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Old 01-27-2015, 09:06 PM   #21
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I've been a volunteer "math helper" for grades 6-7-8 for 4 years now, just 5-10 hours a week. What I've learned:
1. Good teachers work harder than I ever did in corporate world.
2. Bad teachers either leave or get bitter / angry and seem to lead miserable lives
3. Every now and then I get a real connection -almost like seeing a light bulb go on over the kid's head -and that's what keeps me coming back!
Volunteering works for me, I could never do it full time.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:54 PM   #22
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DB and DF both claimed to like teaching CC, though neither are doing it now.

I enjoyed being a TA in grad school but I am not willing to enroll again.

If I were to teach, it'd be at the CC level: adults who are not there for the prestige or Greek scene.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:35 AM   #23
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I taught briefly in my 20s. It was hard and definitely not for me. But it can be a great life if you like it. I know a pair of childless married teachers who traveled the world in their summers. They loved teaching, loved traveling, didn't want kids, and flourished. But they are not typical.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:02 AM   #24
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Teaching does not appeal to me at all, but an admin assistant to the principals, counselors etc. sounds like it might be a nice bridge-to-retirement job for me.
My wife ended her working career in the superintendent's office. It became less than fun real quickly. In a campus it depends heavily on who is the principal.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:00 AM   #25
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... Most I know in this area work incredibly long hours during the school year, are under constant pressure to do more uncompensated tasks, have to spend more time documenting what they've taught than actually teaching, endure ridiculous pressure from parents and administration, and have to deal with truly awful behavior from students with little support. Morale isn't good at all. ... In a lot of areas, the pensions aren't good at all for new teachers, more like a 401(k). ...
Sounds a lot like the private sector, except without the summers free, and no time off on the holidays (major shipments going on right up through the EOY! Gotta make the Quarter! Be in, or at least be on call!), and substitute 'what pensions?' for 'the pensions aren't good at all' !

Though I agree with others not to make the change solely for the summers and other time off. You owe it to the kids to be 'into it' and do a great job. And the skill sets for being a great teacher may be very different from being great in some other field. I didn't get a feel for how long you'd be teaching (just a few years before full retirement, or a real 'career'?). But if you are going to be more towards a short time (say 10 years or less), you probably don't care that much about taking classes in the summer for advancement. But if you want to make it a career, you probably will need to think about that.

Also, as far as steady pay, one thing I need to get off my chest: When you hear the media (or the Union) say that the teachers in some area 'have not received a raise in three years' or some such, you need to translate that if you are a private sector employee. From what I've seen, they did get a 'raise' - by contract, [had to edit a typo:] a 5 6 year teacher makes more than a 6 5 year teacher. So you get more money next year. In the private sector, this is called 'a raise'. I the school system, this is not a raise, they bury it under the name 'step increase', and wave the 'no raise' flag. Also, when they are not getting 'raises', they may qualify for more pay through those classes they take during the summer. But again, they don't call that a raise - in the private sector, when your base salary increases, it is a 'raise' .

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Old 01-28-2015, 09:16 AM   #26
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Also, as far as steady pay, one thing I need to get off my chest: When you hear the media (or the Union) say that the teachers in some area 'have not received a raise in three years' or some such, you need to translate that if you are a private sector employee. From what I've seen, they did get a 'raise' - by contract, a 5 year teacher makes more than a 6 year teacher. So you get more money next year. In the private sector, this is called 'a raise'. I the school system, this is not a raise, they bury it under the name 'step increase', and wave the 'no raise' flag. Also, when they are not getting 'raises', they may qualify for more pay through those classes they take during the summer. But again, they don't call that a raise - in the private sector, when your base salary increases, it is a 'raise' .

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Oh my, you are such a "hater." I am being sarcastic.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:38 AM   #27
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Sounds a lot like the private sector, except without the summers free, and no time off on the holidays (major shipments going on right up through the EOY! Gotta make the Quarter! Be in, or at least be on call!), and substitute 'what pensions?' for 'the pensions aren't good at all' !

...snip...

Also, as far as steady pay, one thing I need to get off my chest: When you hear the media (or the Union) say that the teachers in some area 'have not received a raise in three years' or some such, you need to translate that if you are a private sector employee. From what I've seen, they did get a 'raise' - by contract, a 5 year teacher makes more than a 6 year teacher. So you get more money next year. In the private sector, this is called 'a raise'. I the school system, this is not a raise, they bury it under the name 'step increase', and wave the 'no raise' flag. Also, when they are not getting 'raises', they may qualify for more pay through those classes they take during the summer. But again, they don't call that a raise - in the private sector, when your base salary increases, it is a 'raise' .

-ERD50
+1 A couple of times early in my teaching career I brought this up and (not quickly enough) learned to keep my mouth shut. There were two times in 15 years (two different school districts) where we were denied the step increase due to budget cuts. So there can be no raises, but it is pretty unusual.

Private sector vs. teaching - Personally, I always thought teaching was less stressful with respect to deadline pressures. The schedule for the year was laid out ahead of you and, except for snow days, pep rallies, and other nonsense, there weren't a lot of surprises along the way. Others might disagree.

One downside to the vacation issue. The only problem I really had with teaching and vacations is that they occur at the same time as everyone else's vacations. You can't take advantage of shoulder seasons, you can't avoid crowds, you can't easily find discounts, you can't travel to big cities during the concert season. A small issue, perhaps, but the first time I was able to vacation in October when I was back in the private sector was wonderful.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:46 AM   #28
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One downside to the vacation issue. The only problem I really had with teaching and vacations is that they occur at the same time as everyone else's vacations. You can't take advantage of shoulder seasons, you can't avoid crowds, you can't easily find discounts, you can't travel to big cities during the concert season. A small issue, perhaps, but the first time I was able to vacation in October when I was back in the private sector was wonderful.
I was going to bring this up. I'm not a teacher, but DH and I rarely travel anywhere major in the summer. (The exception was Alaska.) Just too darn many people jamming the places you want to visit, and too much competition for airline seats especially if you're trying to redeem miles.

I'm also saddened by the posts I see on FB from friends who are still teaching. Common core and the proliferation of standardized testing have really worn them down. Your hands are really tied when it comes to what you teach and how you teach it. Teaching isn't what it used to be.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:47 AM   #29
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One other thought, just because somebody is good at something does not mean they can teach it well. I am thinking of a brilliant math professor in college. But, he routinely left his students confused at the end of the class.

IMHO, somebody who has struggled to master a subject is often a better teacher since they have a better understanding of what the student is going through. Of course, experience and training can really help to improve one's teaching ability. Alas, most school systems I am familiar with do not provide much time for that. So plan on doing it on your own time.

Most professional jobs require more than 40 hours a week. Whatever happened to the 32 hour, 4 day work week that George Jetson had??
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:01 AM   #30
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I'm also saddened by the posts I see on FB from friends who are still teaching. Common core and the proliferation of standardized testing have really worn them down. Your hands are really tied when it comes to what you teach and how you teach it. Teaching isn't what it used to be.
Three math curricula in five years. The last being implemented the year I left.

I do like the idea of common core, and I think the state governors who thought it up had the right idea. Just don't be to rigid, and lengthen the school year to allow time to actually teach the material and not rush through it.

In fact, I would like to see better control over the order that things are taught. As a math teacher it was very frustrating to teach decimals in the first half of the year and then fractions in the second half. Only to have new kids transfer in half way through the year and find out they was taught fractions in the first half and still needed to learn decimals.

Oh, disband the Department of Education and give the money to parents to pay for highly customized after school tutoring. That would really help.

OK, I am way off in the political quicksand now.
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:26 AM   #31
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OK, I need to mention the upside to teaching.

DD, who is currently teaching 3rd grade, just got a wonderful note from a parent about her son who is incredibly enthusiastic about their current "Africa project". Apparently he wants to make a full size camel replica and buy some camel meat to feed to the other kids at school, among other things. The parent concludes with "Needless to say we are going to scale back those plans." But DD regularly gets positive feedback like this from parents in her current position. This was not always the case when she was teaching in high-poverty schools (although it did happen).

The reward for teaching is not the pay or the vacation or the pension. It comes in the times you get this kind of feedback from parents and students. For several years after I left the classroom, I would run into former students in all kinds of places - airport, conferences, random business meetings. They were always excited to tell me how my class had influenced their choices in majors and careers. The funny thing is, if I had stayed in the classroom, I might never had gotten this feedback.

This is something to keep in mind as you consider your decision. Depending on where you teach, this type of feedback can be very rare, but when it happens it makes one feel good about having been a teacher.
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:29 AM   #32
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Excellent view points and comments from the group. I expected nothing less. I still think back to my high school chemistry teacher who was also my football coach and sometimes fishing buddy. At 17 years old I wanted to be him.

He talked me out of pursuing a career as a chemistry teacher(probably for the reasons listed by others) and since I love science and math convinced me to study chemical engineering. By far the second best decision made in my life(marrying DW was the 1st). Fast forward 20 or so years and I'm not going to progress much more in my career and 3 weeks of vacation is not enough time when work weeks are often long or away from home. The days of saving mega corp millions here and millions there just doesn't motivate like it used to.

While I agree teaching is not easy and takes a certain something, usually things in life worth having are not easy and takes hard work and even dealing with politics or union rules. To get that sense of accomplishment and excitement back and a little extra time off I think it's worth a try. Heck I might actually be able to volunteer coach a little league team each summer which is impossible now with unpredictable work schedule.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:32 AM   #33
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also, a lot of the teachers can recycle the lesson plan from the previous year
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Old 01-28-2015, 03:34 PM   #34
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The reward for teaching is not the pay or the vacation or the pension. It comes in the times you get this kind of feedback from parents and students.
Uhuh. Nevertheless, teachers strike and walkout etc. when it will maximally disrupt the students, and the issues seem to be money, pension, hours, and classroom size. Now classroom size seems to be about something other than money, but it is about doing less for the same pay. It also automatically creates teacher demand, which seems to be a typical union butter and bread issue. Someone mentioned teachers failing. If the performance of students overall is a valid measure (and if it isn't, what is?) then the entire school system is failing which while not solely or necessarily mainly on the teachers, neither are they mere bystanders.

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Old 01-28-2015, 05:45 PM   #35
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In Connecticut, and I suspect many other states, it is against the law for teachers to strike or walkout. The last time it was tried here was 1978 in Bridgeport. A court found the striking teachers in contempt and put 274 of them in jail. But, regardless of that, why would you fault workers for trying to obtain the best employment terms that they can? Surely the rest of us want the best deal, including pay and pension, that we can get. And some of us may indeed value more highly than money the thought that we have changed lives and made a difference in the world.

As to your second point, schools are perhaps the ultimate in local effect. If the schools in Detroit are failing, we would hardly consider that an indictment of the school teachers, administrators, etc. in Beverly Hills. So your opinion that students are failing overall (and I don't concede that to be a fact) tells you nothing about any particular teacher or school. More importantly, condemning teachers "overall" offers you no way to fix the problems that do exist.

Finally, it is possible for a teacher to fail even in the best school system with the best test-taking students. Some people are simply not cut out for the classroom
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Old 01-28-2015, 06:10 PM   #36
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In Connecticut, and I suspect many other states, it is against the law for teachers to strike or walkout. The last time it was tried here was 1978 in Bridgeport. A court found the striking teachers in contempt and put 274 of them in jail. But, regardless of that, why would you fault workers for trying to obtain the best employment terms that they can? Surely the rest of us want the best deal, including pay and pension, that we can get. And some of us may indeed value more highly than money the thought that we have changed lives and made a difference in the world.

As to your second point, schools are perhaps the ultimate in local effect. If the schools in Detroit are failing, we would hardly consider that an indictment of the school teachers, administrators, etc. in Beverly Hills. So your opinion that students are failing overall (and I don't concede that to be a fact) tells you nothing about any particular teacher or school. More importantly, condemning teachers "overall" offers you no way to fix the problems that do exist.

Finally, it is possible for a teacher to fail even in the best school system with the best test-taking students. Some people are simply not cut out for the classroom
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:28 PM   #37
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In Connecticut, and I suspect many other states, it is against the law for teachers to strike or walkout. ...
Since I've lived in IL my whole life, and it isn't rare to hear about a teacher strike somewhere within the news coverage area, I never thought about them being illegal in other states. Turns out it isn't just illegal in 'many other', it is most other:

Teachers’ strikes are illegal in most states | Voxitatis® Blog

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States where teachers’ unions can legally call strikes

California
Colorado
Idaho
Illinois
Louisiana
Minnesota
Montana
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Vermont
I did not know that!


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... But, regardless of that, why would you fault workers for trying to obtain the best employment terms that they can? Surely the rest of us want the best deal, including pay and pension, that we can get. ...
Of course. But why can't teachers negotiate their total compensation (which includes the intangibles) one-on-one, like most other professionals? Having a Union negotiate for them, and having that Union donate to political campaigns puts the individual taxpayer (and therefore their kids) at a disadvantage.

The current system has lots of problems. A high-demand STEM teacher doesn't get paid anymore than a teacher in a subject area of lower demand. They all get paid the same (based on seniority and certifications and certain academic achievements - but not performance), so the kids don't get the quality of STEM teachers they should have, and we over-pay for the others. A better distribution of those resources would help the kids.

-ERD50
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:33 PM   #38
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I used to get 6 weeks a year but it wasn't enough, not sure 10 would work either. My SIL teachers high school sience and is frustrated by the system she works in.

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Old 01-28-2015, 08:48 PM   #39
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But why can't teachers negotiate their total compensation (which includes the intangibles) one-on-one, like most other professionals?
There are very few instances where an individual employee has anywhere near the same negotiating power as his or her employer. (C-suite executives being a possible exception). Moreover, unlike private businesses, teachers are paid through taxes. People hate taxes, and school boards respond to that pressure. If they could get the teachers to be indentured servants, I'm sure they'd be fine with that, because their property taxes would go down. The parents with students actually in the schools might be concerned, but the majority of taxpayers don't have kids in the schools. In fact, in casual conversation I often hear people in my town whine about the fact that they continue to pay taxes even though their kids are grown now. It's just another version of "I got mine. Too bad for the rest of you."
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:55 PM   #40
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Also, as far as steady pay, one thing I need to get off my chest: When you hear the media (or the Union) say that the teachers in some area 'have not received a raise in three years' or some such, you need to translate that if you are a private sector employee. From what I've seen, they did get a 'raise' - by contract, [had to edit a typo:] a 5 6 year teacher makes more than a 6 5 year teacher. So you get more money next year. In the private sector, this is called 'a raise'. I the school system, this is not a raise, they bury it under the name 'step increase', and wave the 'no raise' flag. Also, when they are not getting 'raises', they may qualify for more pay through those classes they take during the summer. But again, they don't call that a raise - in the private sector, when your base salary increases, it is a 'raise' .

-ERD50
I have no skin in this game, but I have to agree with the teachers, or any career for that matter, where there is a step schedule. If that schedule doesn't increase then there in effect is no raise. In other words, a 5 year teacher today shouldn't be paid what a 5 year teacher was paid 10 years ago. If that is the case, there has been no raise in 10 years. This is common. In my old company todays first year hire is paid exactly what a first year employee made in 2002 for the exact same job. That's not cool in my view.

The military is a good example where the pay schedule is adjusted most years. You'll notice a 10 year sergeant today isn't making what a 10 year sergeant made in 2000. This is due to annual pay raises to the pay schedule.
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