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Teacher good job?

  1. Feb 25, 2009 #1
    Any teachers out there? I'm hoping to get a degree in education, but wish to know the positives and negatives of the job, and different jobs availible. Thank you all!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2009 #2
    My wife teaches high school math. The cons are the pay is crap, the hours are long, the administration is unhelpful, and some of the kids are spoiled brats. She seems to like it though... it seems that it is worth it for the kids who are really putting in an effort.

    It's a tough road though... good luck!
  4. Feb 25, 2009 #3

    Chi Meson

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    I teach high school physics which is the best gig going. Even better, I teach in Connecticut where teachers' pay is very good. In fact, I am truly embarassed about how much I will be paid next year in light of the current economic trend.

    But, a degree in education is crap. Sorry, but I said it. Get a real degree, and a certification while you are at it. Or, even better, do the five year thing, and take classes toward the MAT (master of Arts in Teaching). Land a teaching job, and finish the MAT during your first two years or so. The school pays for some or all of the classes, and then you jump up the pay scale.

    What exactly do you want to teach? Elementary school? Middle School? High School? Each is a very different animal. I have great thing going where I am, but there is not enough money in a town budget that would get me to teach middle school. I would have no idea what to do in k-3. I think I would do pretty good in grades 4 and 5, but not as well as with 11th and 12th grades.
  5. Feb 25, 2009 #4
    Good thread - I'm also thinking of becoming a teacher at the senior high level, in physics or math.

    I'm wondering what kind of personality it takes to be a teacher. I'm a pretty quiet person, and not really sure if I would make a good teacher for that reason.
  6. Feb 26, 2009 #5

    Chi Meson

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qErh402eJgI&feature=related" is what you want to be like.
    You know how people go on about Feynman? Well, Paul Hewitt is to High School physics teachers as Feynman is to college professors. You want to know how to teach it? Watch the master.

    Are you any good at acting? Can you get on stage and pretend to be a character? IF so, then you can be a teacher. You want/need to be a character, you need to be funny, you need to be spontaneous. I am not naturally like this, but I put on a persona when I am teaching, and I play the character that I want to be.

    To learn the character, I watch the people that impress me. I have watched every hour of the Paul Hewitt lectures (30+) several times, plus as much Feynman video I can get. And then I add some Billy Connally for good humor, and the creation is very positive.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  7. Feb 28, 2009 #6
    Thank you for your input.

    I think I could probably be a character when teaching; I just don't know for sure that I could. I never liked giving presentations when I was in high school, which kind of makes me think I should *not* be a teacher. I wish I could try it out before committing to a specific degree, but unfortunately I don't think there's any way of doing that.
  8. Mar 1, 2009 #7


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    What about:
    - tutoring
    - summer camp leader, councillor
    - substitute teaching
    - coaching
    - volunteering with student organisations that give regular presenations (SADD for example)
    - Toastmasters
    - volunteering with science fairs
    - summer jobs as an historic interpreter
    - lab TA
  9. Mar 1, 2009 #8
    A lot about being a good teacher at the high school level is also about presenting good learning activities for the students. At the high school level it's less about presentation and more about active learning (since you have the students five times per week rather than just the two-three times that you'd have college students... and you're responsible for the labs).
  10. Mar 1, 2009 #9

    What kind of teacher do you want to be? This makes a large difference. Science, mathematics, and special education teachers are in the highest demand, while K-6 and history teachers are a dime a dozen. If your willing to move anywhere in the United States to get a job, then your specialization becomes less important.

    I agree with Chi Meson. If you want to teach biology, get a biology degree first and then get your education certification, even though you will likely spend five years in college instead of four. 1 out of 2 new teachers leave the field with five years. There is not much to do with an education degree except teach.

    TMFKAN64, I love your response!

    The positives:
    * you get to teach a subject you enjoy.
    * when you land a job, it tends to have great job security.
    * teachers can get great health benefits and they may be free of charge. However, the new trend seems to be that new teacher contracts require teachers to help pay for these benefits due to rising health care costs.
    * every now and then, you can change a student's life in a positive manner.
    * if this floats your boat, you will likely feel like a minor celebrity when students see you outside of school
    * you get the Summers off. You may have to complete other education and certification requirements, plus prepare activities and other things for the following school year, so this can be a little misleading, especially to folks not in education.
    * you can be creative and imaginative in designing original lessons and activities.

    The negatives:
    * you may find that not many students care to learn.
    * you will likely have to individualize your lesson plans (how you teach something) to cater to various students' needs. For example, students who are in special education have something called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which lists areas that they are deficient in and learning strategies the teacher can employ so that they can learn better. The teacher and school district can get into some trouble if such plans are not being followed and if the parents wish to push the issue to the courts. When I taught it was common to have 10-20% of students with IEPs in each class.
    * tons of paper work, most of which is complete BS.
    * spending 37.5 hours at the school per week, but another 30 outside of school writing lessons, preparing and gathering supplies to do activities, and grading student work. This can kill your weekends easily.
    * spending money out of your own paycheck to buy supplies because the district gives each teacher a paltry budget for the school year.
    * poor leadership and decision-making from the administration.
    * parents that think you should raise their children.
    * receiving constant and redundant emails from a few parents.
    * Federally mandated tests.
    * being forced by the administration to reinvent the wheel every year in an attempt to raise achievement and do other tasks that you just don't have the time for.
    * completing further education to maintain certification. I used to teach in PA. The last I recall, once you graduate from college and land a job you have five years to get 24 credits of continuing education or else you lose your certification. After that, you have to complete 180 hours of continuing education every five years or else the same consequence.
    * expectations to manage some sort of extracurricular activity.
    * faculty meetings and teacher inservice days (staff development) are usually a waste of time.
    * if you don't train the dogs right, right from the gate, they will bite you for the rest of school year and you will experience a living hell.

    Just so you know, I was 7th grade science teacher for three years and decided to leave the profession based on many of the reasons mentioned above, but overall, mainly for other personal interests.

    Good luck with your choice.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  11. Mar 7, 2009 #10
    I thought teaching physics would be relatively insulated from the ups and downs of the economy, but all of us in my district without tenure have been told that we will be non-renewed (laid off) at the end of this year.
  12. Mar 7, 2009 #11

    Chi Meson

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    Don't despair too soon. It was written into our contract that any teacher who was not to be renewed MUST be told before April 1st. That meant that ALL non-tenured teachers got the "non-renewal" letter during the month of March. The administration didn't know who (if any) would actually get the elbow, so they played the rule so that they could make the cuts they needed to make later on. I was "fired" three years in a row before I got tenure in my fourth year ("so why is it called 'tenyear'?")

    Check to see if this is a clause in your contract.
  13. Mar 7, 2009 #12


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    I WISH more high school biology teachers had degrees in biology; I'd even prefer if they got some additional education beyond a BS, and pursued a Master's degree in some aspect of biology. The limited biology coursework required for an education major to teach biology is pathetic and just contributes to the inadequate preparation of high school students to understand biology when they get to college...or simply to understand biology sufficiently to function in life. I really believe that a lot of the issues we have with people "protesting" evolutionary theory stems from inadequate education on the subject at the high school level. While people attack the religions that reject evolutionary theory, I think there would be less of a problem there if people really understood evolutionary theory sufficiently to see it does not threaten their belief system (at least in most cases...there will always be a few who march to the beat of a different drummer).
  14. Mar 8, 2009 #13
    Actually, yes, and I know this is the reason. What worries me is that I can come up with scenarios where the district can make do with three science teachers (by eliminating options and electives).

    So I'm hoping they decide not to do that, and decide to re-hire me before I find another job.
  15. Mar 8, 2009 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    Good luck. The mantra from Ed departments is "a good teacher can teach any subject" so it's not required that their students actually learn about the subject they intend to teach.
  16. Mar 9, 2009 #15
    With NCLB calling for "highly qualified" teachers, there is a push for teachers to have degrees in their area(s) of licensure.

    I am glad I went through the alternative route after getting bachelor's and master's degrees in physics. General educational theory is nice, but subject-specific pedagogy is absolutely necessary.
  17. Mar 9, 2009 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes, but there is also push-back from at least some Ed departments and from the "traditional" teachers. I had a student who got his PhD and went to get his certification - they gave him nothing but grief. He then went to teach at an inner-city public high school, where the "traditional" teachers felt threatened, and did their best to drum him out. He now teaches at a suburban high school, where he has won a number of awards for teaching.
  18. Mar 10, 2009 #17
    It was remarkably hard to get information on how to become a teacher. ESPECIALLY from the college with the primary teacher ed department in the state--and that's where I earned my degrees from in the first place!

    They actually gave me mis-information that almost convinced me to give up--but I persisted long enough to find someone who was actually helpful (at another university), and I found a school to teach at where my degrees were considered a benefit, not a threat.

    Still, I think the recent emphasis on highly qualified teachers will force the issue. Ed departments will try to water it down, but as long as whatever successor legislation does not eliminate the high qualification topic, I think the system will continue to lurch in the right direction.
  19. Mar 11, 2009 #18
    Even if you just want to be a teacher, it is better to get an advanced degree. My high school physics teacher had a Ph.D in Physics from UT Austin. Needless to say, she probably doesn't have to worry too much about job security.
  20. Mar 12, 2009 #19
    I want to become a teacher of maths i like the teaching profession. its very respected.
  21. Mar 14, 2009 #20
    Even if you start out as a bachelor's level teacher, you will probably be encouraged or required to earn a master's. At that point, you can choose--one of the education master's degrees, or a subject-area master's, or some combination of both (e.g., "physics education").

    I was glad I had my bachelor's and master's in physics FIRST, then went into teaching.
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