Considering a switch to Teaching


#1

I would love to hear from any of you who may be teachers, or perhaps have loved ones/friends who are teachers.

A bit of backstory:

I have been out of college for a year, and have been blessed with a stable full time job. This job has allowed me to save money for an eventual downpayment (I’d love to have a family someday), and has been helping to pay for graduate tuition. I’ve gained some good skills, and have met some cool people. But within all of these perks, I don’t feel satisfied. I’ve gained enough insight to know I don’t want an impersonal office job.

Recently, a friend asked me to help him teach at his church (he is a youth minister), and the idea of helping with CCD really excited me! However, it fell on the one night a week that my graduate class fell on. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the idea of teaching. I look back at my past jobs while I was a student (Toys “R” Us in high school = kids, helping with the county’s summer school program = students, assisting with some undergrad classes at my college = students, RA [resident advisor] for 2 and a half years = students). When I think back to these, the pattern of working with kids and/or students becomes apparent. So, I’ve been thinking about the subjects I enjoyed as a student and the passions I have now, and have come up with the idea of physical geography/earth sciences, etc. Seems there is a critical need for earth science teachers in my county, and an interest in hiring more male teachers. 2 points for me :thumbsup:

Thankfully, I can remain where I am in comfort until I figure this out. Its weighing heavily on my mind, and I have since taken the opportunity to learn about what requirements there are, differents paths that can be taken to be certified, etc. My question to all of you is simply to provide some feedback if you or someone you know is a teacher. I’d love to know your thoughts on such a career, the pros and the cons, the satisfaction of it all.

I know it is not the most lucritive job out there. But I know a couple who are both teachers and have lived pretty comfortably. Truthfully, I don’t mind the idea of living humbly :slight_smile: But I do know I’d have to provide for a family someday.

The idea of impacting students the way I was impacted by some of my former AWESOME teachers just seems so darn cool. :cool: It all seems VERY satisfying to me, and it makes me quite happy thinking about the idea. I’d simply like a little bit of insight from others :smiley:

Thanks! Sorry for such a long-winded message :stuck_out_tongue: And, if possible, I could use a few prayers in consdiering this option :gopray2:


#2

I am not a teacher and I don’t know any personally…I hope you don’t mind me replying anyways. And of course I can offer you my prayers.

The part of your post I quoted above is what caught my attention. It doesn’t really matter if you are looking at being a teacher, an astronaut, or a plumber…you have to make sure that you know the CONS as well as the PROS.

I amsure that teaching can be a very satisfying career and very uplifting when you know you have a made a difference in someone’s life. But what about al of the times when you will feel unappreciated or even hated? What about the days you wonder why on earth you ever chose the profession because it feels like you’re not making a difference at all?

You mention having teachers that you felt were AWESOME… did you ever tell THEM that? Lots of students have/had teachers that make a big impact (myself included) but not many ever voice it to them. Or sometimes they do…20 years later.

If you are confident that you can handle the good with the bad, I say go for it! The world needs dedicated, passionate teachers who WANT to make a difference!

Malia


#3

As the parent of a teacher (currently only subbing) and as someone who has worked with children in many venues from volunteer work to day care I think you could “test the waters” so to speak by volunteering to teach a CCD class in your Parish. This can give you a better idea of whether you want to pursue this career path or not.

Actually working with Jr. High and High school students can give you a better idea if you are really cut out to make teaching them a career. This age range is a totally different animal than primary grades or College students - the two age ranges you have worked with in the past. If you want to be a science teacher you are looking at Jr. High or High school :smiley:

Now, having said this, please do continue to consider becoming a teacher as we really do need good Christian men for the Jr. High and High school age students.

Brenda V.


#4

I am a teacher. I teach fifth grade in a public school in the city with the highest urban poverty rate in the US. I totally LOVE it. It is my tenth year. I adore my job, love my class of kids. I work really hard, 8 or more hours a day, sometimes more like 12 hours. I work weekends.

I cannot support my family on what I make, no way. And my district is unionized, so we have fairly high salaries. My husband is disabled, so it is a big problem for us.

Take some of those online vocational tests. That might help you think about what you might best like to do for a living. Maybe teaching CCD could fulfill your yen to teach while you make enough money to support your family.

The thing about you can’t stop thinking about it sounds like maybe somebody is trying to tell you something. You should try teaching a CCD class or even subbing in your area. Don’t jump in without teaching in a real school in a real classroom with a realistically sized class. Remember, tho, that your teaching courses will help you know how to do it much better than you will at this time


#5

This is very helpful insight, thank you! I am considering helping with CCD or, to aim towards the middle/high school level, perhaps youth group with a buddy of mine (the youth minister I mentioned.) Thats at a parish kind of far away, but not far from work. I may choose to do something within my own parish, which is obviously closer.

I know I definitely need to get my feet wet with this. Ill see what I can find :smiley:


#6

Indeed, you are right. I do know that sometimes the job can seem very unrewarding when student’s don’t listen, or some are more difficult to reach than others…etc. I suppose I won’t know until I try, and as some others here are saying: it would be good for me to get involved with a youth group or CCD or something to get my feet wet. I bet then I can better weigh the pros and cons :slight_smile: Thank you for the advice.


#7

I teach secondary school. I definitely recommend testing it out THOROUGHLY before you enter. Most people who decide to become teachers leave the preofession inside the first 5 years.

We all have very rosy ideas about helping out our students, but what we don’t always realize is how hard wewill often have to fight against the system to be able to do that, and how often we won’t be able to do anything. In the moments when I have questioned whether I should stay in this profession or not, the cause is very rarely the behavior of my students. It is usually the other adults and their decisions, even when I have worked at some of the most pleasant school sites available to me.

What keeps us in this profession is the small handful of students that we are able to help, and the learning experiences we ourselves have in the classroom.

It can be a stimulating and rewarding profession for those who are well-prepared for it. Take your time to make sure it is right for you.

Unless you live someplace where the cost of living is pretty low (Which eliminates nearly all of the West Coast states, and a few on the east coast) it is unlikely you will be able to support a family on your salary alone. You should be able to support yourself fairly respectably, though in the more expensive places home ownership might be a bit difficult.

As for credentialing options, I strongly recommend a graduate program at a university that gives you opportunities to student teach with a mentor. Support from other experienced educators is key early in one’s teaching career. Consider getting a master’s degree at some point as well.


#8

Here’s my advice as a retired teacher (I retired when I had children to be a SAHM).

Teaching is great! It’s very rewarding. It’s fun. Secondary is much better than middle school if you are more subject oriented.

You can live on it. The starting salary is lowish, but after a few years, it is just fine. You also can take a summer job. Most teachers do. My dad taught summer school. I know one guy who runs a painting business in the summers. I worked a bookstore during the summer in my teaching days.

However, the first year is hard, hard, hard. If you decide to teach, commit to two years before you make a decision to quit.

It is a lot easier to get a job in secondary ed if you coach. Consider coaching if at all possible!

I loved teaching. Teachers are naturally pessimistic and critical. It’s part of the culture–at least in my experience. I don’t know why.

Good luck.


#9

It sounds like you want to be a teacher for all the right reasons!

I have taught in many settings. Homeschooling was my favorite! But I also taught nine years, Art, in public school.

If you love learning and enjoy the puzzle of the learning process - especially as it applies to figuring out how people (or groups of people) tick in order to get info across and in order to trigger learning and understanding, then teaching is right for you!

It takes patience, which is a character trait that always has room to grow, and also skill, which you aquire the basics of in school, and really learn and keep on aquiring on the job.

And you will learn skills that will help you make a great parent!

With teaching you have a framework of discipline but within it you have leeway to live being the kind of teacher/person you want to be. Because you create your own world in the classroom. Sometimes that’s harder in other fields. And teaching is a lot less dog-eat-dog than other places. But of course you can be a beacon of light anywhere you are.


#10

I should also say at times it is very discouraging to your ideals. There are obstacles! “Forced Unionism” was frustrating to me. I did not want to align myself with the powerful NEA and what it stands for on many issues. Also, sometimes I felt overwhelmed with the ridiculous requirements, like art grades for Kindergartners! I felt sorry for the long day for the students. “Celebrations” with so little meaning, like, “Red Ribbon Week”. Lots of other things related to curriculumn were frustrating, also for me it was the volumes of students at times. And the red tape, endless meetings, and the meaningless of the many meetings with required attendance.

But overcoming these obsacles, learning to have the wisdom to recognize what it is that is beyond your ken to change and live in acceptance of it, and using all your creativity and determination to change things that you are able to change, are all part of the hard learning by experience that in the end make you feel really good about your teaching career when you are able to triumph in them.

Being able to stay focuse on the students and what is best for them (like your caring and attention) is sometimes a real challenge when so many other aspects of teaching pull at your time and attention. But it can be done and the rewards are great for doing so.


#11

I am in my tenth year of teaching and I absolutely love my job! I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love most in the world - bringing learning to life for children. :smiley:

Definitely look into working with young people in your parish and see how that goes. Any teacher licensing program worth its weight in beans will require you to prove you’ve had contact hours with young people. So your time working within your (or another) parish will be of value to you in more ways than one.

Do realize, however, that working with young people in a church setting is not at all the same as teaching a particular subject in your own classroom within a school system. There is very little comparison.

Education is one of the few fields where you really get to experience your career before you enter it. Any worthwhile program will require a large number of observation hours in a local school before you do your student teaching. And then you’ll see what it’s really, really like when you are actually student teaching.

Incidentally, I remember KNOWING that I had found my calling the first time I went to observe in an elementary music classroom. It was the proverbial “click.”

As for supporting a family - absolutely you can! And if you live a life filled with simple joys and pleasures, your future wife can be a SAHM as well. I am a single mom supporting my young son and myself without any child support from my ex. And I just bought an amazing house with a huge back yard and wonderful mountain views. (I do have a master’s degree.) Not bad for the Denver area!

Also, if you do decide to go for teaching, get the master’s degree at the same time you get your teaching license. It will save you loads of time and money, and your pay will start higher and go up faster. :thumbsup:

My prayers are with you. Enjoy the journey!


#12

My suggestion to the OP: teaching might be fun, but be prepared to do lots of paperwork and deal with a lot of red tape. I was an education major and did student teaching and had to do lots of paperwork, not including the actual preparing of tests and grading.


#13

I’m a speech therapist in the schools, and I love my job. I see lots of different kids every week (40-50), and work with some wonderful professionals. Being an SLP requires a Masters in Communication Disorders. There is also a HUGE job market for SLPs, in both the medical field and in schools, unlike in a regular teaching position. If you are at all interested in a specailty, pm me and I’ll talk to you some more.


#14

Teaching is a wonderful career, just be sure you have good mentors. Surround yourself with experienced teachers who will encourage and help you and if you have a mentor teacher who doesn’t support you, find another one. And if you have a master’s degree you can support a family on a teacher’s salary you just might have to go without a few luxuries. We live on less than my old salary, in the Pacific Northwest and we are doing just fine.
My advice is to spend some time in the kind of school and classroom you want to work in, and remember that you’re in it for the kids. Children these days come from all variety of undesirable situations and a lot of times there is a lot of pressure on teachers to make up for what the home is lacking. The profession is very rewarding, but it can be heartbreaking too.


#15

Be prepared for lots of feel good, “character building” stuff. My degree is in elem ed; I’ve homeschooled for 14 yrs. I now home teach 6 hrs/ week for the county. (kids who can’t attend school)

I went to a sub orientation this year and was disgusted. It was all about making kids feel good about themselves. They danced around actually saying to a child, “That answer is wrong.” They stressed saying things like, “That’s not the answer I’m looking for,” or, “That’s one answer, is there another?”. The all important thing was to make the kid feel successful. I doubt I’ll ever go back to a classroom.
—KCT


#16

As the wife of a teacher, I’d say, if you find this is your passion, go for it! :smiley:

You will probably have to go through student teaching, which will give you a decent idea whether or not you really like doing this (as well as teaching CCD) before you get into it, and if you decide after a couple years to go back to the career you have now, you can.

To give you some background: My husband is a high-school math teacher, teaching in a working-class city school right outside of Chicago. This is his first year out of college with 1 semester of full student teaching and 1.5 yrs of observation/teaching the occassional class. The following are the pros and cons I’ve seen/discussed with him:

PROs:
-summers and 2 wks for Christmas/New Year’s off, plus pretty much all national holidays - one of the reasons my husband chose this career is because it was so family-positive as far as the amount of time he’s able to spend with me (and our future children)

-constant interaction with people - I don’t get this at my work (I’m an accountant in an office) and I miss it. He does work with teens, so it’s not always positive interaction, but even with the teachers, he’s much closer with and I’m closer with them than my own co-workers.

-plenty of room for creativity - he plans lessons and teaches, so things are not the same ol’ same ol’ every single day

-helping others - He’s really into math. When he was in 5th grade, he was failing math and his teacher told his parents that he was basically a failure and would never learn. So, his parents pulled him out and his mom homeschooled him til high school. Now he has a degree in math and plans to get his masters and phD :). He has this passion and gift for teaching others esp. b/c he’s been there done that.

CONs:

-salary- this is a con b/c he could be making more using his degree in another field, but he makes enough definitely for us to live on, no problem (not including the excessive amt of loans we’ve accumulated through school) so it is a pro too.

-bringing work home - he does have to do this occassionally, esp. when he gives tests in more than one class. I usually help him grade papers, so it’s not bad, but he doesn’t really like this at all.

-frustration- esp. b/c he’s in a school where most of the kids graduate and don’t seek higher education (we’re talking not even a vocational school or anything…they go to McDonald’s), they really don’t care most of the time. Plus, majority of the classes he teaches are lower level - algebra is split into two years and half these kids are seniors, just passing enough to graduate.It’s not hard for him to feel like a failure, but when parent-teacher conferences came around, a lot of parents said that his class was the only one their child wasn’t failing. :slight_smile:

-not just teaching classes- this isn’t true for my husband, but I know in many schools, they make you commit to other roles than just a teacher such as cafeteria duty, coaching, detention watcher, etc.

However, I definitely believe it’s worth looking into. We need more teachers who are passionate about what they teach as well as having a love for the students. It’s easy to get burnt out esp. in the beginning, but overall, it’s very rewarding and I can see it on my husband’s face. :slight_smile:


#17

Thank you all so much for your insights and experiences. Lotusblossom, especially thank you to you for providing a nice list of pros and cons that give me things to think about.

Regarding that, here are some thoughts that came to mind:

I definitely want a career that is family-positive. I see some of the higher-ups in my office, and even those project managers who I could someday be a part of, and I see the ridiculous hours they put in here…sometimes 6am till after dinner time. Its not the extra hours that I so much mind (I’ve put in plenty of ten hour days myself), but I figure bringing work home (a la a teacher) and being among family would be far more enjoyable for me than holed up in an office for an extended period of time and coming home to a family who is already asleep (and probably was still asleep when I left the house in the morning.) I very much want to be a family-man, even if that means having a career that isn’t as lucritive as a cushy office job.

I do love the personal interaction that teaching seems to bring. When I was an RA at school, and when I was a teaching assisant for some classes in college, I really enjoyed that constant interaction. The interaction I receive now is always in passing in the hallways, or to my cube mate, or to others via email. That isn’t exactly super-enriching.

And related to the above thought, I have a deep passion for the Earth, the earth and geographical sciences, and the idea of teaching such subjects excites me. It sounds satisfiying to me. I also know that such subjects are lacking in teachers…one local high school considers it a critical-needs subject area. I’d love to jump into that subject area!

I’d like to comment on the income issue. I, of course, wouldn’t mind living comfortably. But, my level of comfort is, I think, lower than many others’, especially those in this office environment. Growing up, my family went from apartment (when I was born) to condo, to townhouse , to single family home. I remember starting off in those smaller living spaces and it was OK :slight_smile: . I don’t need glamour… I lived in a dorm room for 4 years, where it served as a kitchen, a study area, and a bedroom all in one :stuck_out_tongue: Anything above that sounds golden to me! Now, I may change my tune later in life, but the idea of starting out married in a condo/apartment sounds just fine to me. Its true, I don’t know what kind of income it would take to afford that (I’d prefer to buy rather than rent), but here are some numbers: In the last year, I’ve saved 22k by living at home while working. I don’t think I’d even move out until another year or so, so that I can be rent-free and continue to save. My goal is to have about 40k saved by this time next year. That’s approaching a decent downpayment on a condo in this area. Now, I make 41k/year. starting salary for teachers in the county I live in is something like 43 or 44k. So, switching careers wouldn’t even result in a paycut, but rather I’d basically be at the same income level. That sounds ok to me! And someday when I have a wife, then I can revisit the income issue depending on what her career might be, because its a whole different equation when someone else joins the picture :smiley:

I suppose I simply want to be confident that a teaching career can equal a liveable life. So many equate teaching with living poorly, when it doesn’t seem that way at all. I think it just boils down to lifestyle and tastes (home vs condo, for example). I don’t want to be scared off from pursuing this. I think I’d rather do something I enjoy rather than be bored at an office job that brings in a bit more income…I think the idea of “humble beginnings” is an attractive one. I might have to retain my 7 year old car as long as I can, and I might have to accept hand-me-downs of furniture and such. but thats all OK with me :thumbsup:

(continued in next post)


#18

One more think I’d like to mention. There is a lot of talk about masters degrees and certifications and observing, etc. In looking into this teaching option, I may be eligible for a “fast track” because the subject area I’m interested in is considered a “critical needs” area. Simply put, I have to a) have a bachelors degreem b) have 5 years of full time work experience, and 3) have to pass the proficiency tests for ceritifcation. I have my degree, the tests would be simply something to study hard for, and I have about a total of 5 years full time work experience. On paper, I’d almost be good to go. For my own benefit though, I would like to observe some classes, participate in religious ed at my church to gain some “classroom” experience, and continue talking to former teachers. I don’t have my masters but I would like to pursue further studies, perhaps along the way? I guess the idea of the “Fast track” is appealing to me because I kinda don’t want to be in this office environment forever. But then again, I guess I am lucky to have this job in the first place, right after graduating and all…

in a nutshell, i think its something i really want to pursue, dont want to be scared of doing so, and just need to look at all angles of this idea. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback and opinions regarding my original post. You all rock :thumbsup: :cool: Please pray for me :slight_smile:


#19

You sound like you have your head on straight and are aware of both sides of the track. As you said, the income appears to be equal to what you are working now, so it wouldn’t be too much of a change.

I always said that I would not marry a teacher (my dad is an engineer/chemist with his master’s degree, so he’s always been on the upper-end of income) because they made squat and I wanted a big family. However, when I met my husband, I knew we could make it work. Besides, he’s in high demand, being a math teacher and a male, so employment and being able to find a job with a higher-end of the teaching income is much easier for him. I do make more than him right now, but I plan to quit this job once the baby comes. In fact, we’re looking to move which would mean a serious pay-cut in the beginning so we can find an area not so close to the city and a less expensive area to live as well as close to a university where he could easily continue his studies.

Many schools will pay for your education, should you pursue a master’s degree, especially if they are inner-city. That’s also something to consider. :slight_smile:


#20

Hi darthsmozers,

I read your post above, and such is God’s call and will for you.

Not many people know what they want in life. God gives many good things for us. But He also gives us desires and passion so that we know what to choose. And His guidance does not say “store up for tomorrow”. Instead His guidance is humility and passionate desire to serve in confidence (of Him, not of self).

Many of us was so confused (me included), that we made choices for worldly reasons.

The sooner we know God’s call, the better. It takes us honesty, humility, and confidence in Him who provides.

We can serve better when we know God’s call, we serve according to His will (for “me”). Otherwise we will make choices based on our own strength (worldly reasons, “fearful/ worrisome” ones), we are left out to serve according to our own strength (just as the reasons why we make the choice).

Bottom line, if you know it is something good from God, and you want it, then thank God for the opportunity, ask for His blessings, and go ahead.

God bless you and be with you darth.


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