View Full Version : Teachers-especially HS or Language Arts!

Nov. 25, 2009, 11:25 PM
So I'm currently a junior pursuing a degree in AYA Language Arts Education. I LOVE my English classes and I like my education classes that I see a benefit to (such as Ed Planning where we learn about lesson plans, unit plans, assessment, etc...)

My problem is that in some of my education classes (like Educational Equity and Excellence) my professors only talk about how much your life will suck as a teacher :eek: Now I realize teaching is not an easy thing but I hate hearing how all my students will hate me and I'll only be able to teach in inner city schools and the parents will never be supportive :no: It's really discouraging and the only reason I keep sticking with it is because I love my classes that are actually related to teaching things. I love doing my service learning and field experience. I enjoy making lesson plans and unit plans and so forth. I'm really looking forward to taking my Teaching Literature course in the spring. However, these core "BS" classes as I like to call them are really discouraging.

Any advice? Is teaching really as horrible as they make it out to be? :eek: Will all my students really hate me?! :cry: (I realize that this isn't likely but it does get old to hear after awhile). FWIW, I really hope to teach in the private school sector. I would like nothing more than to go back and teach at my Catholic high school. That would be a dream come true for me :yes: I also have decided that I will not accept a job in an inner city district. This is a decision I made for personal reasons and I do have a back up plan if I cannot find a job anywhere else.

ETA: Sorry for the novel length, must be the English major in me :lol:

Nov. 26, 2009, 12:41 AM
It's truly "the best of times....the worst of times" (Dickens!).....

I taught 8th grade, and it was THE hardest job I've ever had. But one of the most fun/rewarding, too!

I teach college students now, and I love that I get to teach people who are a bit more mature (not always a lot, though...!).

Read Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. It's a great book, and he bumbles through and does a good job because he loves what he does, AND he wants students to love it, too.

IF you can be flexible, do so! Bring things into the classroom to make it fun! And try not to get bogged down by high stakes testing.

It's really a great life, helping folks learn to think/read/write. :)

Nov. 26, 2009, 06:55 AM
It all depends on your personality and where you teach. Big cities are tough. The clientele is tough, and there often isn't a lot of support for new teachers. The problem sets in when you have taught for a few years in the big city, then want to get out. They tend to pay more than the smaller towns do, and because of the daily combat-mentality often in place in big city schools the smaller, more desirable towns shy away from hiring big city teachers. They also tend to like to hire young teachers so they can mold them to their own system. It is easier that way.

If you can get a teaching job in a town you enjoy working and living in, or one with a good system with lots of real support for teachers, then you can be creative and enjoy your job.

Nov. 26, 2009, 09:52 AM
I think it really depends on the individual school. You'll probably not have as much trouble getting a job at a Catholic school, if that's what you're looking for, but keep in mind that you will be making a pittance...

I teach at an inner-city charter high school. I swore I wouldn't teach in the inner-city... I saw "Dangerous Minds," and I did not see myself as the next Michelle Pfeiffer. d; However, my options were a Catholic school, the public inner-city district (plagued with problems) or a charter school in the city. I chose the charter school and have been there for 5 years, almost the entire time the school's been open.

There are a lot of difficulties, yes. Parent involvement is very low and many of the parents that are involved are batshite insane. Then again, a private or suburban school in an affluent area has the opposite problem of overinvolved parents who are also batshite insane, so it's a trade-off. As an English teacher, I can't send books home or assign reading at home; books go missing on the metro bus and never find their way home. There are a lot of gang members and there is a lot of unseen drama. In general, teaching really does involve a whole heck of a lot of work in preparation and is a big drain of energy because you're always "on." You get kids dropping by constantly, during free periods, after school, when you're just about to start your first bite of lunch...

But, it gets easier. Now I have my routine down and I have a really well-managed classroom, so I don't have many discipline issues at all, and grading and planning are much easier--I have learned to assign as much as I can that I can grade while walking around the room, for example, rather than collecting everything. It also helps if you have a good community at your school. My school has a fabulous group of mostly youngish teachers, who aren't burnt out yet, and we hang out and drink and trade ideas and have fun together. (Broke my foot in a faculty hockey game yesterday in the gym!)

And the kids make it worthwhile, if you develop relationships with them. I really do love my kids. They're the best birth control I know, but they always add variety to my day. (:

Nov. 26, 2009, 10:34 AM
Thanks for the help guys :yes: I figured it couldn't be quite as bad as they were making it out to be but one does wonder sometimes :winkgrin: I have put some serious thought into where I would like to teach and after attending both a rural public school and a Catholic school, a Catholic school would be my first choice. I don't mind taking a pay cut to be in an environment like my school had :yes: I love the country so being in a rural area would also be fine with me (although BF would have a heart attack if he had to drive more than 15 minutes to a grocery store :lol:)

Nov. 26, 2009, 11:21 AM
Thanks for this post! I'm finishing up my undergrad next year then hoping to go for a masters in teaching. I'm planning on staying in Edinburgh, and I'll probably at least start out at a public "inner" city school.

There's a great organisation called LEAPS in Edinburgh that runs a programme where university students go around state schools and talk to the kids about university. These are schools where the kids parents/family did not go to uni. The programme is basically like college counsellors were in my school. It's really good experience for me, because we do different workshops with different age groups and get a lot of hands on experience teaching. One of them involves 13-14 y/os coming to the uni campus. They are given a topic and a video camera and told to make a short clip about their topic. Then they're given a list of questions to answer while walking around the campus. It's actually really fun - they get excited about the idea of going to uni and thinking about what they'll do once they get there. A surprising number of them actually know what they want to do at uni! (I certainly didn't at that age).

Do you get to actually assistant teach as part of your program, or volunteer? That might help dispel some of the things your hearing in class.

Nov. 26, 2009, 02:38 PM
I'm an 8th grade Language Arts teacher in a public school district. This is my 7th year teaching the same subject in the same school; my county has a better tax base than many in the state, thus our pay is higher, and we're not getting hit as badly by furloughs as other counties, but every month is seems as though I'm making less and less money.

I truly do love teaching 8th graders. You certainly have to be on your toes, and be two steps ahead of them, but in general, they're a pretty enjoyable lot. That said, the longer I teach, the more I'm finding that paperwork rules public education. I have to prove more and more every year that I'm doing my job, that I'm bending over backwards to help my students (hello RTI!), and with little time during the school day to do these things, many gets done on my own time. Also, as a Language Arts teacher, grading essays is a royal pain in the butt! I teach 110 students, and if I assign an essay (which I do regularly, as it's a major part of our 8th grade standard), I can expect to spend at least 8-10 hours grading and commenting on them so students have feedback.

Be careful where you teach. In many private and charter settings, your administrator will RUN YOUR LIFE. Your contract will purposely be vague, which means they can pretty much require that you do whatever they ask, planning time may be nonexistant or minimal, and you'll find that your work consumes your life. That is certainly the quickest way to burnout.

Some of your professors are right. Teaching teenages (middle & high school) is not for the weak! Some of your students will be disrespectful, no matter how respectful you are to them. Some will flat our despise you just because you're a teacher and you expect them to work. In general, the parents that you REALLY need to support you with regards to their child's behavior, academics, or apathy, are the ones who usually never answer the phone or respond to e-mail. Note I said, in general...obviously there are just as many fantastic parents who support their child's education 150%.

You'll find your niche, and will learn along the way what works for you and what doesn't. The first two years, for any teacher, are a challenge. Before you sign a contract, do some investigating, find out about your administrator, etc. Determine the school's climate, the working conditions, what parents, etc. are like. That can go a long way in having a successful start to a teaching career.

Nov. 26, 2009, 03:13 PM
17 years teaching 7th graders writing, literature and state history: I can't imagine doing anything else. I love my job, warts and all. It is the hardest thing I've ever done. It is incredibly stressful, that is why we don't teach year-round--there is no way I could spend more time with 13 year old kids than I do now:lol:.

They are thrilling, exasperating, infuriating, kind, mean and ignorant, and so are their parents. Honestly? I love students, and am beginning to despise parents. Ok, the parents who, more and more, are actually neglecting their children by abdicating their role in educating their child are the ones I hate.

I think you'll find your grade and area that suit you best. I thought for sure I'd be a high school history teacher--that is my degree area. What did I find out? I love middle schoolers! I'm wacky just like them, they are intense, curious creatures and they keep me young.

I also found my college level teaching preparation classes useless. Substitute teaching and having an awesome mentor in my grade level when I first started taught me more than 5 years of college did.

Nov. 26, 2009, 10:22 PM
Seriously, your life will suck. I'll confirm it for you now. For your professors to tell you it will be pure bliss would be criminal.

For about 90% of the time it will be horrendous (grading-especially LA, test prep, administrative stuff, and other BS) , but it's the other 10% (actually seeing students "get it") that makes it all worthwhile.

I taught (high school credit) LA in a middle school for 9 years, and there is no way that I would've survived without an awesome teaching team that saw things the same way I did in regards to expectations, behavior and discipline. We were good friends and a formiddable force. :)

Seriously, this is quite a difficult field. When people asked why I chose MS, it was a simple answer. I'd rather work with children who act like adults 90% of the time, than adults who act like children 10% of the time.

On my 9th year, I seriously prayed for an attitude adjustment. I had absolutely had it with the system I was working in-for a variety of reasons. Instead of an attitude adjustment, I got a phone call from a friend informing me of an opening in a related career field. When I got the offer, I took it even though it meant more hours and less pay, and haven't looked back yet.

I hope you make the choice that's right for you. Everyone else can provide input, but it all comes down to what works for you. Even though I only stayed in my school for a short time, I saw so many new teachers that came in expecting every child to be on grade-level, and ready to learn. It was heart-breaking to see them learn the hard way that just wasn't the case.

Example: In college (a pretty well-known ed school), I had a prof tell me that if my lessons were engaging enough that I wouldn't have to worry about discipline issues. He apparently never met the kid whose mom had just been hauled off to jail one morning before school. You just can't compete with that. There's a much more pressing need with a student like that than prepositions.

As much as you hate the negativity now, it will hopefully keep you from being swallowed whole on day one. You'll know if it's right for you. Good luck to you!