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What EXACTLY is what keeps you doing your job?I have vowed to retire since my second...

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 24, 2011 at 2:32 AM via web

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What EXACTLY is what keeps you doing your job?

I have vowed to retire since my second year of teaching, and 14 years later I am still wondering why I never changed careers. The more I complain, the more I remain. Then it hit me that, perhaps, I draw a lot of pleasure out of complaining---and out of teaching!!!

I guess I am still teaching because no two years are the same. I do request a change in grade level every 3 years because if not I will go insane. However, it is so exciting to get a new group of kids! I still get a kick out of getting the back to school sales and buying the 40 packs of crayons when they go for 20 cents a pack.

Ever year I change the "look" of my classroom and I theme it. I guess this flexibility and the fact that I can be as creative as I can be is EXACTLY what keeps me doing my job.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 2:42 AM (Answer #2)

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Loving what you do should always be the primary factor in maintaining a job. As a teacher, it's tough to love every aspect of the profession, but my love of kids and literature are enough to keep me going.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 24, 2011 at 3:11 AM (Answer #3)

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A lot of people say that teachers do it because they can't do anything else or because of June, July, and August. I do love being able to do EVERYTHING else in June, July, and August because it gets me so new and rejuvinated for a brand new experience every year with new kids. Being a teacher means I am always in relationship with people and part of a huge community. It means I get to be loved more than other people in other jobs. Teachers are not paid the best, but I live a comfortable life and can raise my own children exactly how I want to.

Other jobs get mundane. Mine is always changing.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 24, 2011 at 3:21 AM (Answer #4)

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I hate to sound cliche, but I really love teaching. The "a-ha" moments when reading, the listening to excuses and getting the student to laugh at the ridiculousness of it... everything. But, I am a new teacher, so the honeymoon is not really over for me yet (2nd year of having my own classroom). Honestly, I never want it to.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 24, 2011 at 4:04 AM (Answer #5)

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I don't like complaining, but I feel I am in a very difficult position with no good alternatives. Because of choices I made a dozen years ago, I now have very few alternatives, if any.

I just listened to a podcast about how people with bachelor's degrees comprise 30% of the population, and those with MAs or higher far fewer than that, something like 9%.

Well, I hold a MA and am ABD PhD. I am making LESS MONEY now than I did as an office manager 10 years ago.

I truly wish I had stopped at a BA and gotten a teaching certificate. But I wanted to teach at a college level, so I pursued graduate degrees. Well, as a humanities prof, I have not been able to find a full-time job. Therefore, I am working at two different community colleges (something I once thought beneath me). I teach six classes, more than a full load if I had a full-time job. I have to teach all summer, too, because as an adjunct, no work no pay. Still, it is not enough, so I am working a third contract job. I barely make ends meet. Sometimes they do not meet. I do not have any benefits at all. No vacation, no healthcare, nothing.

I am also a single mother and have a child who has autism. I stay because I do not know what else to do. My office skills are now antiquated. I can say that I do enjoy teaching, but rarely do I get to do what I spent 8 yrs learning to do: teach literature. Instead, I most often get composition classes.

Lest you think I was just an average student and therefore did not hold much promise, I should say that I graduated Suma Cum Laude, both as a BA and MA.

Oh, and let's not forget the mountains of student loans that I have.

Anybody got any ideas for a hardworking, intelligent, multi-degree holder, let me know.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 4:45 AM (Answer #6)

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I teach because of my students.  I enjoy the challenge of planning meaningful activities to stretch their brains and i love helping a kid finally "get" it.  It's not always easy.  No, that's wrong.  It's never easy.  But I can't stay away because I know that what I do makes an impact on them.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 5:24 AM (Answer #7)

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Like Jamie Wheeler, I thought I wanted to be a college prof.  For me, I realized that I could never be happy doing research and writing essentially another dissertation every couple of years (one was MORE than enough...)  I wanted to teach but I found that teaching was not what was wanted in academia...

Anyway, I hope that I teach because I enjoy the students.  I hope that I also teach because I like the intellectual challenge of figuring out what, exactly, I want to teach the students and how to get that across to them in a way that is as interesting as possible.

I fear that I keep teaching because I don't know what else I would do.  I'm not sure what else I'm qualified for and I certainly don't know what else would be as interesting and pay as well (and no, I'm not being sarcastic).

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 5:26 AM (Answer #8)

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I teach because I love to read and I love to talk about books.  Where else can I have a chance to spend my time doing what I like while getting paid?  I enjoy watching students grow as readers and become true adults by the end of their senior year.  The paper grading is a huge grind and is getting worse each year as class sizes grow in my school, but I still can't think of anything that would be as satisfying or rewarding as a great discussion on Hamlet.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 24, 2011 at 5:43 AM (Answer #9)

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Since starting to work here at eNotes, I keep working because I can use the only three skills I have: analysis, language use, and being what Tipping Point calls a "maven": one who abounds with helpful (and possibly annoying) ideas and information. I sometimes feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes in that I've finally found a productive use for my "peculiar talent." Thanks eNotes!! Thanks eNotes Editors!!

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 24, 2011 at 5:47 AM (Answer #10)

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I love reading, discussing, and learning together with my kids.  Of course, to do this, the students have to actually be motivated to read.  This year, I have two sections of AP Language with students who are outstanding thinkers and workers (who keep my boat floating) and, unfortunately, four sections of tenth grade students who would rather be anywhere but school.  These are the times when I wish I could just open up their heads and pour in what I know, making it easier on everyone involved.  However, since this year my state has put three major standardized assessments in tenth grade which they must pass to move on, I will continue probing until I break through the rock-solid barrier of apathy which hangs over them like a wet fog, or until they drop out because they're in trouble with the law, pregnant, or grandma died and left them what they think is a fortune.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 24, 2011 at 6:14 AM (Answer #11)

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I don't like complaining, but I feel I am in a very difficult position with no good alternatives. Because of choices I made a dozen years ago, I now have very few alternatives, if any.

I just listened to a podcast about how people with bachelor's degrees comprise 30% of the population, and those with MAs or higher far fewer than that, something like 9%.

Well, I hold a MA and am ABD PhD. I am making LESS MONEY now than I did as an office manager 10 years ago.

I truly wish I had stopped at a BA and gotten a teaching certificate. But I wanted to teach at a college level, so I pursued graduate degrees. Well, as a humanities prof, I have not been able to find a full-time job. Therefore, I am working at two different community colleges (something I once thought beneath me). I teach six classes, more than a full load if I had a full-time job. I have to teach all summer, too, because as an adjunct, no work no pay. Still, it is not enough, so I am working a third contract job. I barely make ends meet. Sometimes they do not meet. I do not have any benefits at all. No vacation, no healthcare, nothing.

I am also a single mother and have a child who has autism. I stay because I do not know what else to do. My office skills are now antiquated. I can say that I do enjoy teaching, but rarely do I get to do what I spent 8 yrs learning to do: teach literature. Instead, I most often get composition classes.

Lest you think I was just an average student and therefore did not hold much promise, I should say that I graduated Suma Cum Laude, both as a BA and MA.

Oh, and let's not forget the mountains of student loans that I have.

Anybody got any ideas for a hardworking, intelligent, multi-degree holder, let me know.

We won't talk about this being too too sad .... We will say that the obvious though time consuming solution and a perfect one for you is to write a book--I just  know you have multiple book ideas swimming around in your head. And the book market is prime right now for books featuring talented women who grapple with how to get through life (sound familiar?). While it sounds like an outrage to literarians, there are some good resources that teach how to write a book quickly (I don't have the courage to write "in a month" here ...!) There is also a club that "meets" online every November for National Novel Writing Month. I have two friends who wrote their first novels during Novel Writing Month while participating online at NaNoWriMo. So you have the health and energy, if you can squeeze in the opportunity, it is possible that you may find your answer in authordom--and if waiting for a publisher to recognize your genius takes too long, there are viable and respectable options in marketing-packaged self-publishing; e.g., Outskirts Press or Arbor Books.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM (Answer #12)

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I too keep teaching for the students.  There is nothing that thrills me more than see students go from underconfident, struggling teenagers, to confident learners under my tutelage.

I also like the comraderie of the staff, and the fact that my schedule matches that of my children who go to school in my district (which is the main reason I chose to teach where I do).

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM (Answer #13)

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A saddened as I am by the many posts which declare "no other choice" I revel in the posts which declare their love for students or literature as being the "exact" reason for teaching. I hope that you who are disappointed with how your lives have taken turns which you would not have wanted are able to find a way to reignite your passion for education and students alike.

This is simply me being optimistic. Hard given I can relate to piles of student loans and degrees which keep schools closer to my home from hiring me. Yes, I too can relate to the fact that accepting a teaching position meant less money than I had made previously, but I spent far too long getting to where I am to be angry about it.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted August 24, 2011 at 4:38 PM (Answer #14)

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I have taught for 18 years, and I have a passion for literature and interesting people. When I have felt myself getting stale, I change texts, focus, year group, something. This has meant I have taught students aged 11-80, low and high decile, literature and language, gifted and disabled and on two sides of the planet. I love that every day is different.

However, I have chosen to take a sabbatical to have a go at the writing that I keep pushing my students to do. I have told them for so long that I wouldn't ask them to do anything I wouldn't or haven't done. It seems I'm ready to put my creativity where my mouth is. My students will continue to be my inspiration, though.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted August 25, 2011 at 12:38 PM (Answer #15)

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Like Jamie, I am making less money than ever, having changed from law to teaching.  I am an adjunct now, gathering up as many courses as I can, and I must purchase my own health insurance.  But when I step into my classroom, I have no regrets.  I think I learn something new every day, I think at least one someone learns something from me every day, I am constantly moved by the nobility of my students, who juggle jobs, children, and school, and I am never bored.

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 28, 2011 at 10:39 PM (Answer #16)

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I must admit I always think of teaching as a kind of rollercoaster job. You either love it or you hate it (which is a Marmite reference to those of you with links to the UK and the elixir of the Gods which we have over there). Above all, as other editors have commented, what keeps me going is the fact that there is never a dull moment and I am always growing myself in my own understanding and knowledge of literature. I love the way that a 15 year old, with one comment, can make me radically reassess a poem or a text. I love the chance to impact young lives. I love the way that I have the ability to communicate my passion and love of literature to others. I do have my "down days" when I dream about working behind a desk in an office, but the truth is I would probably be really board and thrive off the chaos and unpredictability of teaching.

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felquilem | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 24, 2011 at 9:18 AM (Answer #17)

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I am now retired.  I spent thirty years in different schools, classrooms and grade levels.  I never thought about the pay check...I always had things to do and somehow the bills were paid.  I taught because that is who I am.  I didn't always get paid as a teacher but that is what I always did.

So, I am still teaching.  I can't imagine doing anything else.

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jarumi344 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 22, 2011 at 9:27 AM (Answer #18)

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I enjoy the "newness" of each day.  The students have a remarkable ability to be in the moment.  They forget that we had a rough day yesterday or that maybe I even yelled at them. :)  They come into the classroom with a fresh outlook and that inspires me to view life that way as well.

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