Beginning secondary math and dealing with stigma

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Luke8Ball, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2012

    Hey folks!

    I'm a junior math major entering my first semester of fieldwork and education classes. I've always leaned towards being a high-school math teacher, and my decision to apply to the program wasn't on a whim.

    However, I'm finding that whenever I tell people my plans (which I'm genuinely excited about), they say things such as "Oh gosh, I've heard so many bad stories," or "Are you sure that's what you want to do?" Not only are these comments rude (though the people seem completely oblivious to this), they're discouraging. Is it true that teaching in high-school is that bad, or are these comments coming from those who came in with the wrong expectations? I want to be a teacher because I enjoy math and I enjoy helping others - the salary is honestly not that important to me.

    Also, one last question: I am a bit of an introvert, so will that be much of a hindrance for me? I imagine I'll be nervous when I begin student-teaching, but that'll go away?

    Thanks for your responses. :)
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I've been teaching high school math since 1980. There's not another career in the world for me.

    No, it's not for anyone. But then again, neither is any career. My brother in law is a lawyer, my sister is a CPA-- neither career would give ME the fullfilment that teaching does.

    Ignore the comments. Don't try to make converts of them; you'll have no luck. But each of us has the chance to find out what makes us happy. They've had their chance, and you're entitled to yours.

    Best wishes!!
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I taught kinder for three years. When I asked to move up because I wanted to work with older kids, I was placed in 5th. People said the same thing. That they are rude, annoying, obnoxious, stinky, etc etc. Heh, well, while the year did involve a lot of trials and errors since it was my first year, it was also a wonderful year. I loved those little boogers.

    Soooooo, the people who are saying the comments, have they actually taught math or worked with secondary students? If not, then how do they know?
     
  5. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I can speak to the introvert question.....
    I consider myself to be an introvert as well, however I feel that teaching has actually helped me to come out of my shell a little bit. Over the five years I have taught, I have become much more comfortable speaking in front of/with both kids and adults (I teach middle school math). Like you I was EXTREMELY nervous when I first started, but one thing that helped me was to think of teaching as a little like "acting"....when I thought of it that way I didn't have to confine my teaching to my normally quiet personality. Now I really don't have to do that anymore because I actually have become much more comfortable in my own teacher-skin. Hope this helps :)
     
  6. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2012

    Thanks for all of the encouraging responses!

    The people who've been bothering me are not in the teaching profession at all. For example, today my dental hygienist asked if I had begun fieldwork yet, and I told her I hadn't. She then said that's probably why I'm still in interested in teaching; she said she knew people who had begun their student teaching and then hated it. Nevertheless, it's uncalled for on a number of levels.

    And thanks for the comments about being an invorvert! I hope I'll be like you and just get accustomed to playing a part, rather than being nervous. Only time will tell. :)
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I forgot to comment on that. I'm pretty shy and quiet. I'm very much an introvert. But when working with kids, it's a bit different. I don't know but I feel I can work with them better than with adults. You will be nervous on the first day, but eventually you just get used to it.
     
  8. MathEqualsLove

    MathEqualsLove Companion

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I would say that you should pursue your dreams. Don't let the comments of others dissuade you. I've had many of my own teachers discourage me from going into the education field.

    Now, I'm two days into my student teaching (high school math), and I'm absolutely loving it. I'm quite an introvert, too, but I find it is totally different when I'm at the front of the classroom. I think it stems from the fact that I love math. And, I love to talk about math. During my first couple of field experiences, I was kind of nervous, but that wore away pretty quickly.

    Good luck!
     
  9. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2012

    I agree, teaching isn't for everyone, but it is definitely a job for some people. Don't let others scare you off if this is something you want to do. With the economy and all the media, you hear a lot of negative comments about teaching. So, the people who are giving you the negative attitudes are being bombarded with all the negatives of teaching.

    With being introverted, you'll get over it in the classroom. You just may not be the person who speaks at meetings or presents, but you can definitely still teach. And those first few weeks of student teaching and other observations are mostly observations. So, you won't be teaching a lot right away, you'll have some time to ease into things.
     
  10. kme93

    kme93 Companion

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    Jan 5, 2012

    :D I know exactly what you're talking about. The most common reaction I got was: (eyes bugging out) "Oh, gosh! Are you serious?" I just laughed and said I knew what I was getting myself into. If you like math and want to teach, do it!
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Okay I'm snarky tonight but I would reply with "Really and I thought you had to be polite to be a [insert profession here]." Actually I wouldn't say that at all but I might think it :lol:

    I just shrug the people off and say I love it and I love my kids. 99.9% of the time they're fantastic kids! If the people don't believe you then just change the topic :)
     
  12. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jan 5, 2012

    Everyone has a place. I cannot imagine teaching high school, it just isn't for me, but an equal (or greater) number of people feel like that about kindergarten and I love it, so it evens out somewhere.
     
  13. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    These comments from such a broad spectrum of teachers are very encouraging! I can't wait for fieldwork this semester. It's about time I get to focus on what I want to do!
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2012

    At which point I'd be thinking. "Ummmm...I can't imagine digging around in other people's mouths all day...:dizzy:"
     
  15. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Jan 12, 2012

    I have had the same experiences. I've been born and brought up in a culture where basically everyone goes on to become a doctor or engineer. So when I tell my family friends my goal is to teach, I get this crazy look like "why would you ever want to do that?"
    Even in my math courses, most of my classmates didn't want to teach. When they were discussing careers in math, everyone basically said "I really hope I don't have to end up teaching."
    You can't change anyone's mind; you just have to be happy with your own life. My own PARENTS screamed at me for 6 months when I was in high school saying that I was wasting my intelligence on teaching, and saying that I only want to teach because it's easy. (far from true, obviously) I just stuck with what I wanted to do, and now my parents are supportive.
    I remember when one of my friends told me that she couldn't imagine why I would ever want to teach math. Well, she wanted to be a research psychologist, and I can't imagine doing that. We are all meant for different paths, and not one is better than the other. Just be happy that you chose the path that let you follow your dream; not many people get to do that.
     
  16. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2012

    I get the same responses when people learn I teacher juniors and seniors.

    I LOVE MY JOB. The students are the best part of my job!

    And, I am an introvert ... but, in front of a classroom of students I am very much a performer (I have no idea where it comes from, it is just part of my teacher persona ... nothing I honed, just appeared when I became the teacher in the room).
     
  17. biologyland

    biologyland Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2012

    You can kindly tell them to stuff it. :)

    I'm a youngish, blond female who's all of 5'3" and fairly introverted. When people find out that I teach at a dominantly African-American inner-city high school with a bad reputation, I get those same looks, with bonus comments, such as "You haven't gotten shot yet?" and "I'll bet the kids love your class because it's probably a free for all with you in there.".

    Yes, these comments suck. Yes, they're ignorant. If these people could come into my classroom for just one afternoon I know they would understand why I do what I do and where I do it. The most important thing is that, at the end of the day, you go home and love what you do.

    As for the introvertedness, you'll find a teaching style that works best for you. I am MUCH more outgoing in the classroom than I am at home or with friends; you will eventually find your niche!

    Oh, and one word of advice? Wear lots of deodorant. I was sweating like a fool up there my first few weeks of student teaching. :)
     
  18. AFine

    AFine Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2012

    People said this to me about teaching middle school math. Most of them are coming from the experience of raising middle school or high school aged kiddos, not from teaching them. It also comes from movies about high school students being really mean to their teachers. I think it is all misconception. It isn't for everyone, but I love it!
     
  19. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Feb 12, 2012

    AMEN, SISTER!!!!!
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Feb 12, 2012

    Luke8Ball - the only person that can decide if teaching secondary math is right for you is.....YOU! Teaching can be very hard and doesn't have the same financial rewards as other jobs, but it has intangible rewards most other jobs can't touch; getting hugs or high-fives from students and knowing you are helping shape and guide their lives - and that they APPRECIATE that - is a feeling few other jobs can match.

    I completely agree that different personalities are designed for different grade levels. My personal niche' is middle school. I absolutely LOVE this age of kids, even with all the drama, hormones and blossoming attitudes that go with it. It is all part of their growing and learning process. I like high school as well, though I think my personality is better suited for middle school.

    I love elementary kids (who wouldn't love students giving you hugs just because you're their teacher), but I don't have the skills or personality to reach that age group on a daily basis. Kinders are wonderful and exciting gifts from God, but I would probably go crazy trying to handle a room full of them all day long. That just isn't what I'm cut out for and that's ok.

    When I tell people in my area I'm middle school math teacher, most of the responses I get are a sympathetic "God Bless You" or "You're a brave man". Sometimes I will get the "I could never deal with pre-teens all day long", too, but I just shrug it off. This job isn't for everyone, but it is definitely the job for me.

    And like czacza said, I can't imagine digging around inside other peoples mouths all day...ewwwwwwwww. But I'm glad other people CAN do that. :D

    orangetea - I'm so glad your parents are now supportive of your choice. My first cousin is an incredibly intelligent girl and graduated at the top of her class, but her high school years were horrible for her BECAUSE of her parents. Her dad (who was an elementary school P) INSISTED that she was going to be a doctor. Both parents also insisted that NOTHING less than an "A+" was acceptable on her report cards. She was studying 3 hours a night from 6th grade through 12th. All the that time, she secretly HATED the idea of becoming a doctor, but was literally terrified to tell her dad that. So, by the age of 16, she had chronic ulcers and a host of other health problems from all the stress at home. When she FINALLY got the courage to tell her dad she didn't want to be a doctor, he went ballistic.

    Eventually, he and my aunt both finally accepted her career choice and she went on to have a very successful career. She worked for Digital and IBM as an Industrial Engineer for several years, then she and her husband left the computer field and started their own business, which has also become successful. She finally accepted the fact that she WAS a good and successful person, despite the "disappointment" her parents (and especially dad) might have felt towards her career. The sad thing, for them, though is that now their relationship is very distant. There are a LOT of other factors that have contributed to that, but the bottom line is she simply doesn't have much to do with them anymore and it is because of the way she was treated growing up. I think they finally realized the damage they did, but by that time, it was too little too late. I'm glad you and your parents were able to avoid that.
     
  21. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Feb 12, 2012

    Yeah. I'm a high school teacher. Aside from the recent general disregard for teachers, people I talk to just can't imagine spending entire days in rooms full of teenagers. They'd rather eat glass. Even some elementary teachers I have talked with have felt the same way. My wife works with K-1 and loves it: I wouldn't know what to do with the little munchkins. (It's so important to find the right grade-level for you.)

    I love my subject matter, and I know a lot about it, but the most sustaining thing for me is that I do love being in rooms full of teenagers. They're fascinating (and hilarious). It's fun to help them learn.

    Many teachers, I think, are not extroverts by temperament. Many are ex-nerds: some still practicing ones. I'm not a real extrovert, but I do play one in high school, sometimes flamboyantly. Mine is a far more interesting role than many are given to play in their careers.

    Give it a try. If it's right for you, you'll never regret it.
     

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