What is the profession like where you teach?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Musicteachercanada, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Musicteachercanada

    Musicteachercanada New Member

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    Jan 3, 2017

    Hi, I've been curious about this for some time given that this website seems to draw educators from all across the US and Canada. I just read a post about how teachers in California have to give up their preps to cover when a supply (sub) can't be found. This is very surprising to me; although I've done this in the past voluntarily to help the school out, no principal here would dare ask a teacher to do that, the union would come down so hard. For reference, I teach in a suburban board in Ontario, Canada.

    What is teaching like where you live? I'm in my early 30's and have been teaching for 4 years...although there are many things that stress me out on a daily basis, and education in Ontario certainly has a long way to go towards equity, I'm quite glad to be a teacher. I feel I'm very well (and fairly) compensated for my work, and I can actually teach meaningful content and enjoy my interactions with the kids (for example, in Ontario we only have 1 standardized test per year in the elementary panel, and it's only for grades 3 and 6).
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jan 4, 2017

    I'm in Colorado. Although I absolutely love living here, IMO this is a hard state to teach in. Lack of funding for schools is a significant issue, and I truly don't see it improving due to our tax laws (you can google TABOR if you're really curious). The private sector is absolutely booming in my city, and people are moving here in droves which is significantly driving up the COL, especially with rent/housing. I truly don't understand how teachers afford houses here unless they have wealthy spouses. The average teacher salary is 45K and a tiny house in a halfway decent neighborhood is in the $400K's minimum. I worry that there will come a point where I am simply "priced out" and will have to go back to the Midwest. Due to pay cuts and freezes, I'm a 7th year teacher but paid as a 3rd year teacher, and we have a permanent furlough day that also cut our salary. I'm fortunate to be in one of the very few area districts that still pays extra for teachers who have MA degrees; luckily raises for that haven't been frozen so I was able to move up on the pay scale a bit that way (but of course, I had to put in my own money to pay for the MA degree in the first place).

    Many of the wealthier districts have become highly politicized with "reform" school boards and political agendas (I'm guessing they're choosing high SES districts to infiltrate so they don't actually have to prove said "reforms" are actually working- test scores are already very high in these districts). I am fortunate on this front too because in my tiny, low SES district we're shielded from this. Our superintendent and school board are very pro-public ed and they have protected us from some of the "reforms" at the state level (such as paying based on state test scores, or firing teachers for poor test scores). In the districts that have been taken over, things are really, really bad and there is a lot of anti-teacher/anti-union (which is funny, because this is a right to work state) rhetoric in the news. However, to be fair there are a lot of parents even within these wealthy communities that are pushing back, so that's nice. I find our average parent to be very supportive at my school. My city already has critical shortages in typical highly specialized areas (SPED, HS Math/Science) and we're getting to the point where there's going to be a shortage across the board, IMO. We had a hard time filling even regular ed elementary positions at my school last year and the number of applicants drops significantly each year.

    In contrast, my dad is a teacher in Ohio and he makes significantly more (as in tens of thousands more) than a teacher at the top of our pay scale could ever dream of, and the COL is so much lower. My parents live in a very nice house in a good neighborhood that is valued at around $130K. However, I've found that support for education/teachers in general seems to be much lower among the public there, and I think part of that is because teachers do get paid so well (not saying at all that they shouldn't, but I think we get more support here because people know we're paid poorly). Also, the job market is much, much tougher there. I pretty much went into college knowing that I'd have to move states to get a job. My dad's school gets about 5,000 applicants for each opening. I was actually visiting there over break and it seemed everyone had put in YEARS as a para/sub before finally landing a full time position. One of his teammates is my age and is finally in her first year as an actual teacher after doing various para/long term sub positions for six years in order to get her foot in the door. Many of the people I went to college with that weren't willing to move states have simply given up and moved on to other careers. I think that if I tried to go back I'd have an even harder time getting hired because I'm too experienced...with only 7 years! Around here it's common for older/experienced teachers (even up to 15-20 years) to be hired for new positions.
     
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  4. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Jan 4, 2017

    I live in rural Northeast Texas and it's a good profession in this area, especially for math and science teachers like myself. While the pay isn't as high in other areas, I live in an area that has pretty low cost of living. My wife and I are both teachers and we live very comfortably: four-bedroom home, two cars, savings, etc. Teachers are still well-respected in my area by students and parents both. I honestly wouldn't teach if I had to leave my current school. I am fortunate to look forward to coming to work each day. I'm sure most of my colleagues would say the same.
     
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    Jan 4, 2017

    I teach in northern Utah and I'm pretty happy with it. Utah has a fairly low CoL and our pay isn't bad. We don't have a huge budget for education, which I'd like to see go up, but on the flip side we're fairly efficient with that money. It is a right-to-work state, for better or worse, with a pretty strong union, which is a nice balance if you like your freedom.

    What teachers do or do not do seems to vary between district. Teachers often compare notes on this or that district.
     
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  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Groupie

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    Canada, eh? We're practically neighbors: let's just say A LOT of my classmates commute from your neck of the woods. ;)

    The school district I'd LOVE to teach in pays its teachers WELL ($46 starting,) with annual increases, and all kinds of ways to draw extra income by coaching and advising clubs and whatnot. I actually found the contract online (out of curiosity) and was browsing it. It's way better than teaching in AZ, where my contract was basically a 2 page memo which said, "We can fire, move you or cut your pay at any time and if you leave you have to pay us $2500 and we can add 'additional duties' as needed." It was a joke. This contract is legit and I grew up and went to the school and HAD those teachers; they live nice lives because COL is pretty low (no one else in the area has any money, ) so you can live in a nice 4 bedroom suburban home with a few cars, take vacations and send all your kids to college , which they all did. Most of my teachers now (having been there for 20 + years) make $70 or 80 and will have nice retirements to look forward to.
    And it's pretty still well respected, I mean we have a lot of drop outs who have kids, but there are educated parents who understand the hard work the teachers do and support.
    But of course, there are NO JOBS, which is the downside of the profession being so tight! I heard through the grape vine that there will be retirements this year, and I'm hopeful, but it doesn't mean anything. It's one of those -- they only hire you if they know you, type of deals. Small towns, ugh!
    :roll:
    Let's just say if I got a job, I'd be very happy and comfortable, but of course there's pressure to perform (state tests & all,) but that's the job.
     
  7. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Jan 5, 2017

    I teach in rural, eastern North Carolina, and I love it! I came into the profession AFTER tenure was dropped, so I can't attest to anything teachers "lost" before I came on board. Perhaps that would affect my outlook.

    With that said, as a 4th year teacher, I make 5K more than I did as a first year teacher (I also got my Master's in the interim which bumped my pay scale), I make MORE than the average median income in my county, and I will be making more (assuming) when I get my national boards in a couple of years. I teach at a school I really enjoy, enjoy the student population, and I teach the subjects and grade-level I want to teach. I never get pulled to do "extraneous" duties I hear others talk about (like covering classes). I don't have "morning" or "afternoon" duty--however as a 7th grade teacher, of course there is the occasional athletic duty event (4x per year). I have supportive admins and so feel confident and content in my position. I do have paperwork to contend with, but substantially less so than I hear about in other counties.

    I have worked in three counties since I began my internship, all of them were OK, but I really like the one I'm in now.

    I really lucked out it seems. North Carolina, at least the rural coast, is not a bad place to work at all.
     
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  8. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Jan 6, 2017

    My sister, brother-in-law, and nephews live in CO.

    I've been extremely tempted to pick up and move there, but I'd be taking a huuuuuuuge pay cut (administrators across the state of CO seem to make at least 30k less than what I earn here in CA). Plus, the cost of living in Colorado Springs is much, much higher than where I live (Central CA).

    I think I'll stay in CA. My parents are here. My BF doesn't particularly want to leave CA, either, because his mom is old and unwell.
     
  9. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2017

    I teach ENL in NY. Educators are not respected here. We have a teacher evaluation system, ten-year now takes four years to get instead of three years, and you belong to different tiers based on when you were initially certified. Each tier of teachers gets similar benefits, but the way you go around getting them, calculating the benefits, and preparing for things like retirement differs from tier to tier. It feels difficult to keep track of at all times since, for example, people in my tier, tier five, have to work longer than people in tiers four and under. The process to become certified is also very lengthy and thus fewer people are getting certified to teach in New York. To be certified you have to take three tests (a content specialty test, a communications test, and one other test) and you have to submit a teaching portfolio for evaluation by the state. As part of the portfolio, you have to submit videos of yourself teaching, but you can only film yourself teaching English Language Arts (at least that is what some of the student teachers at my school are saying). We currently have a substitute teacher shortage in my school and there is a definite shortage of ENL teachers in my area of the state. Several nearby districts that are finally having to teach ENL students have been calling my school to try and recruit some of our ENL teachers. I experienced firsthand this year what it was like to not have enough subs and thus have to cancel my class every time I leave to attend a conference. The pay is decent, though, and my coworkers, students and school are fantastic, which is what keeps me in the profession every day. I can see the bright side in the profession and thus choose to stay year after year.
     
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  10. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Groupie

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    1. I personally think it's a better idea to push tenure off until the 4th (or even 5th) year because the first years aren't really enough to prove yourself in a classroom imo. And there are a lot of states where tenure doesn't even exist so I'm still happy about that.
    2. Yeah the retirement system is tiered. I'm in tier 6, but a lot of new teachers probably won't even stay in the profession long enough to retire, as sad as that is.
    3. Yes the cert. exams were a pain, and I failed one multiple times, but I think the edTPA was the MOST useful in showing off my skills as an educator (call me crazy and feel free to disagree all you want,) I've debates with others about it, because they tried to make the claim that "I'm not a test taker," (who is? And I think that excuse can only be milked for so long. I failed, studied hard, explored every avenue, and finally passed) or "It doesn't show off my ability to teach." Um.. it actually does and I would say is the one that most accurately demonstrates one's competence to handle the job. I got a mastery score! You literally plan, instruct, assess and reflect... we do that EVERY DAY as teachers. My classmates (who have never taught in a classroom) don't understand that, but they will soon enough. The idea was to raise the rigor of the standards for the students AND teachers, and then they pass these safety nets... so ... that was counter productive imo.

    I'd rather be over prepared to teach in a classroom, than under.

    But NYS licensure is still coveted nationally.
    :):peacesign:
     
  11. Musicteachercanada

    Musicteachercanada New Member

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    Jan 6, 2017

    We don't have tenure in Ontario for elementary school teachers. There is a seniority system in place to determine who gets moved to other schools if and when the student population drops and the number of teachers in the building needs to be reduced (this is called "surplus").
     
  12. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Comrade

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    I think the length of tenure should depend on how many years you've been teaching, evaluations, and if you've been tenured before. I also think it should depend on the district and its contract. This is my 8th year teaching and I'm finally on my tenure year (next year will be tenured after 4 years in the same district and 4 years of previous reaching experience). Funny thing is my district thought I was supposed to be tenured this year and even board approved me for it but I brought it up and they fixed it. My bosses could not believe I was not tenured yet (I've gotten great evaluations).
    In Illinois, if you've been previously tenured and move to a new district, you can be tenured again in as little as 2 years (depending on evaluations). I'm in NJ now.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I'm in Denver. CO Springs is much cheaper than here! When I was job searching a few years ago I started looking around there because it's more affordable. I was offered a position here in Denver and a position there on the same day, and ultimately decided to take the Denver position because I just didn't want to live in CO Springs. I'm sure you're better off where you are!
     
  14. jteach89

    jteach89 Companion

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    Im in the NYC area, I will say in New York it has become increasingly competitive to get a teaching license. I was grandfathered in before the ETPA. If you work in the city you do get a decent salary and it increases with years and educational credentials. Teachers make a well enough salary ( up to 6 figures) with 20+ years of experience and school. I'm a newbie in the field this is my 4th year teaching and switched to a new grade. In terms of retirement idk things are changing, I believe its still 25/55 but Im doubting I will make it to the 5th year mark lol. I'm supposed to be up for tenure this year but I switched grades so it may be one more year for me.
     
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  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 6, 2017

    I live in the Central Valley. cost of living is very low, but our salary is not reduced because of it. it's very similar to what I would be making in San Diego, for example, but there, rent would be about $800 more per month.

    Not sure how it is everywhere in California, but at my current district I got tenure after 2 years.
    Can't complain about anything, this district seems to make things easy: they counted my LTS experience as a year, because it was 9 months and it was a contract for that time period, they allowed me to complete BTSA in one year instead of two (huge difference). This is my 4th year at this district and now I'm making $12000 more than when I started. This is due to some education credits I obtained (I think 9 credits), and some across the board raises. We just got another 1 % raise, not a lot, but it pays some bills.
    I teach alternative ed, and I love it, because some freedom comes with it. Challenges, too, but the freedom is greater. And we are directly under the superintendent, and because this is a small town, small district, the superintendent actually knows who I am, what and where I teach. (this goes for everyone, I assume). So I don't feel like I'm a nobody.

    What I do know in California, is that tenure and seniority goes by the district. So if I left, I would start all over at another district and would become tenured in 2 years (I assume). But my years of experience would count, so I would start at step 6.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Comrade

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    I teach in NJ and teachers are treated pretty well here (with the exception of our governor). We have a union and they do a pretty good job of representing us (at least in my school district). NJ is very expensive to live in, and I honestly can't see myself ever buying a house or even a condo under 400k (there really isn't much below that unless it's a fixer upper) unless I get married. I can't save because my rent is so high. We have decent salaries (not enough for the cost of living honestly, but I feel like it's that way everywhere with teachers), but the raises don't really cover the cost of living and insurance increases. I moved here from IL to find a better job (that I love), but I'm not sure that I'll stay here forever. At the time i left, there were really no jobs and i just looked everywhere. I think the job situation is much better now and I have more experience and a masters to show for it.
     
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  17. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    I'm always amazed at hearing about places where decent housing is 4 or 5k.
    That's in "fancy house" territory in Utah.
     
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  18. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2017

    I agree with you in that EDTPA is very useful in showing off your skills. I was initially certified in Massachusetts in 2010, years before NY had EDTPA, and I think it is a great way for people to showcase their skills in a holistic way instead of just relying on tests that a lot of people are having trouble passing. I make mention of the content area tests because people have been complaining not about having to take them, but about how lengthy the process is to become certified in NY. That has become a detriment to some people when they look in to teaching. Another thing is, I used to teach in NYC and I loved the pay and the respect I got as a teacher. I once had a girl who was just passingly thinking of being a teacher come up to a group of teachers and me from our school in a coffee shop (we had gone out together after school once) to ask about my profession. I now work in rural, upstate NY, in farm country, because I didn't start working in the city until I had been subbing for over two years under my three certificates. The city said they wouldn't take my experience when I wanted to apply for my permanent certificate and I went, "Well, I don't have enough years of validity left on these certificates, and this school is in a very dangerous part of the city, I guess it's time to leave," so I found this job, which I love. What I don't love, however, is that the low cost of living upstate has also correlated to a pretty hefty pay cut compared to what I was making in the city. I was making 60k + in the city and I'm now making significantly less. People also have a lot of bias toward ENL teachers upstate because there aren't a lot of ENL students upstate and our department isn't treated well. Teaching upstate is very different from teaching downstate near NYC, though, and you definitely feel the change towards more benefits and respect for teachers near NYC as opposed to upstate.

    I don't mind the four year tenure system because it has really forced me to hone my skills and get all the help I need. Other people are complaining about how long it takes, though, and when I first started teaching full time about a year and a half ago, I felt that way too. I was like, "Will I last four years? What if they don't like me and decide to extend ten-year for me from four years to five years because I don't fit in with the school culture?" (I sometimes misremember this rule about the five year policy, though, so please correct me if I am wrong.) Part of my situation is that I love helping students who are in difficult situations, such as the military students that I currently teach, and I wouldn't give that up for the world.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  19. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Comrade

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    I don't know how it works in NY, but here the law is 4 yeas. Either the district has to grant you tenure after four years (unless one of the four years was a leave replacement) or let you go. There's no extension.
     
  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Groupie

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    [QUOTE="sjanew15, post: 2018736, member: 95682"]I agree with you in that EDTPA is very useful in showing off your skills. I was initially certified in Massachusetts in 2010, years before NY had EDTPA, and I think it is a great way for people to showcase their skills in a holistic way instead of just relying on tests that a lot of people are having trouble passing. I make mention of the content area tests because people have been complaining not about having to take them, but about how lengthy the process is to become certified in NY. That has become a detriment to some people when they look in to teaching. Another thing is, I used to teach in NYC and I loved the pay and the respect I got as a teacher. I once had a girl who was just passingly thinking of being a teacher come up to a group of teachers and me from our school in a coffee shop (we had gone out together after school once) to ask about my profession. I now work in rural, upstate NY, in farm country, because I didn't start working in the city until I had been subbing for over two years under my three certificates. The city said they wouldn't take my experience when I wanted to apply for my permanent certificate and I went, "Well, I don't have enough years of validity left on these certificates, and this school is in a very dangerous part of the city, I guess it's time to leave," so I found this job, which I love. What I don't love, however, is that the low cost of living upstate has also correlated to a pretty hefty pay cut compared to what I was making in the city. I was making 60k + in the city and I'm now making significantly less. People also have a lot of bias toward ENL teachers upstate because there aren't a lot of ENL students upstate and our department isn't treated well. Teaching upstate is very different from teaching downstate near NYC, though, and you definitely feel the change towards more benefits and respect for teachers near NYC as opposed to upstate.

    I don't mind the four year tenure system because it has really forced me to hone my skills and get all the help I need. Other people are complaining about how long it takes, though, and when I first started teaching full time about a year and a half ago, I felt that way too. I was like, "Will I last four years? What if they don't like me and decide to extend ten-year for me from four years to five years because I don't fit in with the school culture?" (I sometimes misremember this rule about the five year policy, though, so please correct me if I am wrong.) Part of my situation is that I love helping students who are in difficult situations, such as the military students :D that I currently teach, and I wouldn't give that up for the world.[/QUOTE]

    We're neighbors and I have a feeling I know where you teach.
    :handfist:
     
  21. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Groupie

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    They don't have to EXTEND you,they can let you go, but if they feel like you can prove yourself, they do.
     

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