Choosing the teaching professionAs a veteran teacher who taught more than 30 years, I've noticed that many changes have come to the teaching profession in that time; would you choose again to be a...
As a veteran teacher who taught more than 30 years, I've noticed that many changes have come to the teaching profession in that time; would you choose again to be a teacher as you watch what the politicians, parents, and the local school boards are doing with public schools and the teaching profession?
As others have said, I got into teaching knowing it's a broken system. My hope is to serve my students & community well within that broken system.
I can pay most of the bills for my family, and I've (barely) survived being cut long enough to keep my job for 11 years. That counts for a lot.
Even better, my days are spent on other people. I contribute to their well-being, their sense of self, their understanding of the world. Even in these days of 'accountability' (tests & political distrust), I have quite a bit of autonomy in my classroom. Every day brings challenges, relationships, laughs, and at least a small sense of progress.
Without the time off to be with my family, I couldn't stay in teaching. But having that time off was not the reason to get into it. I wake up early and come home tired, but I do come home just an hour or two after my kids.
Yes, teaching has gotten harder just in this past decade. But I've gotten better at it, and I haven't learned my last trick yet. My family has a roof and three square a day. My days are spent meaningfully. Regardless of compensation level, I think that's more than most American workers can say these days. I'm blessed.
What an excellent question.
For the sake of argument, if I had the chance to turn back the hands of time today and decide on a profession again, I believe the only thing I would have done differently was to start college immediately out of high school, majoring in Education. When I graduated I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, took time off and worked fulltime, and returned for Business, which I hated. Teaching only became really difficult for me in the last four of five years.
Had I started younger, the kids and parents would not be as difficult to work with then as they are now. Teaching certainly doesn't seem to be the focus anymore with administrators, school boards, etc. Some parents say they are all "about" having their child educated, but many times seem really to only be looking for someone to blame when their youngster doesn't pull his/her weight.
I used to really love teaching. I was a lot like #3, "literaturenerd," and I hope that things stay that way for him. Teaching can be so wonderful when it's "working." It's disheartening to see what has happened to the profession.
As a new(er) teacher, this is something I struggle with on a regular basis. The pressure to perform is huge and sometimes seems too much. I constantly wonder whether it's worth it and whether I would still be teacher if I knew what I do now. While on some days I say that that answer is "no," I think ultimately my answer is "yes." When it comes down to it, I just don't see myself in a job in which I didn't feel like I was making some kind of impact. Sometimes I long to be in a job working with adults only and not having someone constatly looking over my shoulder to make sure I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. In the end, though, I just don't think I'd be happy with any other job. So, instead of lettin the pressure get to me, I tell myself that all that matters is my classroom and my students, and that I will do whatever I can as their teacher to make them successful.
I think if I knew I would be in a position of sole-financial responsibility for my family (which I'm not), I would not have chosen to become a teacher. My husband, who taught high school math after counseling/teaching for 3 years at a residential wilderness camp, realized exactly this our first year of marriage and decided to go to law school instead.
I love teaching, but like others, have decided it is not worth the disrespect that often comes with it (whether parents, other teachers, administrators, or students) and would encourage new (and old) teachers to seek an environment in which they are respected and thanked. Obviously, the pay check fails to do this on its own.
I spent twenty years of my life before I entered the teaching profession. Since that time, I have never looked back, and can't imagine myself doing anything other than teaching. Obviously there are problems within the profession; but having worked outside it for so many years, I can safely state that any profession has its share of problems, many of which can be unfairly thrust upon one. However, no other profession allows one to influence the future as does teaching. No other profession has those with whom one once worked stop one on the street many years later to say "remember me?" In short, no other profession offers the long range intangible benefits of teaching. I'm in it for the long haul.
I've been out of the classroom pursuing graduate school full-time this year, and next year I think I'm going back to teaching while doing graduate school. If, and this is a big if, you're in the right situation, it is the best job you can have, and I miss it greatly. Ultimately, I just never let the politicians, administrators, or anyone else intrude on my enjoyment of the process of teaching itself. It has its problems, and there are some teaching situations that are downright unworkable, but there are certainly worse ways to make a living.
I cannot see myself doing anything different. I knew coming into the teaching profession that I would face many conflicts (low pay, status, parent conflict, and students who simply do not care). For me, it is not about the masses. Instead, it is about that one "a-ha" moment, that one thank you, that one aced test (from studying really hard), the feeling of accomplishment on a student's face. While we struggle as teachers with the ever-changing policies, curriculum, and testing standards, I will never regret being a teacher.
There are so many intangible rewards to being a teacher that it is hard to imagine another career that is more deeply satisfying. In fact, just this evening we had over for dinner two former students of mine. Both of them are now married, have small children, and are well on their way to establishing fine careers for themselves. I always looked up to my best teachers as parental figures, and I now look at my best students almost as symbolic offspring. It is very satisfying to watch their lives develop.
I am currently taking a year out of teaching after 19 years. I do NOT miss changing policy for the sake of political point scoring, bad teachers who are protected bcause they are 'senior', contantly increasing expectations with constantly decreasing budgets....etc etc.
However...I miss actual teaching and students (good and bad). I would, and will, do it all again for the buzz of those four magic words 'I get it now!'
Yes and no. I went straight from college to grad school, and at the end of seven years of living in a dorm and eating ramen noodles, I decided to stop at the master's degree level and get a job teaching at a high school. I wish I had stayed in grad school and gotten a PhD, and gotten a teaching job at the college level. The opportunity to do research while teaching is really appealing in hindsight.
Yes, I would do it again. I love the fact that students with whom I have kept in touch (thank you, Facebook) sometimes tell me that I have had an impact on their lives. I feel good when I'm invited to students' weddings (small town...) Sure, there are easier things to do, but there aren't all that many jobs that can give you that sort of satisfaction.
My perspective is a bit different because I was an attorney for 25 years and then changed professions. While I do not like many of the changes I see, I love teaching, and I have no regrets about my choice. Everywhere I go, I see students and former students, people whose lives I touched and who have certainly touched mine. I would never go back.
If I knew what I know now, I probably would NOT choose to become a teacher in this day and age. With administrators, politicians and parents blaming teachers for student deficiencies, why take on the grief and incredibly low pay that goes along with public school teaching?
Absolutely I would choose teaching again. Philosophies in education cycle. If you don't like what's happening today, hang on.
Personally, I believe that politicians will tire of trying to mandate us to death and will move on to something else.
I think I was inspired by my father who was school teacher in a high school. Since my childhood I wanted teaching as my profession. I like discussing with my students. Its true that now a days, politicians have poked their nose into this sacred profession. Teachers are more a politician than a teacher. It is becoming tougher and tougher to cope up with their views and desires. Of course, salary has been paid in good amount. But most of the students are now reluctant to put effort in study. This has somewhat disheartens me. I have served for 17 years and I think for another 5/6 years I shall be in this profession.
I agree with post 10. I started with this profession more than 50 years back but due to unfair practices, I left it after 5 years. Now after retirement, I joined the same profession for the resons identical to those given in post 10. My students, little children are no doubt like my own children. I love them.
I am not sure what you mean by "perform" but I can add a bit to the idea of making an impact. I have been teaching for over 20 years and I am surprised every now and then to the point of joyful tears. We do make an impact from our investment of time, caring, preparation, cajoling, and all the rest to have students learn from us to hopefully make a better more rewarding life for themselves. That investment is a long term one and one that we don't often see a return on for most of our students. However, once in a while, it does come back to us in ways that are wonderous. Recently I received an email from a former student thanking me for teaching her chemistry well enough to have done well in college and allow her to be accepted into a program she really wanted. She thanked me for getting her to "learn" not memorize and forget as soon as the test was done. My heart has been lifted for days... I will get a postcard when a student has graduated - again a simple thank you. Former students will stop by and let me know how they are doing and how something I taught them or a method I used to help them has worked for them. I even had a student announce on a radio program that I was the one who convinced her that she could be the Doctor she dreamed of becoming. Work from your heart - do your best and soon the "shoulder looking over" will end - They will know you are a Teacher.