NBR: How did you decide to be a teacher? — The Bump
April 2014 Moms

NBR: How did you decide to be a teacher?

So I have been thinking that I want to change my career.  Currently, I work for the government and have pretty close to zero job satisfaction.  Growing up, I always, always wanted to be an elementary school teacher but when I got to college and started the classes, I decided it just wasn't for me.  I majored in Psychology instead and am currently doing nothing with that degree ;)  Anyway, while I was furloughed, I sat in on my friends 2nd grade class.  It was very interesting and I enjoyed it but the room was hot and I wasn't drinking as much water as I usually do so I went home with a splitting headache.  So I'm still confused on whether or not this is something I should pursue.  Will I be going home everyday with a splitting headache regardless of the temperature of the room?  It's definitely fear of the unknown that is keeping me from diving in so I thought you guys might be able to shed some light on that! 

 

What is the good/bad/the ugly that you wish you would have known before becoming a teacher?

Re: NBR: How did you decide to be a teacher?

  • My husband is in the process of becoming a teacher. He's always worked with kids (mostly in sports/recreation programs), and decided that he wanted to teach, so he went back to school to get Masters in Education. He's almost done!

    Have you considered maybe trying to substitute teach for a semester and see how you like it? Some people get in front of a classroom and realize that it't not for them. For my husband, subbing this semester has really reaffirmed his decision to go into teaching. He loves it, and is really good at it (he's gotten a lot of really positive feedback from other teachers and principals).  

    If subbing isn't an option, then maybe see if you can spend more time in your friend's classroom, or in other classrooms in her school (other grades maybe).  You might even be able to teach a couple of lesson plans. If nothing else, most teachers appreciate an extra set of hands in the classroom, so you probably wouldn't be in the way.
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  • Depending on where you live it can be VERY difficult to get a full time teaching job that will be there year after year. We have lots of new teachers in the district I work in who are hired for one year positions, then get excessed at the end of each year, only to start over. On Long Island, it seems to be very difficult as well, with many teachers "paying their dues" in undesirable areas.

    Teaching is not just an 8AM-2PM job for 9 months a year. There is always lesson planning, papers to grade, continuing education and technology training, and children to worry about. Classroom management is also a HUGE part of teaching that seems to be lost in the education degree programs.

    I'm a school SLP, so some aspects of my career are like teachers and some are very different. I love working with the kids, but a lot of the red tape annoys me. I also have the opportunity to work in the medical field with my degree, which I do part-time. I can share more information with you of that is something you are interested in as well.


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  • @speechie517 what is a school SLP?
  • Wow, such a strange coincidence that you posted this. I am a senior in college and should be graduating in the summer with a psychology degree. It sucks that you are forced to choose what you want to do at 18 because I am now fairly confident that I want to go into elementary education. Good money spent on that psych degree huh? It's good to hear feedback from someone else who majored in psychology! I'm not a huge fan of the idea of a government desk job!
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  • I burnt myself out on teaching and will be done, possibly forever, at Christmas.

    It's a lot of work with no reward and more paperwork than you would think.
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  • I am currently a nurse, and started back to school last year for elementary education. I love working with the kids - I just want some healthy ones and I think I would love teaching!

    However, school is sooo freakin' expensive and i'm not willing to go into debt for a career that people can't seem to find jobs in. I was talking with a guy at a mutual friends party the other day who is a teacher and can barely afford to support his family off his and his wife's income. Plus, he works incredibly long hours for no extra pay  and little appreciation.

    I don't think having a job you love is about money in the least. But, I also think money has to factor into it a little when you are making a decision to put out a lot of money for a career that you won't be able to support your family off of.  And for me, that was the point at which I stopped taking courses. I have a good job, I make good money, my hours are fairly flexible and I could support myself and my family if I needed to. I can't risk losing that to change into a career with little pay, little growth, and multiple layoffs year after year :(


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  • Before I give my advice as a teacher, I would like to know where you are from, and if you are willing to relocate? It is incredibly difficult to find a teaching job in certain areas and the entire framework of education is changing so with some more information, I can give you some insight.
    babybarnes87patunia7321
  • I grew up wanting to be something else. When life and choices had me going in a different direction, I didn't know why I wanted to do. I started volunteering with the youth group at our church and loved working with high school students. Turns out I was a really good teacher. So that's what I started perusing.

    I say to anyone considering a job in teaching that it is not a fall back career. You have to really love it or you will hate your life. Grading and lesson planning alone will eat all of your free time for the first five years, so you have to live what you do and feel like its worth it.

    Qualifications for being a good teacher (in my mind):
    -Love whatever age group you choose to work with.
    -Really believe that what you do will make a difference in your student's lives.
    -Be able to toe the line and be consistent
    -Be flexible
    -Be an extrovert, or someone who's able to fake it really well. (Unlike desk jobs, teachers are always 'on.' If your energy is down you'll loose your kids. It's a lot like being on stage, someone us always watching you.)

    Hope that helps!
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  • As a HS teacher who subbed in college....subbing SUCKS and is nothing like actually teaching. I chose it because I love to help kiddos find knowledge and create!
  • @aphilcox I'm about thirty miles outside of DC in northern VA.  Relocation is probably not an option as my husband's job is here and we live about ten minutes away from both his parents and mine.
  • JessSSuttonJessSSutton member
    edited October 2013
    I am currently finishing my masters in teaching, secondary education. I am liscenced to teach government/political science, u.s. history, and world history. I can tell you from my student teaching and field experience that teaching is a lot of work for not a ton of money. In my area and where I am moving in tx teachers w/masters degrees start at about $50,000 a year but both have very low cost of living so that is not really too bad. Despite how many of the older teachers feel, most of the teachers I have talked to rspecially those who are younger/newer to the field say it is a lot of work but that they love it. I tend to attribute the newer teachers attitude due to the fact that they never experienced the way "teaching used to be" for example I am 25 and grew up taking standardized tests so I don't really know any other way.

    For me you should really examine why you want to go into teaching because if it has anything to do with summers "off" or "good hours" you are going to be very disappointed. As cliche as it may sound you have to be in it because you want to make a difference. My current cooperating teacher for my masters project is an incredible young teacher/coach and he works very hard. He never complians about the work he does especially because he also coaches football and baseball, but he is very dedicated (actually just finished his Ed.s) and really love his job.

    The most inspiring thing a woman who I worked with at a middle school who had been teaching 30 years told me was: "I tell myself that if I can have a positive impact on just one kid a year, over time that's been 30 people, and if each one of those people positively impacts one other person, that's almost 1000 people! Don't get discouraged, we need good teachers..." I will never forget that.

    Sorry so long and a few years from now after I've been teaching a few years I might be eating my words and scream "DON'T DO IT!"
    [Deleted User]BiggerinRealLife
  • jobabyyy said:
    As a HS teacher who subbed in college....subbing SUCKS and is nothing like actually teaching. I chose it because I love to help kiddos find knowledge and create!
    Huh.  My husband loves subbing for elementary.  Sure, it's not exactly like being a teacher -- he doesn't have to come up with lesson plans or do all of the grading (he does do some).  He took a 4th grade class through the entire first two weeks of school.  And the teacher didn't leave any lesson plans (she was unexpectedly hospitalized, but is okay now).   He was a little apprehensive about whether or not he would feel comfortable standing in front of a classroom of kids, whether he'd be able to keep their attention, or get through to them, or manage the classroom in a way that would enable him to actually teach them anything.  It turns out he really loves it.  Personally, I don't think I could do it (even though I also have a Masters in Education...the thought of standing in front of a classroom full of 9-year olds terrifies me).     
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  • I would say make sure it's something you REALLY want to do before going into it. Like PPs have said, the job market for teachers is terrible in many parts of the country, and it costs a lot of money to go back to school for a job that doesn't pay much. All that said, it's very rewarding but it's very possible you could go home with a headache everyday. ;) kids can be frustrating, you will have good classes and bad classes, good years and bad...there are a lot of ups and down. I also agree with PPs that teaching was more fun before NCLB and common core. I avoid NCLB crap by teaching at a private school (which pays less and has no benefits) but I still have to follow common core, which has good parts and bad parts but overall I'm not the biggest fan.

    If subbing is an option for you, you might wanna try that first (although many states require a teaching license to sub so it might not be an option) so maybe you could volunteer at a school to see if it's something you would really enjoy. I'm not trying to paint a bad picture of teaching because I love it and don't want to do anything else, but it's not the 8am to 3pm job with summers off that everyone thinks it is. Those are DEFINITELY perks, but you are almost never done with work when you leave work, and summers, although relaxing, are spent preparing for the year ahead. I'm all for finding a career that's fulfilling though, so if you know teaching is in your heart then I think you should go for it. :)
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    JessSSutton
  • Yikes! I remember how substitute teachers were treated by students when I was in school...I imagine it's only gotten worse! 


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  • I teach Kindergarten and love it. However, the pay sucks & it is non stop meetings and paperwork and testing. It's definitely not what I thought it would be. I still love it, but there are definitely days where I already feel burnt out and this is only my 3rd year. Oh, and the temperature is always super hot or super cold in my classroom and frequently I go many hours without using the bathroom. I pee when I wake up in the morning and there have been many days
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  • that I don't pee again till the kids leave or get home again cuz I get so busy I basially forget to take care of myself. Teaching is rewarding, but it is tough.
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  • speechie517speechie517 member
    edited October 2013

    acrookston: a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist.

     

    @lindsay808: My undergrad degree was actually in Psychology. I minored in Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences, then went to grad school for speech-language pathology.


  • babym6705 said:

    that I don't pee again till the kids leave or get home again cuz I get so busy I basially forget to take care of myself. Teaching is rewarding, but it is tough.

    Totally agree. I taught elem school for 10 years before becoming a stay at home mom. If you're working for a public school, remember that you're still working for the gov't. The same beurocratic system applies. I also became very frustrated by the endless paperwork and focus on testing, to the point where I no longer felt I could effectively do my job. You do have a lot of options near D.C. -- I taught at an independent school in Alexandria where I had a bit more flexibility (although the parents were a nightmare)! And yes, you never have time to pee!!!
    babybarnes87
  • This is my fourth year teaching. Being a teacher in NC is super hard right now. We are either #49 or last in teacher pay now. There have been no raises for teachers in 7 years. They just recently got rid of master's pay. It is pathetic how disrespected teachers are in this state.

    That being said, I do love actually teaching and working with my fourth graders. It's all the extra duties and responsibilities and meetings that drive me crazy. It is not worth it to me to go back after my baby is born. I will be a SAHM for awhile and am almost certain I will not return to teaching in the classroom. In the future, I hope to still work in education somehow, but I can't imagine being a classroom teacher and balancing a family at the same time. I know plenty of women who do it, and I have so much respect for them, but I don't think that's for me.

    I hope you live in a state where teachers are paid a decent salary and are respected by your state leaders. Best of luck!
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  • As PP have said, make sure you're in it because you love kids and learning and are passionate about making a difference. Despite moving to a state where education gets no respect, I still really love teaching and can't imagine anything else. I'm in my 6th year, so I've learned how to work efficiently so I don't get burned out, though sometimes it is so hard. I am looking forward to some time off when the baby comes, but then will be happy to go back
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  • Okay, as far as I know, DC and VA are good places to teach. If you love to teach and think it is a passion of yours, then go for it. The best thing anyone can do for themselves in life is to enjoy life....and one main factor in that is loving your job. I will be honest, like any job, there are pitfalls, but that is only because of the way the country si changing their view about education and teachers spend a lot more time doing paper work and nonsense rather than spending time on the kids. This is agony for those of us who are solely in it for the kids. I think some states of lost sight of that. But, if you can separate yourself from all of the political garbage going on, the new standards, and the people who complain, then you will be fine. Just show up to work, do what you love, and most importantly, whatever you do, do it for the kids.

    Like I said, double check to make sure there are jobs in your area before you spend a lot of money to go back to school. NY has 16000 unemployed teachers, so if you lived in the northeast I would suggest waiting, but it sounds like this can all work out for you :). If you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I have two cousins who teach in VA who are wonderful and know a lot about what goes on down there. Good luck and follow your dreams!
    babybarnes87[Deleted User]acrookston
  • Oh, and lastly, like some people have mentioned, be prepared to try subbing first. Most people don't get hired unless they are a sub first and subbing tends to jade people and deter them from the profession. So make sure you are willing to put up with that for an undefined amount of time.
  • The way teaching is now i would not get into it. This is my 6th year teaching middle school and after the baby is born I won't be going back. I am in Ohio and the endless paperwork, testing and non-sense is too much for me to handle anymore. I love teaching, but I don't teach. I test kids, analyze data, do test review/prep, test some more and etc. I work at least 12+ hours have 160 kids, teach two grade levels of science and have zero budget for supplies. So far I have sent $500 of my own money in supplies this year already. Teaching is so different from even my first year. I used to love it but I am so burnt out I can barely get out of bed each day. It's disappointing because I love the kids and helping them learn, but so little of my time is actually doing this. We have 5 different testing systems each year and 4 of them are used 3-4 times each. So basically about every 2-3 weeks is a testing week. I have meetings every morning from 6:50-7:20, classes, 30 minute lunch, classes and a plan time that is almost always reserved for more meetings, extra help for struggling students or other stuff. Then I stay for about 4+ extra hours each day to keep up. Sorry for the long rant and negativity, but the reality is you won't just be shaping young minds, you will be answering to the government.
    steph1977Tallawah13acrookston
  • I love teaching, but I feel like it's not about the kids sometimes. My school puts so much on us everyday! Lots of micromanaging! I just want to teach my kids. They have BIG expectations for us and the kids and what they don't realize is that there is just not enough time in the day o do what they expect and get in all the paper work, assessing, etc. If I have to hear the word common core again, I may explode. I guess I better prepare since I hear it every day. I have also been out of the classroom so much the past few weeks in meetings. It isn't beneficial to my kids if I am out all the time. I am expected to have them reading by Christmas! Well, I need to be in the classroom in order to do that!

    Ok, sorry! Over my rant. I really think you need to do a long term sub position where you have to do the plans, paper work, grades, etc. Subbing is actually easy since you don't have to do any of the planning, grades, etc.

    Good luck! I hope I didn't totally turn you off from it. I do love my kids and love to see their little light bulbs turn on, but that other crap is what makes me not like it.

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  • Wanted to add that I don't necessarily agree that teachers are paid poorly. Keep in mind my only experience is in California though. From what I've experienced as a teacher and a HR district employee, teachers are paid well. We just aren't paid for all the extra work that is required in order to do the job well. There aren't enough prep hours to do the job, and I've never known a teacher that doesn't have more homework than their students, and no one is compensated for the overtime. We only work 10 months a year, but we do a years' work in that time. That makes those 10 months crazy. If it were spread out over 12 months, the pay would seem more reasonable, because the workload wouldn't be as insane.
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  • @mborn24: Where in WV are you? I'm in Charleston, but have worked in OH and NY schools and am sometimes shocked with how things are run, how staff is treated, and the levels of poverty and drug use here. I'm hopefully out next year after my fifth year (when I'm eligible to get my student loans reduced.)

  • Wanted to add that I don't necessarily agree that teachers are paid poorly. Keep in mind my only experience is in California though. From what I've experienced as a teacher and a HR district employee, teachers are paid well. We just aren't paid for all the extra work that is required in order to do the job well. There aren't enough prep hours to do the job, and I've never known a teacher that doesn't have more homework than their students, and no one is compensated for the overtime. We only work 10 months a year, but we do a years' work in that time. That makes those 10 months crazy. If it were spread out over 12 months, the pay would seem more reasonable, because the workload wouldn't be as insane.
    I got married this past summer, but when I got my teaching job last year I had to move in with my fiance (even though I didn't really want to live together before marriage for religious reasons) because they didn't pay me enough to live off of to live alone. :( That's awesome that California pays you guys more, though! I mean, I probably could have survived, but I would have had NO savings whatsoever for the wedding or otherwise.
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  • I am in my 8th year of teaching. I've taught 4th, 2nd, 1st, and am now a reading specialist working with Kdg & first. I really love my job. I love teaching, I love the kids. It's definitely what I was meant to do. Where I live the pay/benefits vs. cost of living is reasonable and it is considered a decent job.

    There is a ton of nonsense to deal with, the testing culture, NCLB, common core, but all of those things come and go and I know I'll see quite a few more pendulum swings during my career. Good teaching is good teaching regardless of those swings. 

    I agree that subbing/observing/volunteering or anything else that gets you classroom experience is the way to go to help you make a decision. I feel like taking classes to get a degree is the least helpful part of teacher education, but that's how it works. Experience is everything. As a po mentioned, classroom management is definitely one of the most important things to master and it gets very little attention in teacher preparation classes. 

    I had a friend living and teaching in the D.C/VA area and she loved it. If you can't relocate definitely make sure there will be a market for teachers in your area when you get your certification. Where I live, there will not be a huge amount of teaching jobs available for the next 20 years or so and it's pretty (sadly) political when it comes to hiring. 

    Ps- Useless Psych B.A. holder as well. (It went along with the elem. Ed. At the time)

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    acrookston
  • I've wanted to be a music teacher since 4th grade. I've been teaching 6 years and I love every second of it. Try substituting first before you make any choices about starting a degree or anything. I went to college with soooo many people who were convinced they wanted to be teachers, but didn't find out until student teaching our senior year that they hated it and wasted 4 yrs of their life getting a degree they wouldn't use. I also have to tell you that I've got laid off for 4 years straight being the new hire and that was very stressful.

    In my experience:
    - the students are what make it rewarding
    -if you find it's your passion you won't regret a second of it
    -unlike when we were kids, teachers are being forced to teach to the test because of the new testing practices (you can still have fun and creative lessons, but there's less time for it)
    -you will find yourself responsible for teaching kids how to be kind and respectful because some of them don't get it at home
    -Money/pay can't be important to you. You'll put in a lot of hours outside the work day that you don't get paid for or recognized for (I've been putting in 50+ hrs since the beginning of the school year) and you'll never get the money for your classroom that you need and will end up putting some of your pay back into your room.
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    acrookston
  • hordol said:
    Wanted to add that I don't necessarily agree that teachers are paid poorly. Keep in mind my only experience is in California though. From what I've experienced as a teacher and a HR district employee, teachers are paid well. We just aren't paid for all the extra work that is required in order to do the job well. There aren't enough prep hours to do the job, and I've never known a teacher that doesn't have more homework than their students, and no one is compensated for the overtime. We only work 10 months a year, but we do a years' work in that time. That makes those 10 months crazy. If it were spread out over 12 months, the pay would seem more reasonable, because the workload wouldn't be as insane.
    I got married this past summer, but when I got my teaching job last year I had to move in with my fiance (even though I didn't really want to live together before marriage for religious reasons) because they didn't pay me enough to live off of to live alone. :( That's awesome that California pays you guys more, though! I mean, I probably could have survived, but I would have had NO savings whatsoever for the wedding or otherwise.
    A lot of it depends on where you are.  I've taught in AK where starting teacher salaries are well over 40K with step increases each year and in South Carolina where starting teacher salaries are under 30K and they haven't paid step increased in several years.

    I'm also in an odd position where I will constantly (no matter how many years I teach) be at the bottom of the pay scale.  We move every three years and most districts will only allow you to transfer 1-3 years for pay scale purposes.  That made it completely not worth it for me to continue teaching.
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  • Wanted to add that I don't necessarily agree that teachers are paid poorly. Keep in mind my only experience is in California though. From what I've experienced as a teacher and a HR district employee, teachers are paid well. We just aren't paid for all the extra work that is required in order to do the job well. There aren't enough prep hours to do the job, and I've never known a teacher that doesn't have more homework than their students, and no one is compensated for the overtime. We only work 10 months a year, but we do a years' work in that time. That makes those 10 months crazy. If it were spread out over 12 months, the pay would seem more reasonable, because the workload wouldn't be as insane.

    I have to respectfully disagree. I am not sure what your pay/cost of living is in CA but I am working in the highest "teacher salary" county in Maryland & teachers with a BA only make in the low $40k's a year. Due to cost of living in this county, I am not finacially independent. I am finacially dependent on my husband. I love teaching kids, but if I could go back to school I would have picked a major where I could finacially support myself and children without depending on my husband. Again, I love teaching and feel like I would be bored in another field, but at this point I would rather be bored during the work week than not be finacially independent. Maybe I need to move to CA, lol.

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  • For those with psychology degrees, look into being a school psychologist. Not sure if they have those everywhere, but we do here in anchorage.

    I would say that becoming a teacher is totally dependent on where you live. There are so many factors that can effect job satisfaction and they are completely dependant on where you live. Some place would be wonderful to teach in and some you couldn't pay me to transfer to...and these factors have nothing to do with children.

    I work in a title one school that's extremely diverse and I absolutely love it. However, the changes coming to Alaska with our standardized testing and our governor has made 50% our evaluation based on student progress. Working in an at-risk area now scares me, I'm constantly worried about progress not being reflected in tests. Not sure what the future holds for me.
    acrookston
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