Friday, January 04, 2008

To teach, or -- to teach?

Kristina had a post that caught my eye early this week at Autism Vox. She quoted a recent article about careers that made me pause and think about my work and my role as teacher.
The article broke down what they call an "overrated" career into three categories: the appeal, the reality, and alternatives.
The paperwork for renewing my teaching license sits next to my computer. My five-year license cycle ends in June, and I need to take care of this little detail before then. Actually, I plan to do this tomorrow. I'll download and print the application for renewal from our state's Department of Public Instruction (DPI, to us folks who report to them regularly), fill it out, get it notarized, and then mail it with my check and my transcript documenting my continuing education requirement as soon as possible.
On the surface, it looks like a classic MasterCard commercial.
License application: $100
Transcript documenting six credits of continuing education, within the last licensing cycle of five years: $5
Tuition to earn 6 credits (see above): $2000, as part of a Masters Degree
Postage: about $1
Getting to keep my day job: well, you know the script.

Overrated? Well, maybe. According to US News and World Report, an alternative would be working as a tutor or teaching in a private school. They forget that these positions have very low pay and rarely carry benefits of any kind. but also according to their article, teachers who stick with the career can end up earning six figure incomes. Um, no, not realistically. A few (emphasis: few) administrators such as school superintendents might make salaries in the low six figures, but not many. And in my state, our incomes (including benefits) are regulated and limited by law.
I sincerely enjoy my work. The daily challenge, the interactions with children and their parents, collaborating with others who are passionate about teaching, and more, contribute to a fascinating career. I teach with some of the most caring and generous people in the world, and none of us would consider our work "overrated."
But if a careerist wants to talk alternatives, why not think about other jobs that use teaching skills? I've trained other teachers to use computer technology effectively. I've written for professional journals. Colleagues often look to me for advice in mediating conflicts and dealing with emotionally charged issues. (They've asked me to run for office, too, but I declined.) Add that to the fact that I can speak in complete sentences and I'm not afraid to talk to a difficult crowd (I hear my fellow teachers laughing in sympathy already), current CPR (including AED), First Aid, and more. All of those skills would be useful in other work settings. Few if any teachers are limited to working in school buildings and only school settings.
No, I'm not going to leave my job. But if I did, I wouldn't be as limited as US News and World Report might imply.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Flea said...

There's always community or state, even private colleges. My husband teaches college and works with many ex-school teachers. My aunt is retiring from public school teaching and transitioning to college. If you wanted to leave the K-12 scene. There's probably a higher percentage of students who actually want to be in class.

Teaching is a tough job. You're to be admired and commended. :)

1/04/2008 9:33 PM  
Blogger Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

Amen to what flea said -- you are to be commended. As a social worker for a public school system, I am in awe of the teaching staff. Their never ending passion and commitment to those kids and their families is...well, I can't think of a word that would do justice. I must admit that until I began working for the school system, I thought teaching was one of those "easy" jobs. I certainly learned quickly that their commitment and work doesn't end when the bell rings. Kudos to you :)

Also, kudos on getting your article published!

1/04/2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

I sure appreciate the work my kids' teachers go to, they're really fabulous. I'm glad they stuck with it and I'm sure there were some nasty days they've faced.

1/05/2008 1:33 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

amen, amen and amen. There's a LOT a former teacher can do--I'm a former English teacher writing website content and editing on a freelance basis and I make more per hour than I would subbing--and I do it from home. I may return to the classroom when my life allows, but if it doesn't? So many other ways to apply myself.

1/05/2008 7:55 AM  

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