Discussion in 'General Education' started by Curious99, Mar 12, 2017.
Apr 7, 2017
Apr 8, 2017
I enjoyed teaching for the past five years, and it was something that I was passionate about. I've lost that passion, am burnt out and am leaving teaching, at least for a while.
That doesn't invalidate the good times I had though. But if you were to ask me personally, I wouldn't go into teaching as a career. I might have it as a back-up. (In many states it's really easy to get your credential and keep it, so you have a second career in your back pocket should you need one). I'm leaving for a couple of reasons:
1. The pay compared to other possible jobs you could get is usually very small (depending on the district and the subject you teach). I am leaving to become an engineer and hopefully make more money than I do now. I could survive on a teacher salary, but I can't do as much travel as I'd like to or the other things that I want to do to give me a fuller life. I don't know if I'd be able to support myself on a teacher's salary without the help of my boyfriend though (taking into account the cost of living in my particular state(s)), so if you're goal is to be self-sufficient, teaching may not be the way to go. A few districts in the country (I think, really only a handful) really do pay very well, but that pay is usually offset by high cost of living, and you only really get to the upper echelons of pay after teaching more than 20 years.
2. It is mentally and emotionally draining. Any kind of job where you have to care for the needs of highly emotional children, and over-protective parents is going to naturally drain your mental resources. I'm just tired of it. I'm a fairly introverted person to begin with, and I need a job where I don't have to be constantly "on" all the time. And it's not just dealing with the bratty kids that's draining, but even the awesome kids who are just emotionally needy. I have some students who are dependent on me to get them through bouts of depression and talk them down from suicide. They want to be around me 24/7 too. I love these kids but it's difficult.
3. Teachers are overworked. There is just too much to do constantly, and it never ends. You can work all day and still not be completely done with all of the responsibilities placed on you. This includes the normal responsibilities of teaching, grading, planning, and communicating, but it's become the norm now where administrators are now placing responsibilities which would normally be theirs (filling out mountains of paperwork for any behavior issues) or special ed teachers (filling out mountains of paperwork for special needs students) on teachers instead of hiring qualified personnel to take on those duties. Teachers are now doing the jobs of 3 people it feels like. It's gotten ridiculous, and most of my time isn't even spent doing the job I expected I would be doing and is instead putting out fires and filling out repetitive forms, or doing whatever the next new responsibility or "thing" is being passed down by the superintendent or the admin.
4. Teachers aren't appreciated or respected, both by administrators or parents, and they're definitely not appreciated by the country as a whole. This respect is continuing to diminish because of a growing mistrust of teachers spread by the media and a general distrust of anyone involved in education (a growing number of people think "education" is just code word for "liberalization" now, so many conservatives are against public education and more into homeschooling and charter schools). I'm done with the lack of respect. This leads to even more problems down the line, including parents not holding their kids accountable for their poor behavior and backing up the teacher at home, and in some cases even attacking and blaming the teacher defending their students' poor behavior. That's one of the main reasons I'm leaving teaching: parents who shouldn't be parents. The general climate and popular opinions around teaching is also likely to lead to the gutting of teachers unions, which would lead to salaries and benefits being cut as they already have in many red states, making teaching an even less viable option for supporting yourself in the future.
Working in education can be rewarding and there are many good interactions I've had with parents and students, but unfortunately the bad interactions overshadow the good and they are increasing, not diminishing. I blame the current political and social climate and norms of parenting, and the state that our leaders of public education have left us in. When I consider all of the things I listed above (I'm in a low-paying, emotionally draining job where I'm being simultaneously overworked and disrespected), I can tell that teaching is not for me. Some people see teaching as a crusade or something, and as some people said, they'd do this job for free. Not me. To me, this has always been a job. A job I enjoyed, but obviously not one worth all of the sacrifices I would have to be making. I might come back to teaching later in life (perhaps much later), and it was good while it lasted, but I think I've had enough of it until the tides change.
I have to agree with Peregrin when he says "no matter what you do it's never enough". I guess though it's like that with every job, but a little more in teaching. In sales, I guess you we could always sell more. In the office, we could always be more productive. Being a waiter/waitress, we could always be more attentive. I think we all have the ability to do most jobs, it just comes down to how we can handle it and what fits for us. I have quit teaching secondary school for a while like Peregrin above. I took about 4 years off teaching middle/high school and did adjunct teaching at a college. Of course it wasn't enough and I either lived at home with folks/roommates because it wasn't enough money and I enjoyed living at home. When I was teaching college, you were evaluated, told what you can do to improve, and pretty much left alone in a good way unless there was something that needed to be addressed. Of course, adjunct pay at a college in most cases is not enough to survive unless you are full time or have a second job. Where I work now, after five years I am pretty comfortable teaching high school math even though it's still stressful at times. If you can stick it out for the first 2 years, you will be good as long as you like teaching. Every job has it's ups and downs but teaching is definitely not for everyone. It all depends what you want to teach. If you are passionate, know other teachers who are positive, the energy radiates and you will feel positive. The pay can be good or bad. If you have a significant other, they will have to work, especially at first if your state/district starts out low. If you are single, and like to drink like me on the weekends, do yourself a favor and don't start out teaching in a small town where everybody knows everybody. You run in to students everywhere, everybody knows too much what you do. I don't mind running into students but sometimes I just wanted to get away from it all and the only way was either to stay at home or leave town for a weekend. Everybody knows what you buy and it drove me insane on my first teaching job. If you don't drink, married, and teach in a small Bible Belt town, then it fits. I'm Christian and all but the small towns, being single, and teaching were not for me and that's why I stopped for 4 years. It was also quite stressful as another reason.
I say go into teaching knowing that you will not become rich! Being a math teacher is probably the only job where I can go somewhere and talk talk talk about math ALL DAY and do math problems over and over again! I'm not being sarcastic either! I knew what I was walking into and I love what I'm doing... most of the kids don't have the same passion but they see mine! If you have that passion, do it!
It feels like I'm one of the very few ones thinks:
- admin and parents do respect and appreciate me
- the money I make is enough to live on (I get to go to Europe every other year with my daughter, travel and go away on most weekends, and I am a single parent)
- what I do is enough
- yes, kids can be tough, but in the end I can handle it
- I can't think of any other job (outside of education) at the moment where I would make the same money working for 184 days, which consist of only 6.75 hours. I used to make less than half of what I make now, worked 5 days a week, every week of the year, except for the 5-7 holidays off and 2 weeks of vacation.
- I have fun teaching. I have freedom in what I teach, it's not the same novel every single year. It is mentally stimulating, and I don't get bored. My brain is never on autopilot, and I like that.
I don't think you're one of the few. I think a lot of teachers enjoy what they do. And a lot of it REALLY does depend on where you teach. I think I could have gone at least a decade longer at my old school without burning out, but I don't want to spend the time searching for a place like that again (although they have graciously told me I'm always welcome back there any time). I had all of the things you mentioned: admin that backed me up, freedom to teach as I pleased, respect from others. That all disappeared at this new school that took away that freedom and treats teachers like employees at McDonald's and with very little trust and respect, and I feel like my old school was more of a unicorn than the norm.
The one constant though is change. My old admin is leaving my previous school and so I don't know if it would have had the same feel after she is gone anyway. And I had to move for my partner's job and there's always going to be life events that force you to change where you are.
I think it's a random toss-up about whether you're going to be in a school that you fit well with or one that is just caustic. Though I think our current sociopolitical climate is going to wear a lot of teachers thin, and the other comments I made about the view of teachers by the rest of the country is still true. Teachers are losing respect from everyone not in education. The key is getting an admin that will defend you against the attacks.
That said, it was also always in my life goals to do other things besides teaching anyway.
I have a lot of family members who have been teaching elementary and middle grades for decades. I'm wrapping up a degree program that will give me secondary math licensure, so your mileage may vary.
In any people-oriented profession, particularly in service professions like teaching, there has to be clearly defined boundaries. Truly, no one is wired or equipped to be on call 24/7, and teaching comes with that expectation.
The advice I have been given from my family members is that you have to accept your limitations and plan accordingly. You can't be 150 students' parent/therapist, and you can't force yourself to work to the bone forever. You're not going to be good at teaching if you're constantly working yourself into a lather or piling more work on yourself. You have to know when to say uncle.
All you can do is your best, OP. That can be an incredibly hard pill to swallow. I mean, there's an inherent guilt in saying no in teaching, I've found, and you need to be prepared to stick to your guns.
Some lessons you think will be life-changing flop. Some lessons you don't particularly like may be exactly what your students needed. You may have to take on a classroom management system that you're not a huge fan of in order to control some classrooms.
Ultimately, my relatives told me to be flexible, be honest about my limitations, and be the best I can be for the kids. Consult your doctor/therapist as needed. Take advantage of the sick day if you need it. Just recognize that you're human, and as long as you're doing the best that your human self can, that's all you can do.
Good luck OP.
I co-sign on this 1,000 times.
Apr 9, 2017
Teaching is not a job you do for the money or the 'holidays' or whatever. If you do it for any other reason than you have a passion for teaching, then you will crash and burn and not last long in this profession. This job is mentally, physically and emotionally taxing and you are invested in it no matter how much you claim you don't take work home. Even if you are on 6 figures (or not), at some stage, the money won't be enough to keep you in the job. When you have to deal with students who don't give a damn, parents who couldn't care less, a management who couldn't be less supportive, and this is your outlook for the whole year, then no money will be worth it. It's times like these when your passion keeps you going. A moment in a whole year when a student comes up to you to thank you for making a difference, for caring, for making him/her love a subject more, for helping him/her to understand something they didn't understand before etc., that's what keeps us going. If you don't have a passion, if you are in this for the money, then these moments mean nothing.
Yes we need to pay bills and what not, but just looking at it from a monetary point of view is too superficial.
On some days, the subject matter takes a back burner when other situations arise. For instance, last year, a 6th grade student of mine just up-and-left the school during 1st period because her mother had to move her family out of state for protection. This caught all of her friends off-guard and a large number of students were crying. Compassion, love of children, sympathy, empathy... all these things are us who we are..... By 5th period, one particular student was still very distraught and the whole class consoled him. These things aren't taught to you in college..... Also last year, I had 2 girls who were sent to therapy because one tried to kill herself by drinking GermX and another was cutting herself.... These types of occurrences are what keeps us in the classroom.... This year, in a totally different district and grade-level, students and their personal problems and issues still happen..... I've had a girl tell me she was raped by an ex-boyfriend. Sad female students who have recently broken up with someone they cared about.... A male student telling me that his mother once told him, "I wish you were never born." Part of being a teacher is caring. And you might be the only adult that a student can talk to..... That's what I do... I teach math and I love my students.....
Research your state before deciding. Teaching is quite different in other areas of the nation.
I will never make six figures. Ever. It's just not possible to make that much as a teacher where I live. Should I become a superintendent, I might have a shot at that, but I loathe the thought of becoming an administrator so that's not going to happen.
Some teachers on here have shorter contract days than I do. My contract is 42.5 hour weeks. I typically work a minimum of 50 hours a week.
I also have about six weeks off in the summer.
I love what I do and do not want to do anything else. If you have a passion for teaching, then teach. It's a hard job that is sometimes appreciated and sometimes not. There are days that are really tough but some are filled with joy. I love that it's never the same.
Given the current conditions in education, I would only consider it if you are truly very passionate about teaching and don't have any other interests that you want to pursue. Yes, conditions are great in some places, but keep in mind that it also tends to be extremely difficult to get a job in those places. In my home city teachers make a very nice salary for the COL. However, there are also literally an average of 4,000-5,000 teachers applying for a single job. You may as well be trying to win the lottery! Everyone I graduated with either moved to get a job or ended up having to go into a different field if they were unwilling to move.
In my current city, I don't think most people were predicting even 10 years ago how much the COL was going to go up. It is insane how much more expensive it gets every year, especially with housing. I've lived here four years and pay almost double in rent what I did when I first moved here (and my first apartment was much nicer than what I have now). Teacher salaries haven't kept up with that at all; in fact most (all?) districts have had freezes or salary cuts over the past several years. My point is, things can change quickly. I wouldn't advise anyone to go into teaching unless they're extremely passionate about it and it's truly the only thing they can see themselves doing.
Apr 10, 2017
That's nothing more than grandstanding and posturing. I've never seen anyone who proposes teachers work for free or just above minimum wage do so themselves—they are always the privileged few skilled at exploiting the labor and resources of others to their own advantage.
When millionaires and billionaires cut teacher salaries "for the children," it's time to head out and take care of your own.
My students are "my own" and that's why I'm dang good at my job and absolutely love it.
I honestly can't imagine myself doing anything else other than being an educator. My bf lovingly refers to me as "The Mayor of (insert name of town)" because no matter where we go, I am approached by students and/or parents/families of students. He says I'm always shaking hands and kissing babies! LOL! In all honesty, though, I do give out quite a few handshakes or hugs when I see former students. It brings me great joy to hear about their successes.
This has already started to happen...for-profit online charters exist where teachers are made into glorified grading machines and paid peanuts compared to local public schools. I used to work for one until I realized it was basically a giant scam to steal funding from local public schools and fatten the CEO's wallet.
Apr 11, 2017
But anything you run like a business is inherently better for 'merica , right? There's no way profit would turn anyone against their fellow man!
I wanted to believe this (the second part) until I started to see things for what they were.