Elementary or Secondary: How Did You Decide?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by OedipaMaas, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. OedipaMaas

    OedipaMaas Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 16, 2010

    How did you know what grade level you wanted to teach?

    I'm waffling over whether to go for a multiple subjects credential or an English single-subject credential.

    Since they are both in pretty low demand, there does not seem to be any economic reason to choose one over the other. I always thought I'd go for English, but lately I keep thinking about how much I like that upper elementary age group as well as the idea of working with the same group of kids all day. On the other hand, I'm good with teenagers, and I majored in English and love the subject matter.

    So, how did you decide?

    And, on a related note, is it difficult to switch once in the field?
     
  2.  
  3. LetsDoSomeMath

    LetsDoSomeMath Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 16, 2010

    For me, it was something I just knew. I always knew I wanted to work with middle school kids.

    During my time in college- we had to do practicum hours in different grade levels-- and through that, it confirmed that middle school was for me.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,870
    Likes Received:
    1,374

    Jul 16, 2010

    I am not good with little kids. I also didn't really have an interest in anything other than English. I couldn't imagine having to teach multiple subjects and keep the same kids all day long.

    I did a secondary English program. I did teach high school English for two years, and I did enjoy it. Then I took a middle school job when my job was eliminated due to schedule changes. I found that I really loved middle school. I'm still teaching my subject, and not little kids. I heard horror stories about middle school, but I love it.
     
  5. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,030
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jul 16, 2010

    It all depends on where you will be most comfortable. I would say that means the curriculum you would feel the most successful with and the age group. I knew from the beginning that 3-5th garders were the ages of kids I worked the best with. Very glad I settled in at 4th grade.
     
  6. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 16, 2010

    Big kids scare me! Haha.

    I also know I had a major attitude 5th grade on... just like many other kids. I wouldn't want to deal with all those attitudes!
     
  7. Southern JC

    Southern JC Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jul 16, 2010

    I chose secondary because I knew I would do better working with older children. However, I do remember feeling like you are now. So, I did some subbing in elementary, middle, and high school. After that experience, I knew the right decision for me was secondary.
     
  8. GApeach6274

    GApeach6274 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 16, 2010

    I started out...

    in special education, but I knew I eventually wanted general education. I had no clue of a grade level or subject. To be more "marketable" I added several areas. I am certified in P-5, all subjects, middle grades language arts, social studies, and reading, and high school English. The only thing that I was certain of, and still am, is that I would not do well with very little ones.

    As for adding areas, in my state, if you have a clear and renewable certificate, all you have to do is take a test to add on a new field. There has been talk about changing this over the years. You should check the rules in your state.
     
  9. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 16, 2010

    I fully intended to teach middle school, but since I graduated in December, I did a lot of subbing January-May. I subbed public and private, K-8. (I did one straight week in Kindergarten, which was daunting! Talk about having to stay on your toes every moment of the day!) I was told that my son's private high school was always looking for subs, so I covered there a few times, too.

    It seems like most teachers I've talked to just know that they prefer younger or older students. I'm glad I subbed in high school before I automatically looked for a middle school position, because if I hadn't, I would not have found the place that I think of as "home."
     
  10. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Messages:
    1,857
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jul 16, 2010

    I teach elementary right now, but I am also certified in vocal music through grade 12. I love both of them, but elementary usually has more open positions than music. But I was willing to take any job offered! I've found out that I usually love whatever I end up doing.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,055
    Likes Received:
    1,878

    Jul 17, 2010

    Way back when, when I got my qualifications, I only wanted to teach very little ones. After being at home for 10 years with my own children, and taking whatever I could get when I returned to teaching, I learned that I really enjoyed the older students. A couple of summers ago, I got additional qualifications to teach up to grade 10 English, although I can't see myself moving to high school. I think, for now, I have found myself at home with grade 7 and 8 students.
     
  12. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 17, 2010

    Haha, LITTLE kids scare me!

    My degree is in English, so that pretty much settled content area and grade levels for me. I've taught MS and HS and right now I prefer middle. They're young enough to still be a little silly and a little needy in class; I still clearly remember the horror of puberty and the discovery of a social life, so I can relate to their issues; and I always remind myself that it's just the hormones talking. I have to admit, though; the 9th grade curriculum is my favorite to teach.
     
  13. SashaBear

    SashaBear Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    To answer your question about switching once in a grade level, I believe you have to go back to school and earn another bachelors or possibly earn a masters. Check your state laws and ask your college. If you are really unsure, think about double majoring.
     
  14. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    We are always joking around with different grade levels, not knowing how they do it. It's nice that the teachers for every age group is appreciated. Even our 4th/5th grade teachers will say, "I don't know how you deal with the runny noses, untied shoes, poking, etc."

    Every teacher has that environment where they feel comfortable... and once they are outside of that comfort zone, it's scary!

    I normally have fantastic behavior management. But, I did the 4th grade afterschool program this year and was terrified. I'm sure they could sense that and walked all over me. I know that I am in the right age group for me! Plus, I love how loved I feel by my students everyday. I have a student from this past year that has come up to give me a hug everytime he sees me in summer school. Even if he is sitting at his desk and sees me passing in the hall, he runs out into the hall to give me a hug. They can be so sweet :p
     
  15. mrduck12

    mrduck12 Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    One day subbing in an elementary (3rd grade) classroom made my mind up for me!! Wasn't that the environment and the kids weren't fun, they were a blast. Just the energy level was way beyond what I felt I could muster day to day.

    I've since found what I feel to be my niche by teaching mostly seniors. There is a dynamic there that I truly love having with that age of student.
     
  16. LMT

    LMT Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    I went into teaching thinking I would LOVE the little ones...WRONG!!

    I have four kids of my own, so it wasn't that I didn't LIKE little kids...just didn't enjoy being in a classroom with them all day.

    I taught 5th for three years and I still wanted to go a little higher and so I am moving to middle school next year!! (I've been working on taking classes and adding secondary to my license).

    I don't think middle school kids have "attitudes"...they are just in a really awkward stage. I love that they get your jokes and sarcasm.

    I'm always thankful that someone has the patience to teach the little ones!!
     
  17. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,055
    Likes Received:
    1,878

    Jul 17, 2010

    This is exactly how I feel!
     
  18. OedipaMaas

    OedipaMaas Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    I graduated from college in '05 so I'd say it's a little late for that!
     
  19. OedipaMaas

    OedipaMaas Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences. Right now, I'm thinking I'd like to get certificated in both elementary and secondary English and keep my options open; I'm just not sure whether I should go to school for the single-subject and add the multiple-subject on or vice versa.

    When I was in college, I taught middle-school English in an Upward Bound summer program. My students were rising 6th-graders, and I loved that age group. I found it really fascinating to teach kids who, cognitively, are just starting to get the hang of more abstract levels of thought than they were previously used to. I loved that things like symbols and foreshadowing were fresh to them and kind of blew their minds.

    Until recently, I'd just assumed I'd get my credential in secondary English. I majored in English in college, and I like high-schoolers well enough that it just seemed like the thing to do. Then I got a job for this coming year teaching in an elementary school's after-school program, and I find myself so excited about the idea of working with younger kids. I don't feel totally comfortable with the idea of the five and six-year-olds, but the fourth and fifth graders seem like so much fun to teach. In some ways, I guess, I see the prep work for upper elementary as more varied and creative than for high school in that there's the chance, in elementary, to do experiments and projects and create a whole little world in your classroom. On the other hand, I like the high school English subject matter a lot, plus I only have one subtest to go on that CSET.

    I don't have to decide for another few months (though I do need to get cracking on the multiple subjects exam if I choose elementary) and this job will let me see how much I really like working in an elementary school all day. It's really interesting to hear other teacher's experiences and perspectives on this.
     
  20. histonfan

    histonfan Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    i work better with younger children. im a teenager at the moment and its quite hard i think teching my age group.
     
  21. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    913
    Likes Received:
    30

    Jul 17, 2010

    I had an absolutely FABULOUS professor for one of my first education courses. He often talked about the practical aspect of the teaching profession and I took a lot of good information out of that course. One of the many things he said that stuck with me was, "If you can't go into the classroom in a good mood everyday for 180 days a year, DON'T go into elementary school teaching because the students WON'T understand."

    I knew I couldn't do that, so I didn't.

    The only flaw in my plan was that I didn't foresee the maturity level of the secondary students plummeting to the point where THEY don't understand when any teacher isn't in the best of moods on a given day. (LOL!)
     
  22. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Messages:
    3,231
    Likes Received:
    66

    Jul 17, 2010

    I work best with the younger ones... that being said, I'm hoping I get a middle school job that I applied for... really you take what you can get! (Job opening closed on Friday, so hopefully I'll hear on Monday.)

    While I've had some experience with Middle School, I've never "taught" a middle school class, (actually, that's not true, when I did behaviour intervention last year, I was asked to cover one teacher's classes when they went on grade eight over night year-end trip - It ended up being a really nice time... maybe it won't be so bad.)
     
  23. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    321

    Jul 17, 2010

    I didn't get a choice where I was placed last year as a volunteer aide or where I would be placed this year as a resident teacher, so I'm totally winging it. I have experience with mostly 3rd-5th, although I worked with some K-2 kids last year and did observations there.

    I asked to teach 4th but they gave me 2nd! :eek: I'm nervous but excited. The only grade I really couldn't stand was K. I think I'd make it work anywhere else. You just have to go with your gut.
     
  24. milteachwife

    milteachwife Rookie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2010
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 17, 2010

    What exactly do you like about middle school students? (Yes, I know students are human, but this magic line exist somehow.) Is this one of those things like cats or dogs? There are many more openings in middle school in my area than HS or ELE ED. This has really stopped me in my tracks. In an interview the Dean of the middle school said expect to be on YouTube and expect that you won't be able to enforce the cell phone policy. He said there will be kids that have eaten (except at school) for a week but come back to school with a new iPhone. My own kids are all under 8 and I just can't wrap my mind around this. I want to be able to teach any age group. Please give me some insight.
     
  25. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,055
    Likes Received:
    1,878

    Jul 18, 2010

    - they "get" when I am being sarcastic
    - they have wonderful senses of humour (they make me laugh every day!)
    - you can have deep conversations about world issues
    - they read interesting books (that I enjoy!)
    - they can write beautiful, sophistocated pieces
    - they are (reasonably) independent
    - they don't (usually) tattle
    - you get a glimpse of what they will be like as adults
    - they still like to have fun
    - they still love to please their teacher and will be fiercely loyal to you if they know that you are on your side
    - they drop in to talk, "just because"
    - they are little kids in big, clumsy bodies
    - they have strong opinions about right and wrong
    - you always know exactly where you stand with them
    - they keep you current with what is going on--music, TV, movies, etc.
    - they keep you thinking!

    I love my job and I like to have fun--middle school age gives me all of that!
     
  26. demijasmom

    demijasmom Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 18, 2010

    I knew I wanted to work with younger kids even before I entered college. THe younger kids think that I'm the Queen of the Nile. I never want to teach middle school students. Can't stand middle school students. I didn't like middle schools students when I was in middle school and I have two middle school daughters of my own. NO thank you.
     
  27. LMT

    LMT Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 18, 2010

    EXACTLY! And yet at the same time...the still really need you!

    And yes...treat them with respect and they'll respect you.
     
  28. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,055
    Likes Received:
    1,878

    Jul 18, 2010

    Middle school kids can think this as well. (And when they are trying to butter you up they tell you that you look like Megan Fox--even when you look more like Mem Fox!)
     
  29. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jul 18, 2010

    i love the gifts I get from younger students.

    Totally kidding.

    I will someday move to upper. For now, I chose younger - probably because I had a young one of my own and wanted him to go to school where I taught. Also, I fell in the love with the innocence when I was observing the young ones. And being able to introduce them to a new author or book and being htere when they hear a new book for the first time is priceless.
     
  30. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,256
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jul 18, 2010

    I feel that because of my strong personality that I could not manage jr high/high school kids. Also, I did NOT want to put up with the b.s. that goes on in high school (drama for example). I picked elementary because they are still sponges wanting to soak up the information and i knew I would get more respect at that level.
     
  31. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    7,507
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jul 18, 2010

    I just knew I liked younger kids. Between babysitting and my practicums in prek-3rd, I knew I'd never want to go higher. My dad, on the other hand, only wanted older...he taught middle school and hs kids. He's visited my rooms since retiring and says he doesn't know how I do it! :lol:
     
  32. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 18, 2010

    High schoolers are pretty good at this too :lol:

    And Mem Fox - one of my favorite authors to read to my girls when they were little. Seeing this name my heart go warm and fuzzy - thanks MrsC :love:
     
  33. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jul 18, 2010

    IMO - they need you more. Middle and High schoolers can't have enough postive role models in thier lives :thumb:
     
  34. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,909
    Likes Received:
    29

    Jul 18, 2010

    I knew through subbing. I think everyone know their own personalities. I have great respect for jr high teachers because I could never be one of them. I think that that 3rd would be the highest grade that I could teach. If I was called to sub 4th or 5th grade, most of the time I would tell them that I was not interested in the class. My former mentor is a 5th grade teacher and when she would come in to observe me, she would always say that she could never teach the little ones. After subbing jr high, I told my ex that we would have to be destitute for me to work in the jr high setting. After working with them, I was afraid to go to high school. There is a special area for every one of us and we have to respect each other for our ability to work with the ones that the others could not.
     
  35. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,084
    Likes Received:
    64

    Jul 18, 2010

    There was never a doubt in my mind that I prefer Elementary school. I was wrong at first because I thought I'd only want k-3 and was going to get a degree in Early Childhood education. It's quite the opposite. Through subbing, student teaching, and the short time I taught 5th grade I realize I love the older grade levels.

    I love being able to talk to them and give them examples about what they will see in college & beyond.


    This is why I love 5th grade, and 4th and 3rd graders are like this to an extent also. I'd teach 6th grade in an Elementary school only.

    I've learned through subbing that I really don't have the super-duper patience for kinder and 1st grade. Kids crying because someone copied their name off their paper?? Wooh, it was rough, lol.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Natasha Wilkinson,
  2. vickilyn,
  3. Iris1001
Total: 314 (members: 3, guests: 287, robots: 24)
test