Post # 1
I’m an intern at an elementary school….and the teachers are just so disappointing. They are always complaining about testing, salary, time and what they don’t get because they are teachers. They are very discouraging and I’m only an intern! I’m so worried about teaching once I graduate. Am I going to be miserable…. will I have no time for myself after work? These teachers are really making me feel like I made the wrong career choice.
Any student teachers / teachers going through this?
Have any uplifting words or advice?
Post # 3
I’m a 2nd year teacher and I have to say it’s been a little disappointing. My world now revolves around meetings, data, and test scores. I still love what I do in the classroom, but it’s just a small fraction of the job and it’s important to know that beforehand. I’m not sure what private schools are like, but maybe do some research to see if there isn’t as much pressure on test scores since they typically don’t have as much of a focus on it.
Post # 4
Oh my goodness, I’ve heard it all too. I’m studying to be an elementary school teacher.
The most depressing was when I would discuss going into teaching with some of my favorite teachers/former teachers. Nearly all of them would warn me away from the profession and tell me not to do it.
Granted, I live in Arizona, and education is truly shit here. We always rank in the bottom three nationwide.
I think the most discouraging comment I ever recieved was from my roommate’s grandfather. He used to be an engineer. My roommate, who plans to go to med school, was discussing it with someone else, and I was just sitting by. Her grandfather leans over to me and says, “Who even knows what they are talking about? I guess all you need to know is how to play with blocks.”
Ouch. Thanks. Good to know my job is just playing with blocks! He clearly doesn’t think my role is important at all. And the sad reality is there are a lot of people out there who think this way.
Well now I have probably depressed you more! Haha. But know you’re not alone. I am sure we all get this.
Ultimately I think it is good to go into the profession knowing what I am getting myself into. I would be in trouble if all I saw was the glamour. I’d truly be disappointed then! I need to see the paperwork, the red tape, the behind the scenes. That helps me to judge whether it is truly worth it. And to me, it is.
And ultimately, when I get discouraged, that quickly goes away when one of my little first graders reads a book all by himself and is just so proud that he runs around the room telling everyone. It’s the best feeling in the world to be a part of the learning process.
Post # 5
@bowsergirl: And ultimately, when I get discouraged, that quickly goes away when one of my little first graders reads a book all by himself and is just so proud that he runs around the room telling everyone. It’s the best feeling in the world to be a part of the learning process.
I’m studying to be an elementary school teacher right now, and every time I get bogged down I remember what it’s like to watch a child’s face light up with understanding.
Post # 6
@Train87BEE: I think this is the situation for the education world in general! I work at a charter school as a community programs director and the work hours can be quite crazy. The Education sector is not where you go if you want a huge salary and lots of perks. It is very much like the nonprofit sector, you go into it because your values and ideals align with a mission and you have satistisfaction for what you do. You must be passionate about teaching or supporting educational professionals, and that is what makes it work it.
I love my job and would not change it for anything. I realize that my skills (I also do marketing/graphic design) could command a lot more money in the private/business sector, but I would not be passionate about what I do. My heart and passion is for helping close the achievement gap for low income and minority students, so that is why I chose my current job.
I know my job is worth it, not when I get my paycheck, but when I see a family understand and begin to appreciate what a good education can do for their family and child. When a family thanks me for recruiting them because they had almost given up on finding a school that could help their child improve because they had been 2-3 grade levels behind. Yes, it is stressful on a daily basis, but there are small moments you have to cherish.
Also, bare in mind that while it can be insanely crazy at times, the education calendar does allow for breaks/holidays/vacations more so than other jobs do. My school is year-round, but we still have 60 built in days off throughout the year. These breaks are very much needed and well deserved. Some people assume that because you have this time off, then you shouldn’t complain (that is so far from the truth), but it is a great time to rest, relax and recouperate.
Post # 7
- Wedding: January 2013 - Atrium at the Curtis Center
I’ve been a teacher for 7 years, this is my 8th (even though I’m in the library now, I still teach 5 classes a day!). When I was a classroom teacher (5th for 2 years, 6th for 4) I was really surprised how little of my job was made up of actual teaching. I would say teaching is only a third of what teachers actually do, planning/grading is probably the largest chunk of what goes into it, with little time for professional development which is probably more crucial than anything. It sucks that this is what our profession has become, and yes, it is disappointing and discouraging sometimes, but I don’t know anyone who became a teacher for the money. I don’t think it’s bad that you are seeing the negative side to teaching before you get there, maybe it will help with the adjustment once you get your first job.
You do need to find a balance, it’s so easy to get sucked into staying really late, and working over every weekend, coming in on your days off…and really if you think of jobs that require THAT much work, they are often higher paid ones. Whenever someone says to me, “Oh, teachers only work 10 months, they should get paid less” I usually reply that I do 12 months of work in a 10 month time, and if they’d like to experience one day in my job, I always welcome guests in. 🙂 (no one has ever taken me up on it!)
There is a lot of pressure on teachers, and I don’t see it getting any better anytime soon. Good luck with finishing your internship!
Post # 8
Disclaimer: I have never taught in America (working on getting ym certification for there right now)
I am a primary/elementary teacher, although at the moment I’m living in Japan doing ESL (teachers here still work as hard, but are treated well).
In New Zealand I taught in two schools. In both I taught 11-13 year olds (our primary/elementary structure is unitl 13). The difference between schools was huge. The workload in one was MUCH higher than the other. Be aware that the school/ district you work for can make a huge difference (on the other hand, in researching US teaching, it seems like at elementary you have to take whatever you can find). The thing is, no matter how difficult it was , having that child who traditionally hated school start to enjoy it at 13, because you and he had a strong reltationship, makes it 300% worthwhile.
Post # 9
I was a long term guest teacher at the end of last year but this year I got my own classroom. I now teach Kindergarten. I LOVE kids and LOVE teaching. However, teaching isnt just teaching. I teach in a low income district and I am already feeling burnt out because of all of the demands. Even if I were a teacher in a better district, there are a lot of demands but add that I am a mom, friend, counselor, doctor, and everything else to my children, it makes it harder. To be honest, I am very disappointed and I no longer want to teach. You can look on my other boards that I am considering the idea of pursuing something else. I am so weighed down by the constant paper work, data, planning, making sure my kids get food and resources to survive, that I feel like my teaching suffers. I go into work everyday at 7:30am and leave at 5:00 at the earliest. I came into it KNOWING that I would work a lot with low pay but it is actually worse than I anticipated. I am not sure where you live but I live in MI. A step one BA 1st year teacher comes in at about $36,000…then for each paycheck you get TAXED like crazy, I get over $400 taken out of each paycheck due to my union dues, insurance, 401k, etc. Let me just put it to you this way, I nannied for a family that paid really well and I quit that nanny job to pursue my ‘career’…and I took a pay cut. I made more money as a nanny than a teacher. Yes, you get raises every year (IF big IF, there is not a pay freeze) but, you make crap money for doing a lot of very hard work. Feeling overworked, underpaid and underappreciated will eventually get to you…and its already getting to me. I know that I do not want to do this much longer, its just too much of everything. So many legistics that I just dont want to deal with…like I said, teaching is not just teaching. Things are only going to get worse in this field with all the demands and very little pay and respect.
Post # 10
I think the respect this is a big one. You should just know, going into it, that your motivation will have to be intrinsic.
I feel pretty good about my current school (in terms of my principal), but I’ve definitely worked in schools where it’s kind of sucked because students, by nature, just aren’t appreciative of anything you do. Cognitively, they can’t look outside their own lives to notice what other people may be doing for them…so that’s the first lesson I learned. It didn’t matter if I spent all weekend planning an amazing activity or lesson that was an “interesting” way of learning something–when I would introduce it to the class, half the students would groan and complain anyway. Almost like they prefer just rote memorization and worksheets. So, lessons 1) don’t expect 90 % of students to appreciate what you do.
2) 90% of parents don’t understand or appreciate what you do. You may hear once in a year a positive thing from a parent. But you will DEFINITELY hear if there’s something they don’t like. Read any comments section on any article on Education on online newspapers, and you will see that the general public has no idea how hard teaching is, and they alllll think they can do it better. Except they never have. This is where comments like “you just get to play with blocks all day long” come from. sigh.
3)principals will drive you hard and will rarely give any kind of positives or encouragement. I’ve seen this time and time again. Principals will get on the the entire faculty for something that 1 teacher is doing wrong, but never compliment the other 95% who are doing a good job. Again, I’ve been lucky to have principals who generally like me, but I’ve seen them target other teachers for really no good reason and make their lives miserable.
So basically…..money and stress aside, I think it’s the thankless nature of the job that makes it SO difficult.
Post # 11
@BookGirrl: You summed it up really well. I think #3 is a HUGE one. My last school in NZ had an amazing principal (actually, I’ve been lucky in this area – the one before did too), and it was amazing to see how motivated, positive and awesome the whole team was.
Post # 12
I have a master’s in teaching, I taught for three months in an inner-city school, left, and never went back to teaching. Classroom teaching really, REALLY wasn’t for me. I will say I have such a new found resepect for teachers and all they do as they are very over-worked, over-stressed, and under paid. However, my mentor teacher when I was an intern loved her job. So… you might just love it. Don’t let others deter you. Good luck.
Post # 13
I’d just like to apologize for teachers everywhere. I have an intern right now in my classroom and I know I haven’t been the most encouraging person for him. He is great, but I do feel that my classroom is a good look at what it’ll really be like. I hope I’ve provided an accurate portrayal of an urban 8th grade experience without discouraging him! Good luck to you! I agree with PP that you must be intrinsically motivated because this is one of the HARDEST professions.
Post # 14
@Diamond84: When schools are better funded (hahahahha I am so funny), you should look around for specialist positions that allow you to work with smaller groups of students. I work as a reading coach, and see at most 9 students at a time. I love it!
To the OP — teaching is a difficult job, and I think many people are unqualified when they become teachers. I think teacher education does not prepare people to teach. So it’s going to be a shock when you get into your classroom. It also takes about three years to settle — get used to teaching, to be a good teacher. So you have to be patient with yourself and with your students.
Teacher education: This needs to be drastically improved. Potential teachers should follow a five year university program wherein they spend three years pursuing a content area major (whatever they want — English, psychology, history, French, Spanish, comparative languages, linguistics, biology, geology, anthropology — it doesn’t matter), and then two years working on educational theory classes. During this time, they should be in the classroom with a variety of age groups to determine which group they feel most comfortable with. The first year of “student teaching” should consist mostly of getting a feel for teaching and what it entails, and the second year should be basically co-teaching with their mentor teacher. During co-teaching, student teachers should be required to be in the building for the exact same hours as their mentor teacher, and they should be paid a living wage. Not what teachers are paid, but enough to live on. If teachers want to be taken seriously and respected, they need to earn that respect. They will earn it by working hard at their own education.
Post # 15
@peachacid: I like your training idea.
Post # 16
In the 12 years that I’ve been teaching, the job of teachers has become harder and the reward steeper, and then lately the teachers have become nation’s scapegoats. So teachers tend to vent to each other about things because so many people on the outside (mostly politicians, but it can even be parents of students, and people in general who don’t know how teaching works) don’t realize how hard it is to be a teacher. To be sh*t on by people who say that it’s the teacher’s fault that our nation’s education is in the toilet when there are hard working teachers who put so much of themselves into their job can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. There are bad teachers, yes. Everywhere, there are bad people!
But that aside, I wouldn’t trade my job, on most days I get burned out, I get exhausted, and I feel like I should get paid more for what I do. I teach high school. I put up with a lot. Some days, I can’t wait until I can retire!! Because yes, I’m in it for the long haul. But, I get to work with some incredible and fun kids, who against great odds, are making things of themselves. It’s very rare that I dislike an individual student, because they all have something to offer. And they grow up and I’ve kept in touch with many of them as they’ve become adults. The most rewarding thing is when they find me and tell me what a difference I made, or that they remember something from my class. It validates that I am good at what I do and that I have made an impact.
I have some great things that I love about my job itself that a lot of jobs can’t offer- like summers off, holidays off, weekends off. I may have to grade papers on my own time, but I can flex that around the things that I want to do, I’m not chained to a desk on my time off. I can get a sub if I need to leave to take care of my own kids.
There are benefits and there are disadvantages to being a teacher. It takes the right kind of person, and you won’t know until you are there. A lot of teachers leave in their first 3 years. If you can stick it out beyond that and not want to jump off a cliff you are good to go. If you get through your first year and then after the summer you WANT to come back? That’s a great start. It’s not a horrible job to have.