So I just finished my 18th year in the classroom, and if I can find myself an interim career to get me to 65, I have 12 more years to go. I think I have it in me, but it depends on what time of year you ask me.
Teachers, do you see yourselves riding this career to the finish line, or will you bail out before then for something different? Especially want to hear from new teachers.
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Well, Brett, I certainly hope I am not teaching in a public school classroom until I am 65. I LOVE the aspect of teaching English to a classroom of interested students, but all of the other aspects--constant disciplinary problems, weak administrators, uncaring parents, unmotivated students, mounting paperwork--will probably make me retire before then. And I didn't even mention the incredibly low pay (or the governor who continues to slice salaries and budgets) here in Florida.
I came into the game late...after having had two previous careers. I am entering my 9th year in education and this will most probably be my last. I am exhausted for manyof the reasons that bullgatortail mentioned above.
The perception is that teaching is an 8-4 job with summers off. In reality...it is a 24/7 job with low pay that gets very little recognition, and all the blame when students perform poorly.
According to the Washington Post ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/08/AR2006050801344.html) of all teachers quit within the first 5 years of teaching. We who have made it longer than that are real warriors! :)
Why do you need a bridge to 65, Brett? Are you actually expecting there to be any Social Security left by then?
I've been lucky enough to break my career up -- teaching high school, teaching community college, not teaching right now... So I'm hoping that I'll be able to get back into it soonish (we'll see what works with the family situation) and stay in until retirement age. I think I'm luckier than a lot of people because I've been in a district that's so small that there's little bureaucracy and paperwork and overbearing administrators. I think what will be hardest for me (and I've felt this at the high school and the college level) is continuing to deal with dumbing down my curriculum. I know my courses aren't as hard as they should be, but I don't know what to do about it. I don't feel like I can fail 1/2 to 3/4 of the kids, but I hate that my classes are so (to me) much easier than they should be...
I became a teacher when I turned 24, but I had taught before that right out of college. To be completely honest with you, the reason why I have chosen to remain in this career until I turn 65 is because I work for the Department of Defense Schools, which gives me several options for location.
This being said, when I worked for the public school system in PR, and then in WA state, I felt so helpless that I vowed never to be a teacher forever. I had everything come my way, from furlough days to kids wearing tracking devices and case workers out the cahoot.
Yet, even in those days I had the benefit of having a Masters in ESL and that allowed me to teach in universities part-time.
Now, that is another discussion topic: Did I want to remain in Academe. No. Never. I think that Academe can break you as a professional and it is a lottery to end up in the right college.
I'm another oldster, as my 26th year will be starting in two weeks. For me teaching has had more rewards than frustrations, but in the current economy I am looking at probably having a working retirement. A couple of years ago I enrolled in graduate school for the second time, got a graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning, and am now working on a Master's degree in same. I'm hoping it will allow me to work part time after I retire and still be able to escape part of the winter to a kinder climate.
Way too many of the younger teachers are looking to bail out and try something else; sadly it seems to be the ones with the most potential who move on. I agree with 4, it's a 24/7 job. I think those who embrace teaching as a lifestyle rather than a job are the ones who will be most able to stick it out.
The public school system has become so encumbered that it is an unwieldy thing to carry around in a teacher's attache case. In addition, learning and teaching theory have so departed (for better or worse) from tradition that approaches are almost a la carte, which may be yummy but takes considerable thought and flexibility. On top of that, the cultural dissonance is so astoundingly loud that peace, order, and goal-centeredness have flown out the window with the lark for peace and quiet elsewhere! A private school does seem a tasty alternative to all these mixed metaphors.
This is a tough one to respond to, and as I have quite a few more years left to serve until I reach the finishing line, I am not sure how to respond. Like you, I have different ideas depending on what day it is and how well or not my teaching is going. In my experience as a teacher so far, teaching seems to be one of those rollercoaster careers, where things are either going wonderfully and you think teaching is the best career ever, or you think it is akin to masochistic punishment and you want to leave it and get a "normal" job as soon as possible. To be honest, I do love teaching, but don't see myself staying in the same role for the rest of my life. I would like to always be doing some kind of teaching somewhere, however.
I retired from full-time classroom teaching at the end of the last school year after many years in the classroom in two separate careers, with a 15 year stretch of working outside education in the middle of that time. My retirement was partly in response to needing to be more available to care for my ill father and partly in response to the frustrations of working with disrespectful, mouthy, unmotivated middle school students. Because I was in the fortunate position of being able to go other directions (eNotes editor, anyone?), I chose to retire at that time.
This was a disappointment - I LOVED getting back into education after my time away and had expected to teach for longer than I did. However, I found that kids had changed a lot during my time away, parents and their attitudes had also evolved in ways I didn't consider supportive of education, and administrators provided lukewarm support at best.
I also find it concerning that the original request was hoping to hear from new teachers, but the responses are overwhelmingly from experienced, for the most part frustrated, teachers. What does that say about the state of the profession?
Good luck to all of you in your classrooms as this year starts! I hope you're able to find some of the joy that brought you to that place...
This is my second year...I plan on being here until they force me out of the classroom. I love my job, love my students, and love the material I teach. How many people, outside of education, can really say that? Bury me with my books and podium!!
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