"There are three social classes in America: upper middle class, middle class, and lower middle class." -- Judith Martin
I was 7 years old when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I toyed with a couple other ideas very briefly once I got out of high school, but a teacher is what I became, and it's the only job I've had since I got out of university! I wanted to have the same impact on kids that certain teachers had had on me. I'd like to think I have had that kind of impact on a few. People say I'm crazy for teaching junior high, but they're fun, refreshing, and they keep me young and on my toes. When it's not fun anymore, that's when it will be time to quit!
Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...
I love that junior high age group, too. I love that they're old enough to be starting to figure out their own identities apart from their families, are starting to think for themselves and yet still need adults. It's such a period of transition physically, socially, emotionally, that it's always interesting.
I'm not a teacher but I strongly considered it as a career path. I work with children in a whole range of age groups and while I love working with kids I wasn't sure how I'd do in a classroom environment. I talked to a bunch of teachers, job shadowed, and then when I discovered that my major/minor combo wouldn't give me what I needed to enter into the education program at my local university it cinched the decision to not go into teaching. The seemingly rabid teacher's union in my province kind of scared me off too.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength” - St. Francis de Sales
My father has been teaching at Finlandia University for nearly 40 years at this point, and I grew up with his influence. For most of my childhood I waffled between saying I wanted to teach English like him when I grew up, or I wanted to be a famous pop star
Then I joined band in 6th grade, loved it, had an absolutely wonderful and influential band director, and this April graduated with my degree in instrumental music education. There's something really special about music that I think no other subject can even begin to emulate, and band kids tend to be the best students in any school. I wanted to teach kids to love music as much as I do, and to be a positive influence in their life.
I had a couple tough years in college where I really asked myself if I wanted to teach. I'm in my first year of teaching now. I couldn't find a band job in the US, so I am teaching English in China. I feel I am doing a very good job and I am liking the experience a lot, but I miss band a lot. I'm hoping I can find a band job - hopefully middle school - in the US some time in the next two years.
Not a teacher but I have many teacher friends. Impression I get is that unless you love it and is able to accept the satisfaction and challenges which come with teaching, don't bother. I have a friend who has just retired from teaching. She was well loved by her students, and what I found in her was not only knowledge in the subject, but a high level of enthusiasm, patience, positivity and compassion. She now gives free tuition to children who comes from disadvantaged background.
I think teaching in the 'right school' helps. Some of the complaints I heard are having to deal with disruptive children.
Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus
I started teaching performing arts at Further Education level (16-18) when I was 29, so nearly 10 years now. I almost fell into it, as I decided to take a break from working professionally to put down some roots with Mr Flo. I had no idea whether or not I could teach and got lucky with a break early on which was mainly due to my professional CV. One of the best bits about the job is the creative freedom I get from teaching a vocational subject. I found that I could indeed teach and truthfully have enjoyed the majority of my career thus far.
That's the positive. The negative isn't necessarily the odd wayward kid, or maintaining discipline or anything like that, but the humanly impossible admin responsibilities placed on us by management. Teaching is no longer the priority, it is data and statistics and woe betide anyone who misses a deadline, or *gasp* has a student actually fail a subject (through no fault f the teacher) because it messes up the figures. Every year it gets worse and the government continues to tamper with a system that was never broken in the first place. All I see now are pretty miserable teachers, many wanting out but scared to take the risk, or just leaving and making do with lower paying jobs. So far in the last 4 years, my department has seen 15 changes of staff due to people leaving.
I've had to cut my hours this year because I could not cope with the job 5 days a week. It's the best thing I ever did. I now teach singing privately on my day off (I've done this on and off for years but never continuously) and demand is high. So much so that I'm considering going down to 2.5 days a week in January. I'm doing a distance learning course in advanced contemporary vocal tuition which will qualify me to open my own vocal studio - hopefully next summer. So I'm not quitting teaching, I'm just changing the goalposts to suit me. I love to teach, especially 1-2-1 where you see results so quickly so if this works then it's win win. The joy of teaching without the pressures.
Thanks for everyone's responses. My mother has been a high school teacher for 30 years and just retired this past year as well as other family members and friends who are teachers so I know all the ups and downs of the job. Basically: students - good, administration and red tape paperwork - bad. (I know not all administrations are ALL bad...some are very supportive.)
The idea about teaching overseas was an intriguing one as I hadn't thought about that so I'll have to look into that more. I've also heard about teachers who work in hospitals for kids who are too sick or injured to be at a traditional school for any length of time. If I went the traditional school route I'm not sure what age level I'd be best with. I can see pros and cons for all of them. I really do love kids and love watching the wheels turn in their heads when they're learning and when they finally figure something out. Little kids especially...their brains are such sponges that soak up anything and I find that utterly fascinating. Every time I get around my three-year-old niece I can't wait for her to tell me (or show me) something that she's learned at school.
I need to contact my state's department of education to find out my options about school and non-traditional licensure. I just wanted to know other people's experiences during the job.
I have never heard of teaching in a hospital. That sounds kind of interesting, but could be very sad as well.
The thing about teaching overseas is that most schools want you to have a couple years experience before they will even look at your resume. I can't decide if I want to do that again or not. I know I would love it. I'm paranoid about traveling with my cats.
Little kids especially...their brains are such sponges that soak up anything and I find that utterly fascinating.
I used to think this until I started working in schools. Now I know about 1/4 struggle with learning. You have to have a special patience for working with kids who don't get it and try so hard. The number goes up when you have kids who have no desire to learn as they get older. I found it difficult and energy draining.
My son had an opposite reaction - he said it is easier to get failing kids to pass than it is to get B+ student to A+. Still he dropped the idea of teaching high school, changed his major and would rather teach at a university or college.
Finding a teaching job in China seems to be fairly easy. Most of the foreigners I've met working here as ESL teachers don't actually even have a teaching degree. If you go to expat websites there are always all sorts of schools and people looking for teachers.
And I am talking about teaching English to students in regular schools, where it appears my salary and benefits are equivalent to everyone else.
And I do have a teaching degree and my license. The school I am at is working hard to get qualified teachers. However, based on the job ads I have seen, not all are able to.
If your school is working hard to get qualified teachers, that's great - I hope they utilise them properly, and can actually keep them long term, but it's not common. I don't know any qualified teacher who would work for a local school over an international school who is not a missionary; not just for the money and benefits, but also because they really want to do their jobs. Some have started in local schools and not continued just because their teaching degree is not utilised at a local school (and local schools tend to be disorganised, break contracts etc.). I do think this is different teaching at universities though (though the pay and benefits are not fantastic, they value expertise) and of course there are exceptions, but local schools can never offer the same deals as international schools - international schools here cost up to US$30,000/year for a reason!