Is it any easier to be a college teacher over a high school teacher?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by BigWilly52488, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    I bring this up, because I have a first year teaching job in high school and I can't seem tone down the rigor of content I teach my students. I have students failing left and right and I have only been on the job for about 6 weeks. It seems like I have so many issues when it comes to my classes that correcting enough of them might be too tall of an order for me. Correct me if I'm wrong about college teaching, but what I would say is that there is less of certain things to worry about as a college professor as opposed to a high school teacher. For one, you don't really have to worry about classroom management since college students pick and choose when their classes are and are paying for their education. Being the personality type that I am, I find it hard for me to develop the attitude necessary to handle the behaviors of a high school students. Doesn't mean I'm giving up, but what I'm saying is that I feel my disposition towards students wouldn't really lend itself to managing behaviors of a classroom. My personality isn't ever going to change, so doing high school may not be for me.

    I would say another thing about teaching high school that might make it harder than college is that lectures are more of a routine in college whereas high school everything must be planned using more of a student centered approach. No longer is it as easy as throwing an inquiry lecture together and powerpointing high school students to death. This is really my issue and I just don't know any other way to maintain student centered learning. Sure I may throw together a good idea here or there, but it stems mostly from the fact that is the only good ideas I have. Since I consider myself merely average in my content knowledge, I find that lectures work better for me than having students do engaging activities.

    Also I think with college, it's easier to manage your time and you never have administrator walkthroughs that are evaluating your performance each month. You know what needs to be done and it's easier to pace the material you cover since each class only meets on specified days.

    Is any of what I'm saying true at all or am I fabricating this all? I feel like I work much harder than the average person, but I feel having a learning disability will hamper my ability to grow as a teacher. I don't apply advice well and I might be better suited for a college teaching job since there is less in the way of invasive teaching strategies that must be incorporated.
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think if your content knowledge is mediocre you'll have a hard time keeping a job.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    1. You only get to be a lecturer if you are outstanding in your field in most colleges or universities.
    2. Even if you get a job, it pays considerably less, since you lecture a few hours a day or week. Most of your income would come if you are a researcher.
    3. Even college teaching is moving away from lecture based to inquiry based in many colleges.
    4. You are still accountable to admin in college.
    5. If you have only average content knowledge, you will not get hired as a college lecturer. You need way more knowledge than you would if you were just a High School teacher.
    6. Classroom management issues still exist in college.

    It sounds like you just need to suck it up and get professional development to help you with development of engaging lessons, classroom management, and brush up on your content knowledge rather than trying to settle for bad teaching. If students don't want a bad High School teacher, they sure as heck don't want a bad college professor.
     
  5. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    There is no teaching job that is easy.
     
  6. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Adjunct pay is low. I make much more now than I did when I taught adjunct. I taught a subject I absolutely LOVED but the students were mostly there because the class was mandatory for their major. If I could make a livable wage I would do it in a heart beat... do you live in a community where you could do both HS and college and get your foot in the door? If so, that is an option. Maybe one evening class. Just to see if you and the university like each other. And to get an idea of the pay. If you have an end degree (doctorate for example) then you might get a professor position. It's gotten very competitive.
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I see two big things here that need to be addressed... your content knowledge is only average, and your classroom management needs to be weak. If you want teaching (of any sort) to be your career, you need to work on both of these. Classroom management is probably the higher immediate need. Content knowledge is extremely important too, but you can at least tread water if you always stay one or two steps ahead of the class. No can do if your classroom management is weak.

    What do you use for classroom management, and what specifically are you having trouble with?

    If your content knowledge is only average, take thoughts of teaching college out of your head completely. It won't happen, and it will never happen, unless your content knowledge is very strong.
     
  8. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Most of us were pretty lousy our first year and many of us aren't specialized in what we teach (ok, I speak for me at least )- My content knowledge was maybe below average when I started. Many years later, I have improved at least enough to feel like I can do this. Hey, maybe my students are even learning a bit. ...or more. It gets easier and you get better.
    Having said that - does your school have a mentor teacher for you? If not, is there anybody you can request that of? or any teacher at your credential program that can at the very least act as a sounding board?

    Look at your lessons after you teach - what is working and what is not and WHY. Be honest with yourself. did you have to do student teaching in your credential program? try thinking of this semester as more of that. Continually try to learn how you can tweak and grow your lessons to match your students. They aren't acting out because they are mean. Your students might not be clear on what is expected of them. And be kind to yourself at the same time you are being critical of your teaching. When you get home, make sure you are eating well and exercising. and sleeping. and keep posting.
     
  9. Ms.Blank

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    You owe it to the colleges students to NOT teach until you are far above average in your content area. At the college level, students are paying for classes. Why should they pay for a class that they could essentially be teaching themselves via internet research, if the instructor's knowledge is just average? The students will see right through you, anyway. My college had an instructor like this. The students all signed petitions, wrote letters, and met with the dean to get this professor out of the school. It worked.

    I believe that you owe it to your high school students to gain knowledge in your content area, as well.

    I don't care HOW old the students are, though, just because someone is in college does NOT mean they want to sit through a lecture every single class, so stop thinking that since all you want to do is lecture, college is a good fit for you. That is one cycle that needs to be broken, in my opinion. My best and favorite college professor had very engaging lessons.

    Do you enjoy teaching? Do you enjoy the connections you make with students? This is what draws so many K-12 teachers into education. With college, it is harder to form these connections and bonds. Not impossible, but it's just different. College students are much more independent. When I was a teaching assistant in college (I did one semester in a sophomore-level class and one semester in a senior-level class), I tried so hard to connect with my students. It was hard. I find much more enjoyment subbing K-8th, to be completely honest, even if some of the things about teaching college were much easier (classroom management is the huge one that comes to mind).
     
  10. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    I think part of the reason my content knowledge is average has to do with the fact that I think a learning disability is preventing me from remembering things especially abstract things. It seems like this hurting me not just for a teaching job, but any job I would get. I do seem to comprehend things alright, but my issue is if I read a paragraph about something, I forgot pretty much everything I read in the paragraph. It's very frustrating to me, because I have to work really hard to maintain even average content knowledge.

    My question to you or anyone else is should I get tested for a skills test to see where my strengths and weaknesses are? Should I just considering giving up teaching science? The thing is my strongest area of earth science that I know very well is meteorology and stuff with earthquakes and volcanos and such. It seems these are the areas I most enjoy with science, but the other areas not as much except for a select few topics. The problem is would be finding a teaching job for meteorology since it's pretty rare to find a job that just requires you to only teach that.

    I try to tell myself all the time that I need to get through this and accept my level of capability.

    Going back to the idea of teaching college though would probably be for a different subject than I'm currently teaching. I've always been the best at math and I do enjoy science, but I think the benefit to teaching math over science is that there isn't really much in the way of research in math and it's really all about being able to do a problem. I think teaching math is easier in the sense you can manage the type of things you would like them to learn and just how much of a detailed problem you would like them to do. Science, in contrast, is harder to skip over things you need to teach them because a whole chapter can cover a topic you might not know much about.

    What do you suggest? Should I rethink my career and get tested? Any more advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Okay, so you've said you're teaching, OP. In what licensure area?
     
  12. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    To be exact earth and environmental studies. I'm certified to teach astronomy, geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Currently I'm teaching geoscience, which is a blend of these subject areas.
     
  13. bluegill

    bluegill Rookie

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    I think it's a lot harder to develop a good lecture than it is to come up with a few instructional strategies that are student-centered. And it's a lot easier to manage a class when the focus isn't always on you!
     
  14. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Teaching college is very difficult, and also very competitive to get into. Yes, I would agree that classroom management is much less of an issue in college, but college professors need much, much more content knowledge than high school teachers. If youi know the content well, it may be easier to design a lecture, but it's definitely not easy!
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    earth and environmental science is the least abstract science course I know. If you're struggling with content knowledge in that course, you really won't do well with teaching math at a college level.

    Math for college students IS abstract.
     
  16. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    :spitwater:

    Please, tell me the name of the highest level math class you've taken?
     
  17. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    :agreed:
     
  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    :wow: I really don't know what to say.
    All of these things should have been addressed before you became a teacher.
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My husband briefly taught geology on the college level (hence why I refer to him as Rockhubby). He had interactive labs that had his students recreating glacial drifts and identifying minerals based on observation. He almost never gave straight lectures unless the class truly needed the scaffolding. There was a moment where he considered trying to get his secondary education certification, but we both nixed that idea. He is TERRIBLE with younger students.

    It takes certain blends of talent to be successful in any field, and in any given level of that field.
     
  20. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    I've taken calculus A and I did get an A on it even though it requires you to think a lot. I'm aware there are even harder courses like analytical geometry and such, but I would have to say while they there is some amount of research in math, it's definitely not like science.
     
  21. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    And you know this because you have experience in researching both upper-level mathematics and science?
     
  22. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    I guess so, but what exactly is your basis for this? It's weird, because I found myself never really needing to study for math much at all in college with the exception of calculus A, but that's only because it was brand new stuff I was learning. My mind for some reason doesn't seem register long term memory of written information, but seems to do quite fine with numbers. I guess it's because I found math to be like a puzzle and that I looked at it as more of a game for me, then something considered abstract. My guess is people who find math abstract are the ones that can't seem to generate much interest in it mostly because a lot of it isn't really relatable to them or doesn't apply much in any way, shape, or form to their lives as far as most careers they could take.

    The abstract stuff from earth science for me comes from the chemistry aspect of minerals. Going into the crystal structure of minerals and the different chemical formulas minerals can take can be very abstract. I agree with you that most of earth science isn't abstract, but anything that has chemistry tied to it in some way can be abstract.

    In the end I guess I chose science to teach, mostly for my immense interest in the weather and earthquakes. But I guess in the end it doesn't really matter unless everything about earth science interests you equally as much.
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    You do realize that calculus is considered elementary/foundational mathematics, right?
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Good heavens. "Abstract" is not a synonym for "difficult" or "uncongenial".
     
  25. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Math is divided into two general categories: finite and abstract. Abstract math is an actual category, not just something we're calling "difficult" math.
     
  26. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    Yes, but there is a fair amount of people who do still struggle with it. Doesn't mean I'm not aware there are much harder courses, but what I am saying is maybe my interpretation of abstract could be different than the average person who does the same course. The average person may take calculus and consider it abstract even if they end up doing well in it. Although I needed to do about an average amount of studying for the course, I never really considered even the hardest parts of calculus A abstract.

    I do seem to think a lot more quicker doing math than science, which makes me question why I put myself through hell teaching something that takes me abnormally long to prepare for even though I enjoy science a lot.
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    BigWilly,

    Please define "abstract" for us so we all know what you mean because as Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride would say, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ".


    On a side note, what's with the handle name?
     
  28. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    In can in a way be used in unison with those terms though. Difficulty isn't actually a synonym for "abstract," but it can be used in conjunction with those words. If someone gives more in the way of abstract examples rather than concrete real life examples, that can be looked at by some as more difficult to understand. Like for example someone might give an analogous example where they were showing why the eye wall of a hurricane was the fastest spinning part. They may use the concept of gravity and how the planets closer to the sun spin faster due to gravity. To some people that would be considered an abstract example or harder to visualize because the concept of gravity is involved. In contrast, if you used a figure skater pulling her arms in that allows her to spin faster to explain why the center of a hurricane spins the fastest, that might be looked at as more in the way of a concrete way to visualize it. Again I know I made it look in my posts that abstract was the same as "difficulty," but used in conjunction with might be a better way of putting it.
     
  29. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    But you weren't using it in unison with the word abstract. You were using it as a synonym, and doing so in multiple ways.

    Abstract math can be difficult for some people. That is using the word difficult in unison with the word abstract. However, abstract math is abstract math, difficult or not.
     
  30. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Okay, since you're not grasping the difference between elementary and abstract, I'll show you an example with something you should be familiar with: the integral.

    In calculus, you may have defined the definite integral as the limit as n goes to infinity of the sum of the area of all the subintervals (n) multiplied by their equal widths (delta x).

    Now what if I said that we need to define a partition (a set of points [a,b] such that a = x_0 < x_1 < x_2 < x_n-1 < x_n = b), apply it to some function f over a closed interval, define the n-th Riemann sum with respect to our partition P ( R(f,P) = infinite sum ) so we can generalize the upper and lower sums ( U(f, P) and L(f, P) respectively), ensure our lower sum is increasing alongside refinements of the partitions and that the upper sum is decreasing with respect to those refinements, define our upper ( inf{ U(f,P): partition}, sup{ L(f,P): partition} ), check to make sure that our function f is Riemann integrable ( inf{ U(f,P): partition} = sup{ L(f, P): partition} ), and if it is, then we have our definite integral over some closed set of points [a,b] on our function f.

    That is the difference between elementary math and pure/abstract math.
     
  31. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Teaching at the college level requires not only an extremely good knowledge of your content but also the ability and schema to connect your content area to pretty much every other content area. This is my favorite part of teaching college level courses. We are still evaluated, but only about once a year. One of the best things is that we are forbidden by law to divulge any information whatsoever to parents or spouses about how a student is doing in our classes; we are not even supposed to admit we have ever heard that student's name before. I am absolutely and passionately in love with teaching at the college level. There are no words. . . .
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Some people struggle with basic arithmetic. That doesn't make arithmetic abstract either. Abstract has a definite meaning, and calculus doesn't qualify. There's really nothing to discuss here. It's a "it is or it isn't" type of thing, and calculus is quite simply *not* an abstract math. The level of difficulty has nothing to do with the designation. Actually, I find certain computational mathematics courses far more difficult than certain abstract courses. I find some of the abstract topics to be far easier than some of the computational topics (I'm looking at you, differential equations!).

    Foundational math is everything through multi-variable calculus. Advanced/applied computational math includes things like differential equations, linear algebra (though linear algebra starts bridging towards some abstract concepts), discrete mathematics, and mathematical statistics (among others). Abstract Mathematics includes three basic branches: Modern (Abstract) Algebra, Analysis and Topology.

    This whole discussion brings one thing into crystal clear focus: your lack of knowledge about what math even is, let alone the content of the subject, disqualifies you as a candidate for teaching math at the college level. I'd actually hesitate to hire you as a high school teacher. Maybe middle school, though that would be a stretch. I realize that probably sounds mean, but it would be wise of you to consider a completely different career path.
     
  33. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, my. "In conjunction with" and "in unison with" aren't synonyms either, "analogous example" makes no sense in the absence of a prior example for it to be analogous to, and "harder to visualize" is not necessarily an antonym of "concrete". (For the record, I can imagine circumstances in which I'd want to explain the skater's faster spin by drawing on the hurricane's eye as analogy.) In short, you still haven't made a very convincing case that you do understand the difference between abstractness and concreteness even in ordinary academic language, let alone the mathematical sense that MikeTeachesMath and mmswm have noted.
     
  34. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    This. Completely :thumb:
     
  35. BigWilly52488

    BigWilly52488 Rookie

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    So then what do people suggest I do? I mean any advice would be helpful. Should I quit teaching science immediately? Should I start over completely? I don't have the answers as to what I should do. I mean do know if I was successful at teaching I would enjoy it, but I guess that doesn't mean anything in the end if I don't have a great recall of things.
     

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