Elementary, Mid, or High- How'd you decide?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aerorobyn, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. Aerorobyn

    Aerorobyn Rookie

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    Nov 29, 2008

    For those of you who loved teaching but didn't know what age group you wanted to teach, how did you finally decide? What grade are you teaching, and do you still enjoy it, or do you regret the grade level you're in completely?

    I'm just wondering because I have always wanted to be an Elementary teacher. However, I am now thinking that I would like to do high school. BUT, the counselor at my college's Educational Instruction department told me I would probably have the best chances going for a mid-level degree.

    I'm kind of confused, and I'd just like to hear others' stories!
     
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  3. DreamToTeach

    DreamToTeach Companion

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    Nov 29, 2008

    I don't have any insight to offer because I'm still working on my credential, but I wanted to say you are not alone. I assumed I would be happiest in elementary so that's what I'm heading for, but I was an English major so high school is quite intriguing. In CA I would have to pass the English CSET and take one extra course and I would be able to teach k-12. So that's what I plan to do. It is a hard decision. I didn't think I would like middle at all, but I've subbed 6th a lot this year and like the older kids, so maybe I would like it. I'd say spend as much time as possible in all the age groups - subbing, volunteering, and observing. I need to spend more time in HS, and I know I would be out of my comfort zone in a k-2 class, even 3rd is pushing it for me.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 29, 2008

    My original certification was for JK-grade 6 and before my children were born I spent several years teaching the little ones (Jk and K). When I went back to work after 10 years at home, the long-term positions I got were with grades 5 and 6 (which I loved!). My first permanent position involved, among other things, working with grades 7 and 8 (which absolutely terrified me at first). The past several years I have worked with grades 4-8. This past summer, I took additional qualifications and am now certified up to grade 10. I can't imagine ever going back to the little ones--anyone below grade 3 terrifies me!

    Everyone is so different and it's difficult to make that original decision. It is important to recognize that you need to be prepared to teach anything for which you are qualified and equally important to keep your mind open to new experiences. 10 years ago I never would have dreamed that I would love my grade 8s as much as I do!
     
  5. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Nov 29, 2008

    My brief experience teaching elementary left me with a life-long dislike of little kids. I'll take teenagers who act like six-year-olds over actual six-year-olds any day.
     
  6. Bonnie gr. 2

    Bonnie gr. 2 Companion

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    I am certified elementary and for English and as a Reading Specialist. When I graduated, I subbed in all levels. I realized that I really dislike middle school. I applied for high school and elementary jobs. I was hired in for elementary. I wouldn't be able to teach Englilsh now--it's been way too long. I only chose my grade level once. I have taught several grades that have been assigned by the administration.
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I started in middle school because I had a great relationship with the principal and staff from my work with the PTA before I got my credential, but I ended up teaching HS seniors because of a series of events, and that's where I belong. I'm fortunate because not many of my colleagues are as passionate about the seniors as I am, so the admin is pretty accomodating about giving me the schedule I want.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Once I decided that I wanted to teach math, it was relatively easy. NY State certification goes from grades 7-12.

    For some reason, middle school simply never occurred to me. I think it's because I love teaching the upper level courses. It's not the kids as much as the material.

    This year I'm teaching freshmen. I'll be happy if and when I can get back to teaching Precalculus and Calculus-- those are courses with some "teeth" to them.
     
  9. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    You may not have much of a choice. In many areas, elementary jobs are hard to come by, so people take what they can get. When I was hired, fourth grade (in Ohio) had 5 tested subjects, and was the only elementary grade with any tests. Guess where all of the new teachers went?! Luckily I found out I loved the older grades.

    Every grade has its challenges and its rewards; the content may be different, but that does not make it any easier to teach.
     
  10. adellesmama

    adellesmama Companion

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    I'd say that the more certifications you have, the more likely you are to be able to pick the age level you really want to work with. I am certified K-6 Elementary and K-12 Spanish, and after doing my student teaching I felt that I would go for a high school Spanish position because I would be way more marketable in that area and because I felt more successful in my high school student teaching...but I ended up getting hired to teach second grade. :lol: At first, I was a little unsure about taking on that age level since I hadn't gone younger than third grade in my college field experiences or student teaching, but now I really like it. I do feel that the more certifications you have, the more likely you are to get hired at a district because they'll see you as someone who they could hypothetically move around if need be. Plus, if you find out that you don't like teaching a certain age level, I believe that most districts allow in-house employees to submit applications for openings within the district and you'd have the ability to move grade levels/subjects if you had more than one credential. I really think the hard thing is getting a job at a district that you like!
     
  11. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Nov 30, 2008

    You never know which grade you like best until you try them. All while I was in undergrad I thought I wanted 2nd grade. My first teaching assignment was in 2nd grade, the next year I was in 3rd. I got another job and now I teach 6th. I never though I would like teaching 6th graders and I never wanted anything over 3rd. Now that I have them I can't imagine teaching anything under 4th.

    I would recommend talking to a principal or someone who has been teaching for awhile about your educational philosophy and how you would like your class to run. In May of my 2nd year teaching the principal wanted to move me to 5th grade. Around the same time I had an interview with a principal who thought I should be teaching 3rd grade and up. At the time I thought I wanted to go back to 1st or 2nd grades. Those principals were able to look objectively at my teaching style and tell if I would be better for primary or intermediate grades.

    But the important thing is to first get into a district. If you get a job in a district you like but not the desired grade level, take it. You can always switch after a year or two.
     
  12. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I am certified 5-12. I just KNEW I wanted a 7th grade classroom. I ended up with 11th and 12th grade because it was in the district that I wanted. I can't imagine being anywhere else. The thought of not teaching seniors is one I don't want to consider.

    So, I suspect, for most of us, we make the best of the what we get.
     
  13. Writer's Block

    Writer's Block Companion

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    I thought I wanted to teach high school. I KNEW for a fact I did not want elementary. I went to a job fair for the secondary schools for my district (didn't even go near elementary tables). When I met my prinicpal, I liked her immediately. We started talking, and I was hired shortly after the job fair. I teach 7th grade, and even though there are times when I think I need to go to higher grades, I really love them. They are at the age where it is still cool to like your teacher! They can drive me crazy, but I wouldn't change--at least not yet.
     
  14. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    It's funny that you wouldn't go near the elementary tables. It reminds me of when I was subbing. I subbed in the district I currently work in. In my district elementary is k-4. I did not put in to sub at the 5-6 grade building because I just knew I did not want those grades. Now I am a teacher in the very building I refused to sub at 5 years ago.
     
  15. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    Nov 30, 2008

    I am lucky in that Art as a subject matter has a physical product once a lesson is complete. In the Elementary circle, usually, the children are excited to come to art and that excitement is a fun tool to have and use. Often, the product isn't so fabulous. A lot of materials get wasted no matter how well you prepare to be conservative and only about 1 project in 5 comes close to being done on a level with your expectations.

    In HS, you have a near flip reverse. The excitement is gone, or nearly so. However, more students have adequate motor skills to complete projects that meet or exceed expectations.

    I tried HS first and like the aspect I described above. I'm currently at an Elementary school and I am enjoying the excitement that my class often has for something new.

    Notice that I do not mention MS or JH. I've had a year with this age group and it met with my expectation. Unfortunately, it wasn't great. We had moments where they performed well as a whole. We had moments where they performed excellent on individual basis. We had many more moments where they performed as the hormonally challenged children that they were.

    So I choose either Elementary or HS. Either one has benefits and drawbacks to consider.
     
  16. ELA 11 12

    ELA 11 12 Companion

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    Nov 30, 2008

    I thought for sure that I was going to teach elementary. I was terrible at it...though the kids loved me, I had no idea what I was doing (partly the blame of my MST program).

    Middle school is OK with me, especially 7th grade. It's a different kind of teaching, though. There is less time to focus on content and more time is spent keeping students engaged and on task.

    I FEARED the idea of teaching high school students, especially 11th and 12th grade. But here I am and would only teach lower grades if I was forced to do so.

    The cool thing about teaching is you can change frequently in the first 6 years or so, and beyond that time if you are not worried about losing pay. Here in NY we are on step systems, so most schools won't pay beyond step 5 or 6 when hiring experienced teachers.

    If you can move, try a bunch of jobs until one fits. You'll be happy you did, and every area needs teachers, just like nurses and doctors....
     
  17. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    This thread is very helpful. I am also in school right now, for my multiple subject credential, and often wonder where I will end up. I am nervous about even getting a job in May when it is time to hire, much less the grade of my choice. I am trying to be flexible, but that does get a little scary sometimes. I know and love and have worked with third for a long time, and have thought that is the only grade for me. But since I was a history major in college, the older grades do have their appeal. We'll see what happens...
     
  18. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Nov 30, 2008

    I know exactly what you mean. My two favourite grades are grades 7 and 12.

    It amazes me how some people fail to see how children of different ages learn in different ways and why some people might be very well suited to some ages but not another. I recently had a discussion with a teacher who has over 30 years experience who said that teaching is an 'art' that can be applied to any age group. Well I'm sorry but if your natural tool is a chisel you're probably going to be a lot better sculptor than painter and should think carefully about what art form you wish to pursue. I've thoroughly enjoyed 90%+ of my experiences teaching teens and adults but know for a fact that teaching elementary or ECE would be a disservice to the students and parents.
     

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