(Closed) Teacher Bees at the High School and College Levels – A Couple of Questions

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 2
1582 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

Sending you a message 🙂

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  wonderlily.
Post # 3
4239 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

One thing I think you may find if you go the high school route is you are too expensive to get your first job.  Having your Master’s you will be at a different level in the pay scale, plus you won’t have any high school classroom experience to back you up.  I know MANY friends who got their Master’s in education and had a hard time getting their first teaching job because they were highly educated but had zero experience.  Schools will likely hire someone who has their Bachelor’s with no experience simply because they are cheaper.  Unfortunately with things the way they are right now schools need to cut corners as much as possible to save money.  Keep in mind too high school is verrrrrrrrry different than college courses.  College kids pay to be there.  High school kids don’t.  You have to be ready for the drama, kids talking back at you, kids thinking they know better, kids trying to sneak their phones into your classes, kids trying to purposely test you…it’s a WORLD of difference.  I’m not trying to scare you but if you truly want to teach high school, make sure it’s one of your deepest passions.  There are too many teachers out there who got into the field only because it was convenient.

Post # 4
1839 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

I have a Master’s in higher education administration, and I’ve taught classes before, but am not faculty (I’m on the administrative/student services side).  My advice would be to start job searching and applying now (for December/January hire positions).  See what kind of bites you’re getting.  Decide from there. 

I personally think you’re qualified for a teaching position (not necessarily a professor position but that’s not what you want anyway).  You’ll have better chances at community collleges, regional state schools, and private schools because they focus/specialize in undergraduate teaching.  Large, flagship state school, research universities are where they’d mostly expect you to do research.  I’m sure you know that already though.

Of course your professors are telling you to get your PhD.  That’s what they all did.  It’s the typical answer to “I want to teach higher ed.”  But to go through all that time and effort to get a PhD for something you don’t even want to do sounds like a huge waste.  I know several colleagues who “only” have their Master’s in student affairs/higher ed who teach classes.  If we can do it I think you can too, especially with your real world experience. 

Post # 5
5081 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

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MelissainNC:  I’m getting a PhD in biology, so I know what getting a PhD is like in the sciences, but I have no idea about a field like political science. How many more years would it take? Would your years as a masters student count toward that or would you be graduating with a masters and starting over? I know in my program, we don’t need a masters, so if you’re a masters student you can just bump up to PhD and still count your time and credits and just get the PhD without actually graduating with the masters, so it would only add a few more years, rather than starting at the beginning. Also, would your program be funded? Again, I know most science programs are funded, but not sure about other areas. If unfunded, I’d probably just leave with the masters. If funded and only adding 2 years, then I might consider it since teaching is your goal and a PhD would probably give you more options.

All that said, I think that your experience should be enough to get a community college teaching job, or at least an adjunct to bolster your experience first. I know that my university hires a bunch of MS adjuncts to teach lab courses all the time. I’m looking for jobs right now and I find that there are a good amount of open adjunct positions for people with MS qualifications. 

Honestly, I’m in my last semester of my PhD, and if I could go back, I would probably just get a masters. I don’t want to be a tenure track professor (or really a professor at all) and most of the jobs that I’m looking at don’t even require a PhD, I could have gotten a BS and worked my way up for the last 4.5 years to get to the same position in many cases. 

Post # 7
1183 posts
Bumble bee

Here in UK, high school and college (16-19) teaching is a postgraduate level profession. Having a masters degree is usually a ‘desireable’ characteristic on person specifications so it’s certainly looked upon well. its also expected for more senior posts. 

Its not unheard of for people with PhDs to teach. There’s about half a dozen Drs in my school but that’s more than most. Often British private school would value PhD applicants more because it sounds nice in their prospectus. 

Post # 8
985 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

Honestly, my advice would be to start the PhD program (but ONLY if it’s fully-funded) and continue getting teaching experience while working on the PhD. If you find another place that’s willing to hire you before you finish, in a job that you’re satisfied with—great! You can drop out of the PhD program once you already have the job lined up (or continue to the end if you’re close and feel like it’s worth it). In the meantime, you’ll be getting more experience toward the job that you ultimately want. The main concern would be to pursue the PhD at a place that offers plenty of teaching opportunities (i.e., not necessarily a “top” school). The place where I’m doing my PhD emphatically does not encourage teaching or provide many opportunities to do it, and it’s made me pretty miserable because I also ultimately want to be teaching.

As to whether you can find a position without a PhD, that depends enormously on what field you’re in, and I couldn’t speak for political science. I know in math it’s pretty common to get hired as an adjunct with only a Master’s.

Post # 9
1051 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

I’m a high school science teacher with a master’s degree in cirriculum and instruction.  I can only give advice on how the districts in my area are.

In my state, especially my area, there are so many applicants for open teacher positions it’s ridiculous.  Applicants are separated by several criteria and put into groups and I know one of the groups is “older” adults that have gone back for teaching degrees.  Other groups are those that are certified to teach more than one subject (huge in our district), those that have special ed endorsements, and those applicants that were students in our district or were substitute teachers in the district, for example.  My district loves to hire former students that went through the system.  While I was not a former student, I did my student teaching at my school and I think I was very lucky to get hired, plus this was before the recession.  Our district has hired people that have gone back for teaching degrees, but like a PP said, they are more expensive to hire off the bat so they don’t always get the same consideration as “cheaper” applicants.

I’ll be honest – social sciences is the subject that gets the most applicants.  And the fact that you are “only” poly sci means that you don’t have enough to stand out.  Now if you were to have the qualifications to teach, say, poli sci and spanish, you would definitely rank higher.

I think you have to narrow your focus – do want to teach college or high school?  If you decide you want high school, do it because you really WANT to teach high school not because it’s easier as far as additional schooling is concerned.  If you decide high school and get your certifications, apply to be a substitute teacher as that’s a great way to get your foot in the door.  I’m speaking from a public school perspective – there are a lot of private schools whose requirements aren’t as stringent.

A friend of mine teaches at the community college level and absolutely loves it.  She has a great work/family balance.  I’ve considered switching a few times because at the high school level also, you are expected to be involved with extra cirricular activities.  In addition to teaching, I am one of the girls varsity volleyball coaches.  Coaching takes up a lot of time – I love it, but it is another big time commitment – I’m lucky to cook at all this time of year!

You are right – there are a lot of teachers that are in it for the wrong reasons, and because of tenure, it’s really hard to get rid of them.  This is my 9th year of teaching and there are good days and bad, just like any other job.  From what I’ve seen, those teachers that are “older” that come in from other fields do just fine.  I think it’s just harder for them to get hired.

Best of luck!

Post # 10
133 posts
Blushing bee

I’ve taught college classes as a grad student and as part of a student services position. I earned my master’s and was considering going for a Ph.D in a social sciences area. I took longer to finish my master’s and by the time I was finished some of my former classmates were finishing Ph.D programs and having a hard time finding teaching positions. I definitely wouldn’t do a Ph.D if you have to take on any debt for it. 

I’m not sure if you aren’t concerned about the low income because you have financial support from other sources or because you are focused on doing something you love.

I would keep a couple things in mind. First, many adjunct positions are part-time so you end up piecing together jobs at more than one school if you want full-time work. Secondly, a lot of times you aren’t eligible for benefits. However, tenure track positions are also becoming more difficult to find. It may be worth looking into the high school route and you could always teach an evening class at a local college. 

Post # 11
75 posts
Worker bee

My sister has a phd in political science.  She taught with just her masters while working on her phd.  I think the problem she ran into was she had no job security.  Some semesters if she got lucky she would teach a full course load and other semesters she could only get one class (depending on the courses the university was offering/ if the courses filled up/ full time tenure track professor’s schedules etc etc).  So it was very difficult to budget and plan not knowing what her income for the year would be (Or if she’s have any at all!).  Getting the actual phd was brutal.  She had a long road but I know she’s glad she stuck it out.  It sounds like not having guaranteed full time work/income every semester might work for you though.  I will ask her opinion on the one semester teaching.  Good luck 🙂  

Post # 12
1321 posts
Bumble bee

I absolutely second what a PP said about only doing the PhD if it’s funded. 

Doing a PhD can be a brutal rollercoaster of emotions. If you find you don’t need to do it, I wouldn’t. It all depends on how important salary/job security are to you. 

Post # 13
448 posts
Helper bee

I’m finishing a PhD in a social science and teach at a community college part-time. You may be able to find part-time work at a CC with a Masters, but there are so many unemployed or underemployed people with PhDs who are going after those jobs that community colleges in desirable areas can get someone with a terminal degree without having to pay more. I was hired at the CC with 2 years of experience as an instructor at the state school, with a recommendation from the department chair and copies of student evaluations. At a CC, the only focus is on teaching (as opposed to research & publications at a 4-year school), so if you have great evaluations and recommendations, they might prefer to hire you over someone with a PhD but no experience.

My other idea is to look for schools wth political science departments that have internship programs. At my CC, the poli sci department has a credit internship with local government agencies for students looking to go into policy. There is a staff member who oversees the program, and also teaches poli sci courses. I know that internship programs are growing as colleges try to do more for career preparedness. Your background might make you very competitive for those jobs.

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