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10 weeks off is enough
Old 01-27-2015, 03:25 PM   #1
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10 weeks off is enough

I've always thought that 10 weeks of vacation would be enough and early retirement would be less of a priority. I'll never have that amount of paid time off while employed at mega.

I have often thought about changing careers to become a math/science teacher. Problem solved right? Steady pay with lots of time off to enjoy hobbies. Any insight?
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Old 01-27-2015, 03:53 PM   #2
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Becoming a teacher for the time off is about the worst reason to teach.
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Old 01-27-2015, 03:55 PM   #3
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There are more than a couple of current and former teachers on the forum, I'm sure some will be along shortly to tell how it really is.
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Old 01-27-2015, 03:59 PM   #4
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Thought about it a few times in my career. You also forgot about good pension (unless in charter schools). There were several brick walls I found in front of me.
1. typically have to go back and get teaching credentials.... more school. Engineering may not carry over very well.
2. Union shop... start at the bottom of the rung. No experience points or credit for other career/experience, or recognition of math or science being a needed resource.

Early in my career (sorry.. no such thing... string of jobs) I looked at the teaching test guides.. did not look all that bad. note I'm not trying to infer that it is easy, I just tended to test well at that time in my life

I do know one man who went back to work teaching (non-science) in a charter school. Did need to get his teaching credentials. He works about 5 hours a day... off summers. Low pay. Seems to enjoy it.

I likely should have bit the bullet when I was younger and made the change. I did too many 12 to 16 hour days over my career (sorry.. string of jobs). There was a couple years in the early 90's that I averaged 100hr/wk at the job.

Things to watch out for.... politics in schools and how well you deal/interact with the kids.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:02 PM   #5
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Becoming a teacher for the time off is about the worst reason to teach.
You forgot to mention the steady pay.
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10 weeks off is enough
Old 01-27-2015, 04:09 PM   #6
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10 weeks off is enough

I've never been a teacher, but I believe being retired is much better. 10 weeks a year is not enough to fully explore one's hobbies.


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Old 01-27-2015, 04:11 PM   #7
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I'd suggest spending some time talking to actual teachers in the area where you'd be looking. 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. And that summer off isn't as long as you think when preparing for the next year and getting a classroom ready are factored in. In a lot of areas, the pensions aren't good at all for new teachers, more like a 401(k).

And they'd either laugh or cry at the idea of teaching as a job where you have plenty of time to work on hobbies.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:12 PM   #8
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I would look long and hard at your district.

Some are hiring, most around here are laying off/pushing early retirement.

Pay is crappy at first going to slightly less crappy with length of service and credit for additional education. At some point you can max out (at least in our district) were the only raise possible is the union negotiated COLA increase.

Yes summers, winter break, and spring break off. But the teachers I know work 60-80 hours/week during the school year. Summer is shorter because there is time at school before the first day of class.

My MBA corporate sister switched to teaching in her mid 30's. She makes a lot less than she would. She has a pension coming to her - but has the corresponding WEP reduction of SS. For her, it's her passion. She got a single subject math credential as a personal goal. She teaches GATE/seminar 5th graders (a class that is 100% gifted and genius kids). If she hadn't been given this opportunity she might be looking at ER like me.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:21 PM   #9
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The "lots of time off" is often an illusion. My bride is a high school teacher in her 26th year of teaching. She arrives at school before 7:00 am every morning and does not leave before about 5:30 pm. At least some part of most weeknights and every weekend is devoted to grading, getting supplies, lesson planning, writing letters of recommendation for her seniors, or some other school related activity.

As far as the summers go, it is better now than when she first started. For about the first 15 years, she was in school herself most of every summer, getting certified in additional subjects (for job security) and adding additional degrees (for better pay). She still goes in during the summer to work on student scheduling, take equipment inventory, get her class set up for the next year, work on curriculum development, and a number of other tasks.

It is not an easy job. In fact, over the years we have seen plenty of people who have been very successful in other careers fail at teaching. Being smart and hardworking does not necessarily mean that you can control, inspire and educate teenagers.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:38 PM   #10
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You forgot to mention the steady pay.

No. I did not. Even with one's pay pro-rated over 12 months it's still not a good reason to be a teacher. I never considered giving an interest free loan to my employer to be a reason to take a job. 😯. Hey, I taught some math and know about things like present value. 😃
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:41 PM   #11
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It is not an easy job. In fact, over the years we have seen plenty of people who have been very successful in other careers fail at teaching. Being smart and hardworking does not necessarily mean that you can control, inspire and educate teenagers.
This. I could never be a teacher - I don't have the temperment at all. I'd be one of those awful teachers screaming at the kids as the classroom erupted in chaos.

Kids sense weakness and they'd be all over me.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:56 PM   #12
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There are a heck of lot easier ways to get a steady paycheck and pension/retirement plan than teaching where, as others have already pointed out, the demands and responsibilities are myriad, and the work hours extend long beyond the typical school day.

I am not a teacher but observing family and friends who have spent years in the profession have convinced me that teaching is not for the faint of heart and something you have to really want to do apart from the pay/benefits (which sadly is not all that great in my opinion in most places unless you have many, many years under your belt).

Without exception, the children of my friends who graduated as newly-minted teachers have had to leave PA in order to get their first jobs and relocate to states (at their own expense) where pay/benefits are much lower. This is even in the STEM fields. I don't know if it is true or not, but some people allege you have to have "connections" to come right out of school and land a teaching job around here. I have also known people who knocked themselves out for years working as substitute teachers all the while getting lots of positive feedback from the school districts, but when a full-time job opens up it goes to someone else.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:01 PM   #13
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If you have a master's, try your hand at teaching at the community college level.
You may be able to pick up a night class, keep your day job, and see how you like
teaching.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:02 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:03 PM   #15
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There are some strange requirements - just today I saw an article about a retired guy wanted to teach a foreign language, French, I think, and even though he taught at West Point (where I would imagine they're kind of picky about who teaches) he was denied here in WV because he didn't have an undergraduate degree in teaching. Go figure.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:12 PM   #16
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There are some strange requirements - just today I saw an article about a retired guy wanted to teach a foreign language, French, I think, and even though he taught at West Point (where I would imagine they're kind of picky about who teaches) he was denied here in WV because he didn't have an undergraduate degree in teaching. Go figure.
This is the "getting teaching credentials" that I had referred to in my post. Often very rigid rules.

On bad part of being a teacher (or at least one I knew) When she changed school districts (same state), she started over on her pension and seniority. As my job changed, yes pensions were lost, but SS still accumulated. Seniority meant little, employment was at will. I could quit when I wanted... and they could let me go when they wanted.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:16 PM   #17
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If you have a master's, try your hand at teaching at the community college level.
You may be able to pick up a night class, keep your day job, and see how you like
teaching.

This is definitely what I would recommend. The technical colleges are a great choice. Not great pay, but interesting work. I've taken quite a few classes from folks either supplementing their regular jobs or retirees looking for something to do. Most were excellent.


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Old 01-27-2015, 08:29 PM   #18
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There are several things to consider,many of which have been covered already,

1) Time - I taught physics and for much of my 15 years I only taught physics. If you can get a job that allows you to only prepare for one class, then you might not need to work the 60+ hours/week that many teachers report. Especially if that one class is math or science. I did a lot of work early in my career writing a lab manual and I took advantage of technology to utilize on-line/self-grading homework services. During my last 5 years I was putting in a pretty standard 40 hour week and getting excellent performance from my students.
2) Students - You must find a way to like children. This is what finally drove me out of the classroom. I taught physics because I liked physics. As long as I could teach physics to students who wanted to learn physics, I was ok. But eventually the "other" students wore me out. Hall duty, chaperoning dances, helping out at sporting events, lunch duty - all of these things show students at their worst. I have often told my wife that I wouldn't mind teaching one section of AP physics in retirement. BUT - they would have to let me come in a back door, teach the class and leave. NO other duties. Teaching can be tough on introverts.
3) Sometimes it seems that high school teachers were there because they never wanted to leave high school. Even in the college town setting where I finished my career, the faculty was not a bunch of intellectual giants. There were too many teachers whose motivation to be in the classroom was so that they could coach.
4) The pay is pretty miserable as a new teacher and the pension is only good if you enter teaching young and make a career of it. I didn't enter a classroom until I was past 30 and put in 15 years. My pension will pay for food and golf, but that's about it. The pensions are heavily weighted to award long tenure in the classroom.
5) Summers "off" - This was a perk, no doubt about it. I played lots of golf in the summer. When I needed to take classes to keep my certification I was always able to find a way to do something fun. I took geophysics classes to brush up on wave theory/calculus/geology. I worked with scientists to help build a prototype detector for the proton accelerator at CERN. I learned how to use MATLAB. The one thing I didn't do, however, was feel like I needed to earn money. DW and I were able to LBYM and this meant that I didn't feel the pressure to take on a second job in the summer as many of my fellow teachers did to support their new car/big house habits.

I was a second career teacher and I know many others- some have succeeded and some moved on to other things.

Sorry to join the conversation late, but this decision is a tough one. In many respects I found teaching to be incredibly easy - I was really my own boss in many ways, I could actually "work smarter" and reduce my workload, instead of just attracting more work and I really had a knack for communicating with talented students. However, the emotional toll it took on me was finally too much. During my last year in the classroom I would come home and go to the music room and play music for hours. I just couldn't bear being around people, even DW. DW didn't think much of this.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:29 PM   #19
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It was never enough when I was in school, and time goes by much faster now.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:35 PM   #20
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Might I suggest "substitute teaching"? Put on a movie cause you know the kids aren't going to listen to you anyway!
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