy and paperwork! 

Being self employed isn’t for everyone – it’s very seasonal here, so I have July-sept off, but work 7 day weeks Feb-June. That’s my choice though, as I love my job and my students so I find it hard to turn people away, even right now when I have 50-60 hours/week booked in. Financially, I guess I make probably the same as a head of dept, but when my lessons finish I’m done. And apart from necessary business admin like accounts, I don’t think about work once I shut the door to my classroom. 

Just another thought for you…

Post # 12
Member
151 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

I’m in my 4th year as a primary teacher. I would not recommend teaching if you are 1) not a morning person 2) an introvert. I’m an introvert and a night owl and I’m constantly emotionally and physically exhausted. My social life is non existent because I just want to be alone or with my husband after I’ve packed the kids home for the day. I’m going to take a year out in 18 months to get some of my mojo back. Most teachers gain weight, because nobody has energy for the gym after putting out fires in the classroom all day. I wish I chose a more introvert friendly career. The holidays are great, but it’s needed for recovery. I don’t feel health wise it’s sustainable for me.

Post # 13
Member
1575 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2018 - Location

So many negative responses :/ 

I’m in my 6th year of teaching (high school – science) and I LOVE IT! Can’t imagine being in any other career. Almost every day is fun, I get to interact with young people and be myself. No one laughs at work as much as teachers! My students are awesome and I have great colleagues (ok a couple people suck but I just avoid them). Yeah, sometimes the admin aren’t great but who cares? I do what I want in my classroom and they rotate the principals around every couple years so it doesn’t really affect me. 

Yes, the marking SUCKS but doesn’t every job have one part that people don’t enjoy? 

All of this being said I would say it’s pretty risky to leave your job to go back to school and start a new career without knowing if you like it. When I was in undergrad for my BSc I did lots of volunteering and placements in schools to make sure it was a good fit. A bachelor of education is required here and that’s another two years of university after your undergrad (all courses in pedagogy, spec ed, curriculum, social justice stuff, and your practica) so it’s a pretty big commitment and costs about $15k. 

FYI – I live in Canada where we are well compensated, have good benefits, job security, etc so all of those factors definitely help. I don’t know where you are located and what the working conditions are like. 

Post # 14
Member
1025 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2020

High school PE teacher here. My first 2 years were rough. It wasn’t until my 3rd year when I finally felt like I was actually teaching and building the relationships that I wanted. I struggled a lot with classroom management in the beginning and finding out who I was and who I wanted to be as an educator. At my school we like to say, “kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Initially my school had a very punitive discipline policy that, for me, felt very unnatural. Our admin is AMAZING and our network is always learning how to better support our students… so that system has changed and since then I’ve seen a dramatic increase in my classroom culture. 

I’m nearing the end of my 5th year and although some days are hard and I’m exhausted, most days I feel fulfilled and proud of what I do, of my students growth, and the relationships I have cultivated. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else… but it took A LOT of perseverance and work to get here.

Teaching is not like what you see on TV or in the movies. Have you considered shadowing any teacher friends for a few days, dianaj17?

Post # 15
Member
1017 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

I’ve been a teacher for 4 years, in a large urban city. I have been at my current job for 3 years and every year I’ve looked for new teaching jobs because my school is a nightmare. I’m a specialist teacher and the lack of support for me (and really everyone else) from admin and parents is ridiculous. I love when I actually get to teach, but the classroom management is what’s difficult for me.

I guess it depends on what level you’d want to teach and where. Obviously with college aged kids, you’d have less behavioral issues. Where I teach, most of the kids are used to controlling the school and getting away with murder (by admin).

Sometimes I cry when driving home, driving to work, on Sunday nights. I would HIGHLY recommend doing observations/substituting for the level you’re interested in. A lot of the Teacher for America teachers in my school (who had minimal training in the summer without a teaching degree) are drowning

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