Would I be crazy to go back to school at age 57 to become a teacher????

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by FuntoLearn, Feb 1, 2013.

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  1. FuntoLearn

    FuntoLearn Rookie

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    Would I be crazy to go back to school at age 57 to get a teaching degree? (I guess I don't feel that old because I had my children late in life--my youngest is only a freshman in high school. ) Would anyone even hire me being a "newbie" at that age? I am mainly interested in teaching elementary school. I'm not fussy about what grade, and would consider teaching in a private, Christian school, though I know they don't pay very well (to put it mildly!)

    I have a degree in architecture (I did originally start out, though, as an education major!) and enjoyed that career "somewhat" for many years, but grew tired of it and longed to go into teaching. I did substitute teach for three years before having kids (18 years ago), then became a stay-at- home mom, and ended up homeschooling my kids through 8th grade (and taught at some co-ops and a hybrid classical homeschool/school called a "tutorial" service .) I am now subbing again. I would prefer to be the regular teacher, though! I don't think I've ever met a child that I didn't like (even the trouble-makers--though they can be difficult to deal with at times.) I would love to be able to come up with my own lesson plans, and to really get to know the kids.

    I have been exploring the options for getting a teaching certificate. I could get a Master's of Ed or Teaching, or a "post-badclaureate "teaching degree in a few years and even do it online. However, it would be quite an investment in time and money. And when I was done, I would be near 60. Would anyone even hire me at that age???? How do districts look on online graduate degrees with first-time teachers?

    Most of the teachers in our district (a relatively nice public school district, I might add) seem to be so young. It makes me wonder if teachers tend to burn out or get tired of the profession before they get older? Do districts tend to "push-out" the older teachers? Or do they just have fantastic early retirement incentives or what??? Or do educators tend to get frustrated with all the latest "new-fangled" educational ideas that keep coming down the pike and quit? Just curious why they all seem so young. I remember having several gray-haired, grandmotherly type teachers when I went to elementary school. You don't see many of those these days-- in my district at least.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or feedback you'd care to share. Care to talk me into or out of this crazy idea??:unsure:
     
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  3. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    I'm not in any place to talk you out of doing something you're clearly passionate and excited about - it seems like you're already aware of the potential drawbacks of going into this career later in life. I wouldn't suggest going into debt for it though.

    You are right that the elementary job market is just saturated with applicants. Generally speaking, I don't think public districts are allowed to "push out" older teachers like that - tenure is supposed to protect that from happening. If you're in a state w/a good retirement system, maybe the older teachers have already retired, LOL! In our state it used to be they could retire as early as 52, but that's all changing soon.

    I'm in a private school w/o tenure or grand retirement benefits, but there are many older teachers at my school. However, one of the oldest is probably in her late 60s, she's been teaching for over 30 years and has announced she's retiring at the end of this year.

    I will tell you unless you're just genetically blessed with incredible energy and great health, education is a career that can be rough on the body, and stressful. Again, it takes a lot of energy - I'm in my early 30's and even find myself wondering sometimes if I'll "burn out" at some point! I work with K-5 and teach foreign language, so I need to be very animated and energetic with my subject matter.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I would be afraid you'd have great difficulty being hired. :unsure:
     
  5. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    To be honest, I think you would find the field very difficult to enter. Would you incur any debt by continuing your education? If so, that would be a deterrent for me at your age. I don't mean to sound negative, but given many factors my personal opinion is that it is not a good idea.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I almost take offense at some of the responses... almost. I am 50, and am in my 5th year teaching first grade. I held a number of positions while raising my daughter, then decided to return to school. Yes, it is physically demanding. Yes, student behavior and admin/state, etc., mandates can be frustrating/ridiculous/whatever.

    All that being said...

    I love my job. I love my students. I can't imagine what else I would be doing that would be as interesting and fulfilling. I have $40K in student loans, but I'm still teaching.

    I didn't find it hard to be hired, but I aimed my job search at low-income, urban areas (it's kind of a ministry for me). While I often wish I had a more diverse student population, I still love it. I received my certification in December, subbed for a semester, and began my first teaching job in August. I think it depends upon the area in which you live as to how hard it is to find a job.

    Just my random thoughts....
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It's not difficult to find a job here, but I still think someone who is just trying to begin her teaching career at nearly sixty would find it difficult to impossible to be hired.

    What have you been doing career-wise?
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I don't mean to offend anyone with my post. It's just that the OP is 57, so he/she is about 8 years away from retirement. He/she needs to complete a credential program first. Then he/she needs to find a permanent position. I don't know how long that would take. In addition, if the OP has to take out a loan it could take many working years to pay it back which needs to be a factor in making this choice. If the OP does not have to take out a loan, then I would be more apt to say go for it, but still consider whether he/she would be financially stable in the event that he/she left another field to pursue teaching and could not find a permanent position. Those are the factors I would want to thoroughly consider first.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I agree.:sorry:
    The OP is nearly 60. You were 45 when you were hired, pwhatley. Thats a big difference.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I disagree with the other posters. Who says the OP will want to retire at a specific age? If this is your dream...go for it!

    I have worked for may districts who like to hire older, more experienced people.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think it is never too late to go after your dream. I don't think 57 is too old at all. Will it be a bit more challenging to get a job than if you are 27?--probably. I think if this is something that you really want to do, than it can happen. I think the job market is tough right now because of the economy, but in most states I think it will get better in a few years.

    I am not sure of your financial position. Teaching doesn't pay very well until you have lots of experience and education. Therefore, realize you might be making small salaries for a few years. I must say the financial part might be the most challenging and the one to look at the most.

    Many teachers are pretty tired out in their 50s of teaching for 20+ years. As you haven't taught before, I think you could have a special physical energy for it that could last for a few years.

    I would suggest getting back and subbing a few more times though before making sure this is what you want to do.
     
  12. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I didn't have any problem finding a job. I was 56 when I started teaching. I started my career in Utah. I was welcomed warmly by HR. The head of the department was my age. I was able to get a scholarship to pay for my teaching certification. I'm a big believer in following your dream. 57 is not old.
     
  13. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I wish I could talk you into doing something like this... I really do. I think people who voluntarily choose to go into teaching as a 2nd career bring a different perspective to a profession that needs it.

    But I think it would be irresponsible for a person in education to encourage someone in your position to "follow your dream". Even if you were demonstrably the Michael Jordan of teachers... seniority rules override any/all else.

    I had a fellow sub teacher, who happened to be in a similar situation. She was experienced, talented, and desirous. Her only problem was that she was about 15 years older than me, and no credential. In the school we were regulars at, if you could rank the best teachers from #1-20, she would certainly be one of those.

    Anyway... we got to talking one day about our plight, and I asked her why she didn't go for her credential. She basically explained what I just stated above--that by time she finished... and combined with her age, it wouldn't be worth it to her to try. Today, that GOOD, willing teacher is now back in the financial sector, not teaching young children. It's a shame. As I said, I wish teaching would attract a more diverse group. The ranks are filled with the "vanilla" (color-within-the-lines), organized, pretty, "I wanted to be a teacher since the 2nd grade", married to white-collar caucasian man, 2.3 children in a single-family residence in the burbs -type. I really think it would help to have people of different gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, and viewpoint in life. But unfortunately, that isn't the way it works.

    I wish you luck whatever you decide. I suppose it is possible.
     
  14. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I don't think it's EVER too old to go back to school. Now whether you'll have an easy or tough road ahead, who knows. I've also always believed that what's meant for you will be & if it's not meant to be, it won't.

    If I were you & wanted to start a new career field all over again, I'd get into speech-language pathology. That field is in HIGH demand, regardless of how the economy is, so they don't worry about your age. You could work with whichever age you want: 18 mos to the elderly & you're not limited to working in the schools.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.
     
  15. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I am 61 and been teaching for 22 years.
    I would not consider starting college at your age.
     
  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    At the high school level older new teachers are preferred over younger. Not sure that the same issues would be at play in the younger grades, though.
     
  17. FuntoLearn

    FuntoLearn Rookie

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    My background is architecture (see the original post). The last 13 years I have been home educating my kids--so it "feels" natural for me to continue on in the education field. I am subbing now, and it was a pretty smooth transition--I felt right at home.

    I was the type of home educator who went to homeschool conventions and curriculum fairs, read lots of books about education, etc. and tried lots of different curricula, techniques, etc. on my own kids (and at co-ops), so I am already familiar with lots of what is used and done in the schools--and even lots of the terminology. I was also "blessed" with a son who had some vague academic difficulties, so I also had to research everything I could on learning disabilities, etc. to try and figure out what was wrong. (His public school (before homeschooling)had tested him and they couldn't figure it out. We only just figured it out recently, though we instinctively had used some of the right kind of programs to help him. It turns out he has a classic, "text-book" case of a non-verbal learning disability (according to both his test scores and my observations--he doesn't have aspberger's or autism at all, however.) So I am even familiar with the learning struggles many students have, etc.
    But I do have to be realistic about being able to get hired, etc. That is why I am asking here!!! It is one thing to be a sub, and another to have all the day-to-day responsibilities of being a teacher.
     
  18. BaynJess

    BaynJess Rookie

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    Have you thought of going and having a meeting with a few of your local school principals and just asking them "off the record" for their opinions? It may be a long shot and some may not wish to respond but if you get a few that are willing to discuss the issue with you it might give you an idea. At the very least you would get to see if there body language changes when you pose the question!

    Is there a careers centre that you can contact who might be able to advise you? A lot of career centres have statistics regarding these types of things?

    My boys have a teacher at their school who has just turned 73 and yes she has been teaching for a long time but has no intention of retiring just yet and seems to have no problems keeping up with her kindergarten class, she is so passionate about teaching and always so happy.

    Good luck with what ever you decide to do :)
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Ah, I somehow missed it.
     
  20. FuntoLearn

    FuntoLearn Rookie

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    Wow--that is encouraging to hear. May I ask what grade level and subject you teach? I know that secondary math and science teachers are in big demand around here and that you can get certified while you teach those subjects (if you had those subjects in your background). Was that true in your case?

    I am thinking more about teaching elementary school. However, if I did teach at the secondary level, I would love to teach history. but I don't have a history degree. However, I know that there isn't a shortage of history teachers--where else can a history major get a job (and where are they going to put all those coaches when they already have enough p.e. teachers? LOL!)

    Thanks so much, again, for the encouragement. At least I feel like am not totally crazy for considering it.
     
  21. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    I worked with a male special education teacher who started his career at sixty. I am trying to become a science teacher at 58. I work as a special education assistant now. I currently work with high school students and I worked as a special education teacher four years ago. I would recommend to go into a field of high need like special education, math or science.
     
  22. DressageLady

    DressageLady Comrade

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    I spent most of my working years in mental health, mostly with children. I am finishing up my student teaching this semester and will have an Elementary Education credential by May. I will turn 50 in July.

    I sure hope the more, um...mature...newly credentialed teacher has a hope in h*ll of landing a job.
    Sheilah
     
  23. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I worked 1 year in high school ,and am in my 4th year of middle school. I'm certified to teach middle school language arts, and k-12 special education. I enjoy special education. I like working with older students. I've been asked by my district to transfer to high school next year. I am considering it. I have only worked in non union states. I've never had tenure nor have the other teachers I've worked with. Honestly, my age has been a plus. Every situation is different. I plan on teaching another 6 years.
     
  24. FuntoLearn

    FuntoLearn Rookie

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    Thanks so much for all the honest feedback!

    I can't figure out how to do multi-quotes, but I wanted to respond to all your replies. I have read over all your replies several times and they are all very helpful. It gives me a good overall perspective and food for thought.

    One thing that you may find interesting: when I was starting out in architecture (about 1980), I was making less than my friends who had just gotten teaching jobs! I recently did a comparision search and teachers still make more than architectural draftsman/architects (unless you own or are a partner in your own successful firm.) Yes, I "blew it" financially by not staying in education (my original major) and working as a teacher the whole time! (I am amazed at how much a teacher can make after working 28 years in the field, at least in my district!) So whether I go back to work in architecture or into teaching, I won't be making much money at this point!

    thanks for responding--nice to hear from someone else about the same age. I wish I had the desire to teach in one of those high need areas, but unfortunately, math and science and special ed are not my favorites--though I'm perfectly fine with those subjects on the elementary ed level. I don't think I could teach them well at the higher levels.

    BaynJess--Funny you should mention talking to a principal. I had actually thought about that, but wasn't sure. Maybe I will try that.

    Thanks--that is encouraging--even if just for my subbing job and I never become a regular teacher.

    Thanks again everyone.
     
  25. Mr.Milton

    Mr.Milton Rookie

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    I say if it's something that you truly feel passionate about i'd say go for it . I think we definitely need more teachers with a passion for teaching. Almost all of my favorite teachers were within 5-8 years from retirement when i had them. Money is not every thing.:thumb::2cents:
     
  26. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Really depends on the state and district you're in.

    I think you mentioned in another thread that you're in Southern CA, correct?

    Here in my part of CA, most teachers are not Caucasian.

    I take offense to the sentence you wrote about wanting to be a teacher since 2nd grade. I am one of those people. I've written that in past posts and I am truly proud of it. Furthermore, you mentioned something about being organized. Teachers should be organized. :dizzy:

    My district is incredibly diverse. Heck--look at me: early 30s, Latino, & gay. How much more diverse do you want to see? :confused:

    The tone of your posts makes me think of a quote:
    Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching? ~Dennis and Wendy Mannering
     
  27. bros

    bros Phenom

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    No it isn't.

    There is a 70 year old woman going to college for the first time to get a degree in my program (Teacher of Students with Disabilities K-5)

    She doesn't want to teach in a classroom, though. She's doing it to get a much better paying job at a tutoring center she has worked at for a long time.
     
  28. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    You may also want to go into curriculum development, become a teacher's aide, doing tutoring, etc. All the other types of jobs an educator can become instead of working every day in the classroom. Those jobs can be just as rewarding as working in the classroom and may require less degree work and a different scheduling.
     
  29. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I just said that I think we need diversity--you obviously qualify! If you choose to take offense to one particular blurb in my comment, that's your business. As I see it, the door to people like OP (assuming he has a passion to teach, which I would expect of someone willing to GO BACK TO SCHOOL at that point in life) should never be shut. But at least here in CA, it is. You know it, and I know it. Heck, the stars have to align for a traditional teaching candidate in 2013 to land himself/herself a desireable teaching gig. The point being: The profession is not geared for career-changers, and that is very unfortunate.

    Let's say OP decides to go back to school... takes a couple years. He/she is now 59 years old, and it is 2015. Do not ignore the economic climate. People seem to believe that we've weathered the storm economically and that "America is back". Be real. 2013, 2014, 2015 are bound to be bad years (like 2008, only worse). In that climate, anyone without sufficient seniority is in trouble. If you happen to have passion, the talent, and the willingness to sacrifice... and don't have seniority? They have no use for you.

    And for the record, I don't think I said that most teachers here are white (though stats may actually bear that out). I just meant to say that the teaching ranks are not heterogenous. Whatever diversity you think you see, congratulations. I honestly don't see it. And that is over a decade, in 50+ schools. If you bring something new/different to the party, it's of no consequence to your employment. That mentality works against OP.
     
  30. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Speaking of what you said John Lee about diversity, I'm not a teacher, but most of the people in my line of work are older, Caucasian ladies. The next most common group in my line are the young, Caucasian ladies who will eventually take the older ones' places. Again, it's pracitcally all female, like teaching & I, too wish there was a LOT more diversity.
     
  31. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I got off to a late start with my career. I started off in special ed & did that very briefly, but the bulk of my years was plain old subbing. I'll be 39 when I graduate with the 2nd Masters I'm working on, but I'm in such a high demand field that I already got hired in fall, 2011.
     
  32. showmelady

    showmelady Companion

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    Test the waters first, maybe?

    What are the requirements to be a sub in your state? (some states only require a 2-year degree, and I have seen some that only require a HS diploma)

    Try to get hired in as a sub and if you do you can see if you like the job, then decide if you want to get the educational requirements to become a full-time teacher. Plus. you will get paid for the sub work, and if you decide to go back to school you could continue to sub part time. It would help pay for school.
     
  33. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I agree with this. It is difficult for anyone to find a teaching job. This would make you sure you really wanted to do it before you spent money on a degree. We certainly need teachers like you, who are positive and excited and skilled. There may be other jobs in the education field that you would find just as fulfilling that don't require the time in school. Also, many private schools don't require that their teachers be certified. Look into your options for other related jobs, but if an education degree is what you want, and money is not a concern, go ahead and get it.
     
  34. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It's been mentioned a couple times that our profession is not friendly to older career changers. But I think the honest truth is that age is a factor in not all but most jobs. A sixty year old wanting to enter nearly any field will find it difficult. It would be difficult where my husband works, difficult where my sister works... So I don't think teaching in particular is any more "unfriendly" to older applicants than the majority of fields.
     
  35. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree with that. Entering any field at an older age is going to present some difficulties and challenges. I wish it weren't that way, but it is.
     
  36. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    57 and looking for a new career. wow, That seems to be time to look for retirement hobbies.
     
  37. Elvira

    Elvira Rookie

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    Like many of the posters here have mentioned, the elementary school market is pretty saturated in most of the US. Most people I know who major in early childhood education have to really search and compete for jobs. However, if you are open to charter schools and private schools, it might not be as hard to find a job.

    It seems like you are passionate :) I'm just worried about finding a job in this market.

    EDIT: fellow teachers, do you think that she could use being a mom to her advantage? Maybe she could play up the educational lessons her kids taught her? Would that make her more marketable?

    Also, if you are getting close to retirement, I might just look into volunteering at a school or tutoring. You would get the fulfillment of being with the kids but you won't have to worry about the student loans!
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'd suggest tutoring or subbing. Getting certified could co$t and the market is competitive enough without the decreased chance of getting hired as a newbie at age 60. My school hired a retired principal several years ago, at age 70, to be a staff developer. Despite an impressive background, her age presents some struggles with her connecting with staff and other difficulties in terms of stamina, use of technology, amount of new info to process...not saying this would be true of all older hires, but it will enter the minds of those who are doing the hiring.
     
  39. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Question? For those of you that say it's harder for older people to get a job: Do you actually know someone older that had a hard time getting a professional job? Or any job?

    Some examples I know: My friend's husband was VP of a division of Washington Bank when it went out of business. He was 61. It took him about a year to find a position at Z.....Bank.. He still has 2 children at home. (second marriage, second family)

    Me: 57, when I got my first teaching job on the very ritzy East Side of SLC. After I retired from my first job at 53, I took a year off to travel, then worked part time as a social worker, then at JetBlue, later in Small Claims court as a court clerk, and Joann's Fabrics. I really didn't encounter any age discrimination.

    When I was looking for a teaching job, and wanted to move, I got interviews from Nebraska, Arizona, Florida, Ms, and several others. Of course my resume didn't have my age, but it did have the year I graduated high school.

    I don't know if there is as much age discrimination out there as some of you younger folks seem to think there might be.

    And, just for the record getting older does suck for aches and pains...but if you take care of yourself, keep active, and keep your brain engaged there isn't that much to worry about!!!!

    I'm making plans for my retirement to the coast...and I want to work part time in reservations at Island Casino:) its only 6 years away.
     
  40. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 2, 2013

    Yes, I do know older people who have faced such difficulty. My uncle worked his butt off for many years in a demanding field until a massive reduction in force. He was very close to retirement but couldn't financially do so early. He had lots of experience, a record to show great work ethic, is a good person...basically what I'm saying is that while most people in HR aren't stupid enough to say to someone their age is an issue, I can't imagine anything else being a concern. And the poor guy couldn't get a job. He ended up with cancer and has never returned to any work. He's one of a few examples.

    I'm not saying it's impossible, but difficult. I know I've worked to sort through and interview applicants and I will admit that I would be hesitant about a sixty year old just entering the field. Heck, even a sixty year old with years of teaching experience. There is a sense of "investing" in new hires...you hope to have that person with you for years to come which will allow you to train the person for your district's needs and expectations. Of course that doesn't always pan out, but it's ideal. With someone older, I think it's reasonable to think he or she may not be working much longer.

    I am NOT implying I think older applicants are without value and not worth hiring. But all else equal when one is twenty-five and one is sixty, I believe I'd choose the younger applicant for most positions. Maybe I shouldn't admit that, but I want to be honest because I think others would feel and act the same.
     
  41. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Feb 2, 2013

    I say you only live once! I don't think age would matter, as long as you're an enthusiastic teacher who is willing to learn. I may be "unrealistic," but I guess I'm a dreamer. :D
     
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