So very torn between elementary and secondary...need some advice.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by socaligirl, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. socaligirl

    socaligirl Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2009

    Hopefully I can keep this short, so bear with me. :)

    I register for pre-credential classes on Tuesday and have absolutely NO clue whether to make the decision to teach elementary or secondary school. I have a degree in English, so if I taught single subject, it would be that, but I'm also interested in teaching elementary school. I just CAN'T decide.

    My main PRO for elementary is that the material seems more exciting to me. However, I get along really really well with older kids, which is my PRO for secondary.

    My main CON for elementary is that there seem to be NO elementary school jobs in my area...maybe not even many in the entire state (California). My CON for secondary is that I don't know if I want to grade major essays for the rest of my life.

    I guess I'm just looking for a little insight or a different point of view on the major pro's and con's of each would be...or some advice on making the decision.

    I am so bad at making life decisions.
     
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  3. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2009

    I taught private elementary school for 2 years.
    I'm getting ready to start year 5 of public high school (11 and 12 English).

    I LOVE teaching HS. The students are so great.

    As far as grading essays for the rest of your life ... the grading is very time consuming, but it's just a part of the job. You learn to make it manageable and you learn that sometimes an entire weekend will be devoted to grading with minimal sleep ... you just do it.

    Have you considered middle school?
     
  4. socaligirl

    socaligirl Rookie

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    Thank you for your response. I guess when it comes to thinking about grading...do you feel like you have enough free time to enjoy your daily life? I don't like listening to the opinion of people who dislike their job, but the only English teachers I know say, "Don't do it. You will become a slave to grading".

    Do you find that you are still able to have a decent work/life balance?
     
  5. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Well ... I met, dated and married my husband while being a HS English teacher. I have a great group of friends that I could meet up with during the week/weekend as long as I planned a day or 2 in advance. I talk to my mom on the phone almost every night. My husband and I cook/eat dinner together every night and do dinner out and things on the weekend. I walk the dogs every evening. I can go to evening school events (e.g. football games).

    What you are not reading about is "my children." My husband and I don't plan on having kids ... not because of my job, but because we just don't want kids. But, many of my coworkers have kids and survive teaching HS English.

    Work can take over my life, not because it is THAT demanding, but because one can get so dedicated to the students and the classroom.

    The first 2 years were rough (not in a bad way), but I think I have a good balance of work and "life" now. But, I am a teacher through and through ... I love what I do. If I didn't like my job I would probably complain that it was too consuming.
     
  6. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    In no way whatsoever do I feel like a slave to grading.
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Check and see how easy it is to add on one or the other. For example: i graduated college certified in Elementary K-5 and ESOL K-12. I wanted to add on secondary English. All I needed to do was pass three tests. As a bonus, because I was a sociology minor, I have enough social studies credits to add on social studies as well, making me more versatile! It could be possible to do both fairly easily. In doing elementary and working in it for a few years, I discovered that i am much better suited to high school.
     
  8. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Aug 2, 2009

    I've taught elementary for 4 years, but have a reading specialist so I could teach reading all the way through high school. I never felt like I belonged somewhere particular and was considering going up to 5th grade this year. So, I spent some time in a 5th grade classroom. I'm so glad I did. That was the first time that I felt I actually *knew* what level I wanted to teach for sure.

    So............my suggestion is volunteer at elementary and high schools or at least go in and talk to a principal and spent some time there. I don't even think it will take a long time. You'll get a feel pretty quick fr what your comfortable with and not.

    Good luck
     
  9. Mrs. Q

    Mrs. Q Cohort

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    I think you should try to get some classroom experience before deciding for sure -- substitute, volunteer, whatever is appropriate for you in your area. I was torn, too, but after a lot of hours with both ages, I realized that emotionally, I was much better suited for high school students. Does your program require any classroom observation time early in your program? That might be another opportunity for you to "check out" both age groups. I think it's so important to be with the age that you ENJOY, above all the rest.
     
  10. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    You can always get certified for both levels. I'm certified to teach high school English but I doubt I will ever use it. All I had to do was take one extra test.
     
  11. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    You could always get certified at both levels, but if you get certified in K-6, you can teach in the intermediate setting. Fourth grade students are mature for the most part, and then you could also have the options of fifth and sixth grade. Some teachers certified in K-6 can teach Reading or Language Arts at the middle school.

    I agree about getting in the classrooms, too, and volunteering. That's what convinced me that I would either teach fourth or fifth grade.
     
  12. greenbean6

    greenbean6 Companion

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    Aug 2, 2009

    In California it is very easy to be certified in both a Single Subject area as well Multiple Subject. You just need to choose which credential program you want (single or multiple) then just add a reading/writing methods class for the area you did not choose and pass the required CSET. For example, my BA is in History but I chose to enroll in a multiple subject credential program then added a secondary reading methods class, and I passed the Multiple Subject and Single Subject Social Science CSETs... which qualified me for both my credentials. I was just awarded both preliminary credentials yesterday and it didn't take any extra time. If you do decide to go this route I'd suggest completing a multiple subject program, it will better prepare you to pass the RICA, which is also a requirement for the Multiple Subject Credential. In addition I found the MS classes to be much more beneficial than the single subject classes, and have talked to others who feel the same.

    I think you should substitute at both levels to get an idea of which one you like better. That's what I did and I definitely came away preferring the elementary level. I doubt I'll ever use my Single Subject, but it's nice to have just in case. Good luck!

    Sorry if this was confusing!
     
  13. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    My question is the same as KU, have you thought about middle school?

    I would also try to volunteer at a school, or do some observation hours at all levels to see which ones you click most with. You don't become a secondary ed teacher to grade papers, you do it because you love the students. Elementary will have its time consuming drawbacks as well. Think about which one you would be most excited to work at every day! Good luck!
     
  14. socaligirl

    socaligirl Rookie

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    Middle school here is just jr. high (7th and 8th) which are considered a part of secondary school. I tutored one semester at a jr. high and I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. It's hard when you are working in a classroom under the eye of the teacher as opposed to being in charge of the class. There were a couple days that the teachers had subs, and I was essentially in charge for those couple days. I did feel like I had a good command over them and I liked that.

    I actually liked Jr. High way better than high school. I look really young (27 but still look 18) and I liked feeling a little more adult than in the high school setting where I was afraid to be mistaken for a student. :)
     
  15. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    Got it. Well are there classes you could take for both majors while you decide? You could spend the semester taking classes for both while trying to be in a few different classrooms seeing what you like.
     
  16. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    I know what you mean! I subbed at a high school once last year and I got yelled at for parking in the faculty lot. It was a HUGE school and every time I asked someone for directions, they asked if I was a new student. I'm 25, but could definitely be a sophomore in high school.

    I'm also torn on this issue. I'm 4-8 Generalist and Math, but also 6-12 Business Education. Every time I try to choose what I really, really want, I end up with a long list of pros for both sides. I'm thinking that since it's so hard to get a job in my part of Texas right now, I'm going to let whoever wants to give me a job make the decision for me first.

    I plan to sub almost full-time (perks of living in a huge district!) if I don't get hired and hopefully that will help. It's just so hard to decide! I feel more drawn to the type of classroom that you find in elementary and having the same group of kids all day long, but I also don't want to miss out on fun stuff like varsity sports and pep rallies.
     
  17. socaligirl

    socaligirl Rookie

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    Well, I went with my gut and signed up for elementary school prerequisites. I even went so far as to sign up for all the middle school/high school prereq's, but after I did it, it just felt wrong. Do you know what I mean?

    So now, I am all registered, and ready to start studying for the multiple subject CSET. :)
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  19. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Credentials are really different in California. Where I live you must student teach in both areas. I am certified secondary so if I wanted to add elementary I would have to do student teaching and take lots of classes!
     
  20. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    Good choice! I am an elementary student, so I'm a little biased. Good luck! Make sure to stick around on here, you will learn so much :)
     
  21. socaligirl

    socaligirl Rookie

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    I'm in California but the school I go to doesn't make it easy. There are many hoops to jump through for either credential and it's at least a whole year of prerequisites for either credential plus the student teaching. That's why I was worried about choosing the wrong one. But I figure if I really dislike it I can just put the time in later and change my certification.
     
  22. greenbean6

    greenbean6 Companion

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    Socaligirl-Are you attending a private university?
     
  23. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I'm certified to teach biology/general science in grades 7 through 12. It wasn't until I student taught that I realized I really dislike working with high school students and ADORED working with 7th graders. I work at a middle school now that includes grades 4-8 and I teach 5th. I'm actually glad I got a chance to teach a lower grade because I like it a lot better--- kids are still very much into learning and the science I'm teaching is more about exploring than learning difficult facts.

    You'll probably learn a lot as you go through your education courses and get some time in the classroom. I would choose the grade level that would make YOU happiest, not so much about job positions (you can always move).

    And about the grading--- its all grades, not just high school. There are times where I spend my WHOLE weekend grading 70 science notebooks. But you do it for the kids, hoping that you can spark an interest in learning for each of them.
     

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