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Going back to school to teach?

Hi all!  I'm new to this board and am hoping all you teachers out there could help a girl out.  A little background about me- I graduated from college in 2005 with a psych degree.  I have since worked in a large retail setting as a buyer and a planner.  After taking a leave of absence from work I have decided that I would LOVE to go back to school and earn my teaching certificate (PreK-4).  What I am looking from you is to share the good, the bad and the ugly about the teaching world. Since this is a big life change I want to make sure that I am making the correct choice.  I absolutely love children and have experience as a summer camp counselor so I have a general idea of what I am in for.  Any information you're able to share with me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much for sharing!!

Re: Going back to school to teach?

  • Your experience teaching will vary greatly depending on the state, district, and school.  To go into teaching, you definitely have to have a love for children, and specifically - teaching (presenting and explaining material, and then repeating it over and over and over very patiently until they understand the material).

    I am not a teacher, because I know that I don't have the patience to deal with 20+ students at the same time - all day long, but I have many teachers in my family.  I don't want to discourage you, because I do believe that teaching is a very noble profession, but there is a lot more to teaching in a public school than just teaching.

    The main frustrations that I hear from my family members is that their hands are constantly tied by administrators and politicians who have never taught, and will never set a foot in their classroom.  They're given ridiculous amounts of redundant paperwork, their class sizes are manipulated, their resources are restricted, or unwanted resources are forced upon them that they have to figure out a way to incorporate despite their uselessness.  They're not only told what to teach (which is very reasonable - there are certain subjects and learning milestones that are expected), but they're told how to teach it - which can be frustrating when you KNOW there are better methods available. 

    Teachers are expected to teach a one-size-fits-all curriculum to a classroom full of children who are NOT all "one size learners."  My mother's heart breaks for her students because she knows that they deserve better, and know that she can give them a better education, but when her principal hands down direct orders about classroom management, and denies basic required learning tools, she very visibly sees the amount that her students learn diminish year, after year. 

    The most ridiculous thing that she had to deal with this year, is that her school was fined over a million dollars because politicians on a state level decided that special needs classrooms (which she teaches) should follow certain race quotas.  Never mind that she lives in an area with the second highest percentage of Asians in the country....since she has "too many" Asians in her classroom, her school was fined.  Now, they're scrambling to figure out which Asian student of hers will be promoted to regular education to avoid the fine again.  When the school picked the "best" candidate, my mother calmly asked...."so who, in kindergarten, is going to change her diaper?"  ....it dashed the schools dream of avoiding the fine again.  Because stupid politicians fail to realize that disabilities are not racial.....disabilities don't care if there are too many disabled Asians in the area already. 

    There are ridiculous and mind-boggling-stupid decisions handed down to schools from the state education department all the time, and teachers just have to take the lumps and keep teaching with their hands tied behind their back. 

    The second complaint that I hear from teachers are parents.  Specifically, the ones who don't discipline their child, and get mad at you for sending home a note that said their dear, sweet little Johnny was disruptive to the class from 8am-3pm....because apparently it's your fault that he doesn't know how to sit in a chair, keep his hands to himself, or listen to instructions. 

    Of course, this is public school.....which varies widely from state to state, and district to district.  If you land a job in a private school, decisions are made on a local level, and in general, seem to be FAR more sane.  ...And the pay far worse. 

    I really do honestly have a TON of respect for teachers.  They deal with all of this ridiculous crap because they have an honest-to-God love for teaching children.  They get little respect, the pay is (in my opinion) not worth it, and they get blamed for the failure of the education system as a whole (which is constructed and run by politicians).  Most importantly though, they are vital to our future.

    There are some child/teaching related options to explore besides becoming a public school teacher.  You can work for a private school, after school programs, or a tutoring or learning center.  Summer camps often have permanent staff to host or work with visiting groups that come in year-round.  Since you have a psych major, you could work in a school, but as a counselor.  Depending on your city, there may be child/learning centered programs within museums, or libraries for you to explore.  There are a lot of options if your desire is to work with children. 
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