Becoming a Teacher

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fleft
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Becoming a Teacher

Postby fleft » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:40 pm UTC

I'm graduating from college in a month and just looking for a little advice from a bunch of smart people that might have a few answers. I am a math major who came to college hoping to become an actuary. That isn't happening, mostly due to inability and lack of effort. Since then I have considered a few options, but the one that interests me the most is teaching at the high school level. One reason for this is that it seems so much easier to get a teaching job right now than most others in the math field. However, my family is totally against it. For one, I am a shy person and usually do not enjoy public speaking. They are also against it because they had much higher expectations for me, it is costly (extra schooling compared to the actuary route), and don't think I will like it. I have thought a lot about it and think I could make a very good teacher and enjoy doing it. I get together with a small group of friends on a weekly basis to study and I love tutoring the others and enjoy explaining ideas to them. I have considered both tutoring for a year at local high schools to see how I like it and jumping right into a teacher education program at a local college. Recently I have began to really like the idea of teaching, but I do have doubts about it being a good fit for me. Which of the two plans sounds best? Is being shy a good reason to not teach despite my new passion for it?

achan1058
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby achan1058 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

How many years do you think you can endure unmotivated kids, or even kids who "intentionally" get bad grades and be annoying in class just because it is "cool"? You usually won't see those in tutoring, even if the people you are tutoring aren't bright by any means.

Ralith The Third
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Ralith The Third » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:35 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:How many years do you think you can endure unmotivated kids, or even kids who "intentionally" get bad grades and be annoying in class just because it is "cool"? You usually won't see those in tutoring, even if the people you are tutoring aren't bright by any means.

Yeah. If you're patient, and willing to ignore stuff, it's not a big problem, but you have to be good at math, be willing to help, and NOT get bitter after four years and take it out on the kids.
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fleft
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby fleft » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:15 pm UTC

I would like to think I am a pretty patient person, but I guess I can see the kids getting to me after a long time. But still, I like explaining things, I like helping, and I like algebra and calculus so I think I want to do it...

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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:53 pm UTC

I too loved tutoring and it made me consider teaching. However, you need to consider whether or not you can prepare a 45 minute lecture, daily, and speak clearly and concisely to a range of students. Tutoring, I would wager, is easier then teaching. I get stage fright speaking in front of groups, and struggled a bit at first leading labs, but you'll get the hang of it.
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Jorpho
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Jorpho » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:20 am UTC

I was quite good at tutoring once. Then after one semester of doing lab demonstrations I ran screaming from the idea of ever teaching again.

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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Reynardthefox » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:58 am UTC

I went through the full "teacher preparation" program at Yale more than 20 years ago, and although I never taught in secondary school as I originally planned, I can confidently report that those who did, turned out to be the most successful (in a "life sense") out of all my classmate with which I kept contact. To this day, I've done a lot of corporate presentation work as well as curriculum development and training. All have depended on my work in teacher prep. I since have started teaching at a graduate level (in a local full-time MBA program) and wonder whether or not I should have pursued it from the beginning. There is something tremendously satisfying about helping others and about standing in front of a group of students and leading them in their education. Teaching is a commitment you can make one year at a time, and if you work hard and put your effort into it, it will form a foundation for virtually any profession you could want to pursue. It's also very humbling. Not a bad thing at all.

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Peripatetic
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Peripatetic » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:21 am UTC

I know this is thread necromancy, but I feel this section of the forum needs more topics for teachers.

Some advice from a recent drop-out from a credentialing program:

Your ability in math is the least important factor in determining if you'll be a good teacher--important, yes, but the fact that you're graduating from college means you already have more than enough math knowledge. The primary skill you need to learn is classroom management--how you get kids' attention; how you transition between activities; how you accommodate different skill levels, personalities, etc. What makes a good teacher is preparation. What's the procedure for how the students enter class, turn in homework, get permission to speak, and all the rest. Read Harry Wong's "The First Days of School" for good information on how to structure a class. What are the rules your students have to follow? What are the consequences for breaking rules? This is what you should be learning in your teacher training courses.

I was also a tutor for many years. The difference between teaching and tutoring is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. You need to be able to interact with all sorts of learning styles and abilities simultaneously in a classroom. In one-on-one tutoring, I could adapt my instruction to the specific learning style of my protégé. You can't do that with 30 kids in your class. Again, how to handle this should be covered in your teacher training classes.

You will see kids who don't want to learn what you're teaching. In almost all cases, this is not a personal attack on you or your subject. Perhaps they've had trouble with the subject in the past and refuse to attempt the work so they won't fail again. Perhaps there is trouble at home and they can't find a space to study. It's not personal, but it will be frustrating. One of the reasons I quit is because I didn't want to deal with students who didn't want to listen or learn. I only wanted to teach to the "good" students.

If you enter the teaching program, at least half of it will consist of student-teaching, wherein you will gradually take over a high school or middle school classroom under the supervision of an experienced teacher. It will be during this time that you will discover a lot about yourself and how you handle students.

As an added bonus, if you finish the program and get a job as a teacher, you won't feel like you know what you're doing until you've been teaching for 3-5 years.

Now, some actual encouragement:

There is nothing shameful or disappointing about becoming a teacher. It is hard work to become one and hard work to be one. It is a noble profession that deserves more respect (and pay). Anyone who says "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," deserves to lose a few teeth by blunt force trauma. The ones who claim we get to end the day early and get summers off don't realize that a teacher works through weekends and holidays. I'm not sure how teaching cannot meet your parents' expectations, unless they are equating "expectations" with "salary."

School districts everywhere are desperate for math and science teachers. I was just at an education job fair last week and many districts around the country are paying signing bonuses and offering higher salaries for these subjects. In fact, in Washington, D.C., there is a program in which teachers can give up tenure and receive merit pay of up to $120,000 a year.

Shyness and dislike of public speaking are usually not hard to overcome. It's just a matter of doing it over and over until it's no longer uncomfortable. Plus, you'll be surprised how young and non-threatening high schoolers look after 4-5 years of being at college.

After everything else, if you find out later that you don't like it, you can always change careers. 50% of teachers quit within 5 years.

I'm not trying to discourage you from teaching. I'm trying to tell you that it will be hard. It's a job. There will be a lot of times when it will not be fun. The key question is, can the good days sustain you through the bad?

A better plan than tutoring for a year is to contact some math teachers at local high schools and ask if you can visit their classes and watch them teach for a few days. You will most likely have to observe classrooms anyway before you even apply for teacher education. Try to see many different teachers at many different schools--especially schools in different neighborhoods (schools in Pacific Palisades are very different from those in Compton). Talk to the teachers after class or after school and get their views on the profession.



One last thing:

Do not go by what you see in Hollywood teacher movies. See my rant in the "Who wants to be a thousandaire" thread here.

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Daojia
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Daojia » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:55 am UTC

Damn straight. I did placements at schools last year and the first thing I noticed was how inconsequential the subject matter is to actually being a teacher. The overwhelming majority of it all was classroom management, in terms of organisation and in terms of the relationships you develop with students. Initially it was hellishly difficult, but you get the hang of it, like any job.
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby psyck0 » Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:44 am UTC

I talked to some of my HS teachers about becoming one myself. They all told me not to. They said I'd like the job but wouldn't be able to stand the bureaucracy. That's the real question you have to ask yourself, I think: whether or not you can deal with a teaching staff of about 40% idiots, principals who are completely spineless and give in to the whims of retarded parents and Basic Human Decency, and just generally dealing with stupid nutcases about their kids, which everyone is so damn passionate about. You'll have to do things that you know are 100% wrong, you'll have to lie to the kids, and if you're male, you'll have to be careful not to inadvertently get any sexual misconduct charges laid against you.

The plus side is that it is a very worthwhile job, and if you're good at it, that side is very rewarding. Ultimately I decided on psychiatry, which is ALSO a very worthwhile job. I'd choose teaching over any scummy shit like stock broker or intellectual property lawyer, though.

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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:04 am UTC

Ever heard the maxim "Those that can, Do. Those that can't, Teach"?

It is unfair to lump career educators who took degrees with an educational focus always intending to teach, with people who got a bad degree, rushed a teaching cert and decided to 'settle for' being a teacher; the former tend to be very good, the latter are often the mediocre to poor staff who don't actually enjoy their job, which is silly because it lets the kids they teach down, and makes them feel like shit at the same time.

What I'm trying to say is: if you're not prepared to be committed to education as a vocation, rather than a 9-5 job, go do something related to your course.
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Daojia
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Daojia » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:25 am UTC

psyck0 wrote:I talked to some of my HS teachers about becoming one myself. They all told me not to. They said I'd like the job but wouldn't be able to stand the bureaucracy. That's the real question you have to ask yourself, I think: whether or not you can deal with a teaching staff of about 40% idiots, principals who are completely spineless and give in to the whims of retarded parents and Basic Human Decency, and just generally dealing with stupid nutcases about their kids, which everyone is so damn passionate about. You'll have to do things that you know are 100% wrong, you'll have to lie to the kids, and if you're male, you'll have to be careful not to inadvertently get any sexual misconduct charges laid against you.

The plus side is that it is a very worthwhile job, and if you're good at it, that side is very rewarding. Ultimately I decided on psychiatry, which is ALSO a very worthwhile job. I'd choose teaching over any scummy shit like stock broker or intellectual property lawyer, though.


Being a male teacher is insane, especially in primary schools. On my first day of placement I was told in all seriousness that the most physical contact I could have with the kids was a high five. Someone had a complaint made against them for physically lifting one kid off the ground, even though the kid in question was beating the hell out of another one.

I was encouraged to wait in the staff room for everyone else to sit down before I did, to reduce the risk of stealing another teacher's 'favourite' chair. Yes, the power struggles are truly that petty. Teachingis worthwhile. Some teachers, on the other hand, are worse than the kids. And parents are worse still. All the same, watch the teacher rant posted above, and do it!
Sapere aude.

TheLoneAmigo
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby TheLoneAmigo » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:52 pm UTC

Daojia wrote:Damn straight. I did placements at schools last year and the first thing I noticed was how inconsequential the subject matter is to actually being a teacher. The overwhelming majority of it all was classroom management, in terms of organisation and in terms of the relationships you develop with students. Initially it was hellishly difficult, but you get the hang of it, like any job.


Doesn't that really speak about how little of school is actually about education, and how much is essentially state-mandated childcare?

I'm currently looking at the possibility of a brief stint in teaching after I graduate from my economics degree - there's a program around that takes high-achieving graduates from outside of the education faculty and gets them to teach in very disadvantaged schools for a few years after they graduate. Undertaking the program would probably be a really good career move for me - it's a prestigious program, with most of the teachers going on to high-flying careers in the business world, and I'd learn a lot of useful skills - management, presentation, dealing with stress, etc.

The problem is, I come from a philosophical and practical perspective that's very skeptical about the value of "schooling" per say. I mean, I took myself out of school for a few years of high school and educated myself with no permanent damage, and many of my friends come from alternative education backgrounds. I tend to think that the school system is a little corrupt (look at all the horror stories in this thread), and doesn't respect the children it "tries" to educate. I certainly appreciate good teachers - you can't learn everything by yourself - and I think there's a place for schools, but the system as it stands is massively flawed.

My question is, can someone who has my background and distrust of the system succeed as a teacher? If I went through this, I wouldn't be looking to change the system - just to respect and assist the kids I teach. But can I really make a difference?

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Jorpho
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Jorpho » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:06 pm UTC

TheLoneAmigo wrote:My question is, can someone who has my background and distrust of the system succeed as a teacher? If I went through this, I wouldn't be looking to change the system - just to respect and assist the kids I teach. But can I really make a difference?
You come across as very idealistic. I think the experience would fix that. Whether or not you'd be better off that way is a matter of some debate, but I think it quite likely that the process would be more than a little painful.

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Ixtellor
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:14 pm UTC

TheLoneAmigo wrote:My question is, can someone who has my background and distrust of the system succeed as a teacher? If I went through this, I wouldn't be looking to change the system - just to respect and assist the kids I teach. But can I really make a difference?


1) When parents feel you are trying to subvert their children bad things happen. Unless its a school with a high number of economically disadvantage students in which you will find lots of the parents don't give a damn what you teach their kids.

2) Could you elaborate on "respect and assist".

One thing the kids pick up on is the difference between teachers who respect them as human beings, and those that do not. This will lead to them respecting you more, but it does not translate automatically into good behavior. A Kid can respect you a great deal and call you "the best teacher ever" but it doesn't mean they will behave.

Did you mean "make the material accessable" when you said assist?
Maybe you meant "give them the time and personal attention" they need to succeed.
If it was #1 then yes you can make a big difference.
If you meant #2 you will probably be dissapointed to find out how little time you actually have. The State mandated Tests are going to be a major obstacle to making sure "no child is left behind".

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Mr. Freeman
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Mr. Freeman » Fri May 01, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Peripatetic wrote:Anyone who says "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," deserves to lose a few teeth by blunt force trauma. The ones who claim we get to end the day early and get summers off...

Unfortunately, there's quite a lot of teachers that do just that. I understand that you can't lump an entire profession into the "lazy" category but you can't do the opposite either. You can't say that all teachers are competent and deserve more money, because there's a lot that fit the "Those who can't..." description perfectly.

psyck0 wrote:You'll have to do things that you know are 100% wrong, you'll have to lie to the kids, and if you're male, you'll have to be careful not to inadvertently get any sexual misconduct charges laid against you.

Could you elaborate on this? The sexual misconduct charges make sense, people are all fucking freaked out about pedophiles. But when does a good teacher need to lie to the students, or do something completely wrong? What do you mean be wrong? Technically wrong, or ethically wrong?

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Jorpho
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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Jorpho » Sat May 02, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

Mr. Freeman wrote:But when does a good teacher need to lie to the students, or do something completely wrong? What do you mean be wrong? Technically wrong, or ethically wrong?
I can easily imagine situations where it is easier to tell students a gross oversimplication that isn't particularly truthy than it would be to give then a long-winded explanation that would take too long and be largely misunderstood by those who tried to pay attention anyway.

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Re: Becoming a Teacher

Postby Mr. Freeman » Sun May 03, 2009 1:51 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
Mr. Freeman wrote:But when does a good teacher need to lie to the students, or do something completely wrong? What do you mean be wrong? Technically wrong, or ethically wrong?
I can easily imagine situations where it is easier to tell students a gross oversimplication that isn't particularly truthy than it would be to give then a long-winded explanation that would take too long and be largely misunderstood by those who tried to pay attention anyway.

Yeah, but simplification isn't a lie and it's not wrong, technically or ethically.


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