(Closed) Teacher Bees, I need your advice!

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
9172 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

no advice but it is never too late to switch careers.  a friend of mine in her mid thirties was tired of her marketing job and went back to school for her teaching degree.  she now teaches high school history and loves it.

Post # 3
Member
534 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

What makes a good teacher?

Super tough question to answer. In my opinion, a good teacher has to be creative and innovative to approach the curriculum in a variety of ways. However, they can’t be tooooo right brained, because their policies and procedures need to be super thought-out, consistent, and logical (in my opinion. I know lots of teachers who employ rules that I find totally arbitrary and I think that’s silly)

What grade do you teach?

I teach junior English and English 101/102 and 175, which are dual credit courses offered at my high school but exclusive to juniors. Those classes replace their junior year English credit and are weighted. 

How did you get into teaching? (degree, volunteering, etc)

Degree. I landed my first teaching job at 22, right out of college, at the same place I student taught – during my student teaching, actually.

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why?

I like aspects of it. I don’t think teaching high school will be my forever career. I’m about to finish my MA in English (I take grad classes during the summer) and might be on a PhD track after that.

Likes: constant human interaction and immediate feedback on my hard work (kids love my Prezis and guided notes that I slave over, and the oohs and ahhs help me feel like they are worth my time!), being personable and laughing all day, short (contracted) hours, occasionally really rewarding moments where students show growth or maturity or suddenly understand a concept we’ve been working on or appreciate my efforts.

Dislikes: the bureaucracy of the public education system. Oh my God. It’s the worst. Endless unnecessary meetings and paperwork. Kids that just don’t care or are rude no matter how hard I try. It’s really disheartening. Other teachers lol … I find other teachers to be super negative towards students and me because I’m young. Though it’s shorter actual work time, I’m exhausted and drained by constant human interaction (though I love it!) and find it hard to give students meaningful feedback if I grade after school. I often grade in mass on Sundays. I also often end up giving checkpoints for certain assignments that don’t require specific feedback and focusing my efforts on assignments that assess a standard and that feels like of icky to me – like why assign it if I don’t really grade it? But I simply don’t have time to grade the amount of practice they need to be doing and they won’t do it if I don’t give them at least a check for it. (Examples: vocab practice before tests, review guides, SAT prep stuff, grammar practices, etc.) I really struggle with this aspect of my philosophy. 

That’s another thing – your philosophy. Your rules should reflect it and it should be something you firmly believe so it’s easy to enforce rules consistently. I’m a bit wisn’t-washy with mine. My college had this idea that your philosophy would just come to you, and mine didn’t. I need to spend some time researching other people’s and adapting components to fit my personality and style because I think your philosophy really is the foundation of your approach. My philosophy has a few solid components – I don’t believe high schools are or should be college student factories, and I believe my students (at the junior level) are blossoming into adults and are more mature than their parents and other teachers often realize. I believe that their year of American literature should address the changing cannon of American literature better than my book does, so I supplement podcasts, modern essays (online articles), etc. I can’t teach them books that aren’t on my approved list, but I’d like to revamp that list and get some more modern work. I just don’t think Puritan literature deserves six weeks of my curriculum!! Sorry for the tangent.

Would you recommend teaching?

I recommend teaching to people who excel at details and planning, who don’t get pissy about jumping through silly hoops, and most importantly, who can really create meaningful relationships with a variety of personalities. You will wear a lot of hats and play a lot of roles for kids. Some need a parental figure and some need a friend. You have to be both in the same day, probably in the same class period.

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of? (i.e. Regulations, Etc).

Some schools offer a fast-track program for certification if you already have a degree in that area. It’s like a year of intensive educational theory and practicum placements. A colleague of mine went to school in Memphis for that specifically and I’m sure there are others scattered all over. Sounds like it could be a good fit for you?

Post # 4
Member
499 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

fourfrenchfries:  Well said.

 

Personally, I taught in the public school system for three years and left just two years ago. I was a high school teacher and I loved every minute of it. There really is not another job out there that is so rewarding.

I left for many of the negative reasons that fourfrenchfries stated. I was also working two jobs the entire time I was a teacher. The job is exhausting, underappreciated (it’s infuriating), and the kids will sometimes make you want to pull your hair out.

When I left I was a single girl struggling to make ends meet even with two jobs. When you have two incomes in a household, it’s much easier to teach. Most of my teacher friends were married and had a SO to depend on.

With that said, I still dream of my classroom. I still cry sometimes about making the wrong decision to leave. I still receive emails from former students telling me what a difference I made in their lives. I mean isn’t that the purpose of life, to make a difference? I think I struggle these days sitting in my cubicle at my HR job. I don’t feel as important as I did when I was a teacher. I had so much love from my students. As much as teaching could be absolutely nutty, I loved it.

Will I go back again someday, I don’t know… 

All I can tell you is love those kids, really love them, and the rest will fall into place.

 

Post # 5
Member
925 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - Vineyard on Long Island

fourfrenchfries:  +1 to all of this

 

also, depending on your state, you don’t need a teaching degree to start teaching.  at least in the 3 states i’ve lived, you need a BS in something related to your field and to pass a state teaching exam before you start teaching.  then, within 5 years, you need to begin a masters program for a degree in a concentrated field of education related to the subject you teach (ie: Masters of Education in English/Business).
It could be worth checking out the department of education website for your state/region/province/etc. to find out what the requirements are or talking to teacher friends 🙂

Post # 6
Member
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

Excited To Bee:  I am a high school English teacher. I am going into my 5th year and have taught all grades from 9-12. I have a special place in my heart for 9th and 12th graders. I used to teach both at my previous HS, but where I’m at now splits 9/10 and 11-12, so I teach at the senior high level. I’ll answer your questions one by one.

What makes a good teacher?

Many things. First and foremost, you have to actually care about students and helping them learn necessary skills. You have to love the content you teach and be passionate. Students can spot someone who doesn’t love what they do from a mile away. A great teacher has to care about making learning meaningful and engaging and needs to know that you can’t just teach how you learn best. You have to differentiate your teaching to reach all learners. Great teachers hold high standards of ALL students and know how to build solid relationships with students. The WORST teachers are condescending and think all students are inherently bad and dumb. You have to respect your students for them to respect you. If you do show that respect and that you care (even if it’s from a harsh lesson), they will do whatever they can to please you. 

Also, great teachers are constantly improving what and how they teach from class to clas and year to year. The teachers who never change are ineffective, boring, and send the message that they don’t care enough to learn how to do better. 

What grade do you teach?

11 and 12. I LOVE seniors and tolerate juniors. Senior year is my favorite because I push them in ways they didn’t expect and we have real meaningful discussions that ties curriculum to the world we live in. Seniors are so ready to see the relevancy and connection. 

How did you get into teaching? (degree, volunteering, etc.)

I decided it just felt right my junior year of college and switched from English to Secondary English Ed. I have a Bachelor’s in the above major and a M.Ed. emphasizing curriculum and instruction. 

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why?

Overall, I love the actual teaching and student interaction. I despise dealing with ignorant parents and the politics that drive education in our country. We are doing a huge disservice to our youth with our current set up and I like pushing the boundaries to make my content relevant. 

Would you recommend teaching?

To the right person, yes. I HATE when people say, “I don’t know what I want to be. Guess I can always teach.” 😒 That attitude is part of the reason this profession is so disrespected. No, you can’t just teach. You have to have a passion for the students and what you teach, and the personality to build a productive classroom. 

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of? (i.e. Regulations, Etc).

Salary, conflict resolution, parental involvement/communication, ability to treat all students equally, how to deal with administration who may not be supportive. Do you honestly understand that to be effective, you must constantly work on your teaching and change how you do things? 

I would HIGHLY suggest you get into a classroom immediately and interact with students in a real way. I completed my degrees in MO, and you are in the classroom almost immediately and responsible for teaching small lessons and interacting with students. TX (where I’m at now) doesn’t do anything but “observation”. This is not a profession you can simply observe and master. It takes constant practice and change and many, many years. 




Post # 7
Member
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

fourfrenchfries:  You sound a lot like me with your philosophies. Continue to fight for what you know is best for your students. English teachers in particular get stuck in a HUGE rut and believe we can’t go beyond the “sacred” texts. I teach in TX now and gave some teachers a friggin heart attack when I suggested that perhaps Shakespeare wasn’t the most effective (or relevant) text for what we were trying to help students to learn. So many weren’t “comfortable not teaching Shakespeare to seniors.” Personally, I believe we teach skills and the texts we use (videos, articles, novels, poetry) should be there to help students master those skills, and not simply because “we’ve always taught it.” (That should be the English teacher motto across the US). I lost the Shakespeare battle, but will continue to fight it. 

I love teaching my subject creatively and also place great emphasis on the speaking component of English. 

I also disagree with traditional grading as it is absolutely arbitrary and never actually objective, but that would start a riot with parents and administration. I firmly believe in standards-based grading and would love to see a massive overhaul of our system. 

Post # 8
Member
591 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2017

What makes a good teacher? I believe a good teacher is someone who is brave enough to go against tradiitonal methods that aren’t effective for helping students achieve (such as tradiitonal lecture while the kids take notes then take a test model.) Having a humble heart and becoming a life-long learner myself has helped ensure my content is always fresh and my pedagogy is evolving to suit best practices. I also believe that a good teacher is someone who has natural relationship building skills; there is NO WAY I would be nearly as effective in teaching if I didn’t make such strong relationships with my kids. Strong relationships built on mutual respect, empathy, and understanding of the kids’ situations has eliminated a host of behavior issues and has given me a place of respect among my kids; they do what I ask because they respect me and know that I love them dearly.

What grade do you teach? 7th and 8th grade science

How did you get into teaching? (degree, volunteering, etc) I was a bio major in college with dreams of becoming a vet, but when I failed my first course (calculus), I knew it was going to be a very tough road. I also did an internship at a vet clinic and didn’t care for the day-to-day operations of the profession. Crazy as it sounds, I had a dream one night that I was a teacher, so the very next day I called my cousin (who was teaching 4th grade) and asked if I could shadow. I loved the creativity, innovation, and deep thought she instilled in these 4th graders. That summer I changed my major and haven’t looked back!

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why? I LOVE teaching because I adore building meaingful, authentic relationships with my kids. I work at a school that is 97% free and reduced lunch, so because of the demographics, the majority of my kids don’t have a positive adult role model in their life. I also love teaching because I learn new things all the time, whether it be about my students or teaching in general. Lastly, I love the freedom to innovate and be creative in my classroom. My administration is awesome in allowing me the choice to experiment and try new ways of teaching the material to my kids.

Would you recommend teaching? Yes and no. There are some really, really bad teachers out there and our country certainly doens’t need more of them. I recommend teaching to people who strive to do something meaningful with their lives, are creative, INCREDIBLY flexible and able to come up with something on the spot when things go wrong, are natural public speakers and entertainers (you have to be with middle/high school students who don’t all have a natural vested interested in school anymore!), and more than anything else, are humble enough to be accepting of suggestions and changes in the classroom without thinking they know it all. HOWEVER, I work a lot. A LOT; this year at least 55-60 hours a week, every single week, for 10 months.. I have summers off, but I have worked every day preparing for next year, researching, creating materials, making changes from last year, etc. The hours I work and the pay I receive don’t match very fairly. I always heard teachers didn’t make a lot, but man… it really hit me when I got into the profession. There is also a lot of stupid policies on a state and district level that aren’t really benefitting students (the ridiculous amount of testing, for example.)

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of? I would definitely get into a classroom to shadow before you make the plunge. I would also pick up a lot of books on teaching and start researching. My favorites so far are “Tools for Teaching” by Fred Jones, “Teaching With Love & Logic” by David Funk and Jim Fay, and “Teach Like a Champion” by Doug Lemov. I’m also reading “Teach Like a Pirate” and recommend that as well; it has great suggestions for engagement. One piece of advice I can give is, although you would be teaching high school students, they are still kids. My biggest mistake was assuming that middle schoolers were old enough where we didn’t need to practice or really go over expectations and procedures. BOY was I wrong! Lastly, I would keep Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek in the back of your mind. I wouldn’t actually sign up until I had a classroom position, but is is incredibly helpful for minimizing your workload. I can’t wait to apply her principles next year and start saving time!

I applaud you for exploring this profession! It is a TON of work but I can’t imagine doing anything else. Only 28 more days until I meet my new batch of students and I can’t WAIT!

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by  Meglin.
Post # 9
Hostess
11051 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

What makes a good teacher? Someone who understands the science of teaching i.e lesson plans that include teaching styles to suit all learning needs and captures their interest

What grade do you teach? I taught teens aged 14-18

How did you get into teaching? Post graduate degree

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why? I liked aspects of it; the pastoral side, standing up and teaching, being a role model. I didn’t like; the targets set as I believe the focus is off the child, some behaviour, I had no support from senior members of staff including my mentor, the bureaucracy.

Would you recommend teaching? If I did it would for younger children 4 – 14, but as a PP has mentioned there is a lot of work involved, including when you’re on holiday.

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of? (i.e. Regulations, Etc). Visit as many schools as you can, good and the bad, especially the bad ones. As, well here anyway, many of the jobs are in the less desirable schools as the teachers in the nice schools know how lucky they are and don’t leave.

Post # 10
Member
137 posts
Blushing bee

Excited To Bee:  
Retraining is always an excellent idea!! Voluntary work is a good place to gain excellent life experience and I fully encourage you to do so to gain that experience, but it’s not realistic as actual teaching experience, impo, just because you’re not in a fixed position in a department with students who you form longer relationships with, etc.

What makes a good teacher:  being a learner, being open-minded, being personable.

What grade do you teach: University students.

How did you get into teaching:
I volunteered abroad and LOVED it, but felt like – although I had a natural ability, I had very few formal skills, so then I took some ‘teach english as a foreign language’ type qualifications, then volunteered abroad more. 
After that, I did a degree, then did a Masters, then a PhD and was required to train and teach as a Graduate Teaching Assistant as part of my doctorate. Then I landed a part-time lecturing job. 
It has never been my aim to teach, and I don’t intend to teach forevermore, but it is amazing experience and very rewarding – both at the end of most classes, and especially when you get all the lovely kind feedback!!

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why?
I LOVE inspiring people, I LOVE it when something you say or teach really opens students’ minds and gets them thinking about something in a new way. I love working with people, and I love being able to teach about something I believe to be important, and believe that others should know about.
I really don’t like the pressure. Even though I’m a natural and find it easy to be in front of huge audiences, when I’m teaching new material, I just cannot sleep the night before.. so teaching does affect my health sometimes.. Also, I hate that the way lessons are structured means you get no lunch break!! And I am a BIG eater.. so I hate not getting lots of time to eat.

Would you recommend teaching?
Yes, absolutely. But for personal reasons, rather than for ‘career aspiration’ reasons. So, if you personally enjoy ‘what teaching is’, do it.. but if it’s for some sort of accolade or glory… then no.

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of? (i.e. Regulations, Etc).
> Feeling like a failure when a lesson doesn’t go to plan / learners just do-not-understand what the work is, or how they’re meant to work through it.
> Blaming yourself for students’ lack of motivation or interest.
> Getting involved in pupils’ family situations – pastoral care is an honour, but can get very difficult sometimes..
> The sheer amount of planning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *breathe* !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fact you will bust your ass working WAY more hours than you want, because you want to do the job properly, and teaching requires you to work after work, across the weekends and into your holidays!

Post # 11
Member
329 posts
Helper bee

I’m a Canadian high school teacher so I’m not sure if my perspective is a bit too different, but I’ll offer my two cents anyway. I always recommend to anyone thinking of going into teaching to get themselves into a classroom for a few days. Whether it’s as an observer or as a volunteer, being in the classroom will give you some idea as to what you’re getting into. There are aspects about the job that nobody really talks about or there might be things that you just never fully realized until you see it in front of you. 

Anyway I’m a ninth year high school teacher. My teachables are English and Visual Arts. 

 

What makes a good teacher?

People are going to tell you a lot of things about what makes a good teacher, but I find that oftentimes it’s all perspective. Some students will consider you a great teacher, but some will think you’re eh. But that’s the reality of human interaction and the job is very much about human interactions and relationships. (Not even the Pope is liked by everyone.) 

That’s not to say there aren’t some core ideas that you should consider. You should definitely like your job. Definitely care about students and keeping up with your professional duties. You’ll need to be flexible, creative, and diplomatic with a good sense of time management.  

But I think a good teacher is a good human being. A good human being is fair, empathetic, generous, and caring. That doesn’t mean you can’t be strict, principled, and professional. A good human being can also be all those things. 

 

What grade do you teach?

I’ve taught from grade 9-12. We don’t get to choose our timetables so I get moved around a lot. 

 

How did you get into teaching? (degree, volunteering, etc)

I worked at a private art school for a few years and then later decided to keep my options open by getting my Honours B.A. in English and Visual Studies. I took another part-time job at a remedial school before I decided to take the plunge and got my Bachelor of Education. 

 

Do you like/dislike teaching? Why?

I enjoy teaching. There are aspects of it that I enjoy and there are things I really dislike. I enjoy the interactions, the challenge, and the stability of it. It’s a job that’s always changing, but also very constant and stable. I enjoy learning and building which are things you’ll do a lot as a teacher.

I’m going to be honest and just say it: I dislike marking. Marking is a necessary component of the job, especially if you’re an English teacher. I’m considered a pretty fast marker, but I had big classes so 10+ hours could be spent on just marking one set of assignments alone. I only mark because it’s part of the job and frankly I’ve yet to meet any teacher who gushes with joy at the thought of marking. 

You’ll get parents, students, and even administrators arguing with you about grades, your homework policies, your assignments, whatever. You’ll have to learn how to navigate that. You’ll also have to learn to work with a limited budget and children who do not appreciate that. 

You’ll also have to learn to manage your work-life balance. If you don’t, this job will eat you up. You’ll never be done everything. There’ll be a million things you have to get done and then June comes and oh well, guess it’ll get done next year unless you enjoy staying in a hot stuffy building in the middle of summer. I told my principal that thank God I don’t have children. They’ll be dead from neglect. And sure I joke about that, but I have colleagues who talk about how they hardly get to see their kids because the workload just gets too much.

Also be prepared for the public to talk poorly about you. They’ll love you when you throw yourself in front of bullets, but any talk about wages or increasing school funding and suddenly it’s “those who can do, do; and those who can’t, teach”. 

But if you love being in the classroom, then everything evens out. I adore my students. They’re beautiful human beings. You’ll also have some of the best stories. You might not be able to share all of them, but they’ll be hilarious. And sometimes one of them will say something that’ll warm up your heart and you’ll spend the next couple of days gushing about it. 

 

Would you recommend teaching?

That depends. Looking to get rich? Time off? Easy peasy work? Do you enjoy going to the bathroom any time you want and not have to hold it for 3+ hours? If so then I wouldn’t recommend teaching. 

 

What should I consider that I may not be thinking of?

Definitely shadow a teacher if you can. I would also look into the job prospects. Is it difficult to get a position? Would you need to move? Is there a union? If so, what are the job hiring rules that you need to be aware of? 

 

Post # 12
Member
4028 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

I really hate to discourage you but it really depends on where (the state) you are planning on teaching in. When I started teaching 9 years ago it was very different than it is now. I am in a state where teachers have become so vilified and many of the perks that were in place when I started teaching have been taken away at a rapid rate (pension plans and benefits). i love what I do but I do not do it for the money. I could never afford to live on my own with my salary in the state I live in and it has become very dire and depressing over the years. Because of that I do often regret my choice to teach and sometimes dream of having a new career. Yes I know the grass is not always greener but I had a very hard time this year justifying what I’m doing. I came home a lot crying and questioning my choice. I am aware that my post is super negative and I’m sorry but where I live it has become a terrible career to be in. 😢

Post # 13
Member
4028 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

cblank181:  reading your post was the opposite of mine wow.. I am sorry you think back and regret your choice, I hope you read what I wrote to gain some perspective. I’ve been pretty sad about this career for a long time. It’s really weird and it almost feels like the kids *knew* I was struggling. I got the most gifts this year then I’ve ever gotten. Every time I was gifted with something I cried like a baby. I feel so torn, in one regard I love what I do because I love shaping a young mind and watching them grow up into successful humans but another part of me hates the bureaucracy And all the bullshit. Then after getting the gifts and hugs from the kids it made me feel so guilty that i have been contemplating leaving this career that I did love once….

Post # 14
Member
4028 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

KatiePi:  I so agree with putting in more contemporary texts but man oh man I love my Shakespeare! They will have to pry Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth from my cold lifeless hands before they take those away from me 😜 LOL

Post # 15
Member
1352 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek

I’m not going to bother answering all of your questions and only skimmed some of the other responses. I think a few other bees have the same opinion as I do. I’m about to start my 6th year of teaching and am looking for other options. Teaching is so exhausting, and I, like most of my co-workers who started around the same time as I did, am completely burned out. Also, I have to tutor just to pay the bills. When I leave school each day, I’m never actually done; I almost always have 3 hours worth of grading to do each night, and I spend most of the day on Saturdays planning and catching up on grading, so I probably work about 70 hours a week.

If you are truly passionate about teaching (which it doesn’t sound like you are, since you’ve just recently started considering it), it might be the right career path for you. If you’re thinking of going into teaching for any other reason, DON’T!

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