April 20, 2009

Want to switch careers...

... and become a teacher?

44 comments:

Chip Ahoy said...

... may be unrealistic, despite reports of a possible teacher shortage Despite. What does it take to become a NYT editor? A GED apparently.

save_the_rustbelt said...

In the short run, teachers are being laid off.

In a few years many of the boomers will qualify for early retirement with full pensions and medical, so except a lot of openings.

TosaGuy said...

Getting more teachers is a matter of making the certification process less byzantine. I have a masters in history, as well as a BA in education, minors in geography and political science, as well as classes in economics and psychology yet for me to be certified as a social studies teacher (that would only teach history), I STILL need a class in sociology in order to have full certification.

paul a'barge said...

Of the 5 people giving their little testimonies (and just wow, how little they are), only 2 are teachers. Here is what the first of those two wrote:
I couldn’t help but chuckle when after two months, this idealistic guy resigned. The kids had blown him awayWow.

This mutt is teaching children in a classroom and his reaction to the failure of an idealistic colleague is .... wait for it .... glee?

And we are asked to send our children every day to schools populated by this kind of person? And let them and their unions run over us?

Bissage said...

A friend of mine teaches at a very expensive prep school for boys near D.C.

His take on the situation?

“It definitely helps if you can kick their ass.”

traditionalguy said...

This is a great idea for the 62 and over who have "retired" and need an activity, and enjoy teaching. There are Universities from all over the country opening up adjunct campuses here in Georgia to partake of the golden flow of Hope Scholarships paid to every B student and above from Georgia Lottery money here.

The Drill SGT said...

“It definitely helps if you can kick their ass.”A memorable and excellent Honors english teacher in HS was a retired USMC Colonel. I learned a lot and he didn't take any crap :)

I taught freshman college math for 3 years in the Army, (BA Econometrics, MBA(OR)), but the teachers guild would not let me into a classroom.

Skyler said...

About six years ago the factory I worked in shut down and moved operations to Mexico. We went from a highly automated factory in Texas to an entirely manual factory somewhere south of the border.

A bunch of us had to look for jobs. One of my colleagues looked into teaching. Teacher pay was set on a rigid scale which partly depended on your educational background. Math and science courses got you extra pay.

My colleague thought that all his engineering courses would help him in that regard, but the bureaucrats said no. Those were engineering classes, not science classes.

Fortunately for my friend, he did get one credit for his pay. His freshman year in college he hadn't yet decided on a major and he took a frivolous geology 101, rocks for jocks class. That counted for a pay increase, but his engineering physics classes didn't.

Clearly, the teaching profession is dominated by idiots who don't know what engineering is.

TosaGuy said...

Wow, one of those in the article is a Daily Kos blogger. Not sure I trust his ability to be objective.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't remember my K-12 teachers being better than my college professors. So why the special cert for K-12? More people would want to teach if teaching didn't require spending time in the education department.

Freeman Hunt said...

Grossman: we may underestimate the skill required to engage a group of children or adolescents and ensure that they are learning.

Oh bull. If that were true, homeschooled children wouldn't be outperforming public and private schooled children. The need for specialized skill to do this is greatly overestimated, thus the needless cert requirements that keep many exceptional people out of the field.

Lisa said...

It is difficult to find a teaching job. Most of the good districts hire primary from long term subs who have proved themselves in the classroom. Even the good districts in affluent areas are cutting teaching positions through attrition.

Freeman Hunt said...

From the comments:

Where my mother taught, teachers did indeed earn tenure after three years, but suddenly that meant nothing when the school district laid off all secondary school teachers with less than six years experience in the district (she narrowly escaped by being in her seventh) and all elementary school teachers with less than EIGHT.

Perfect example of government incompetence at management. Who does that? What breed of idiot says, "We have to lay people off. Let's not keep our best people, let's just arbitrarily fire everyone who's been around less than six years. Easy!"

Of course, this decision was likely a consequence of teachers' union contracts. Worst. Union. Ever.

What a mess.

Joan said...

Freeman, it's not often I disagree with you, but I will here. It does take skill to manage a classroom, and the fact that you're a homeschooling advocate comes in part from your recognition of the fact that a lot of teachers can't, or won't, manage their classrooms and convey content in a way you find acceptable.

I read the whole panel, and the one that resonated the most with me -- midway through my teacher certification program here in AZ -- was the DailyKos contributer, Ken Bernstein.

I'm in my 3rd year of substitute teaching. My ability to read the classroom and tailor the day's lesson plans to the class is a big determinant of my success. It helps tremendously that I am smarter than most of the kids I'm dealing with, and that I have a good understanding of developmental psychology. The most important thing, though, is conveying a sense of respect to the children and expecting the same from them. Too many teachers don't respect the children they work with, and a significant number actively dislike kids.

I'm intrigued by this idea of tenure after 3 years. That's certainly not true in AZ, unless I missed something. Thousands (not hyperbole) of teachers are being released for next year as the state tries to make up tremendous budget shortfalls.

I'm hoping when I'm finally done with my program -- I'm taking my time and expect to be ready to teach full-time starting in fall 2012 -- they'll still be looking for high school science teachers. People complain about the ridiculous certification requirements and they have a point, when it comes to the knowing the subject content -- but the education classes I've had so far, with the exception of the ESL class, have all been excellent. There is a big difference between knowing something, and knowing how to teach it. There's also a big difference between teaching your own kid or kids and managing a class of 30, and I appreciate learning the techniques that other teachers have found successful.

ITA on the teacher's union, though. The only real benefit they provide is legal backup for teachers if parents sue them.

Freeman Hunt said...

Joan, I'm not sure that we do disagree to a great degree. I think I didn't express myself well on that skill comment.

I agree that one has to develop that skill, just like any other. But I think the need for education specialization to acquire it is greatly overestimated, and that an education cert in no way reflects an acquisition of that skill.

I think it's a skill that anyone can develop and is probably only really developed on the job, though not necessarily only on a school teaching job.

Aside: Glad you're going into teaching. If ONLY there were more teachers like you around.

Peter V. Bella said...

BRITISH CAREERS!

kynefski said...

Having been a teacher, I would only recommend it to people who have reason to think that they'd be really good at it. It's a profession that many otherwise qualified people would find miserable.

TosaGuy said...

I learned more in six weeks of military instructor training in how to manage a classroom and engage students than I did in 30 credits of an education degree. It is not as hard as credentialed people want to make it seem to be.

Skyler said...

TosaGuy, I agree. I've found that the quality of teaching is much better in the military and even in the civilian world where an industry is paying someone to teach employees, than in high schools or colleges.

The emphasis is on making sure people learn rather than on babysitting in high school or getting tenure in college.

I'm amazed at the pathetic approach to teaching at universities. You pay a LOT of money to get what is usually very slip shod teaching most of the time.

And please don't let's pretend that what you learn in the military is not as complex as what you learn in a university. I've seen highly technical subjects, and even liberal arts subjects taught much more thoroughly in military classes.

It's the emphasis on getting students to learn that matters. If you define the skills to be learned, it's amazing how well students learn. Most professors don't do that. They hide what is being taught and especially in law school they spend the class time trying to impress us with their socratic method or their own importance.

Joe said...

If that were true, homeschooled children wouldn't be outperforming public and private schooled children.They don't. The most comprehensive studies have found that performance levels across the board for homeschoolers are equal to those who went to public school. This should be no surprise. I know homeschooling parents who are very capable and others who are complete morons.

Trevor Jackson said...

TosaGuy, the flip of this is something my dad told me once. He switched majors after a couple years from education to business. But, he said, the most useful class he took in learning how to manage employees was a class on child psychology.

Lawgiver said...

Freeman said,

So why the special cert for K-12? .

Because it's a scam. While in the Air Force I finished my BA and then taught in an Air Force technical training school where I earned master instructor certification. The military actually teaches you the mechanics of how to teach, imagine that. Upon retirement from the Air Force I took 40 plus hours of education courses to get my K - 8 certification. The only thing that was worthwhile was the student teaching where I spent six weeks in the classroom with veteran teachers. The rest of it was crap. Almost all of my teacher co-workers agreed with that sentiment.

Joan said,

The most important thing, though, is conveying a sense of respect to the children and expecting the same from them.

I can't disagree with you more. Maybe in high school that's the way it is but I would have to go with discipline as my overall number one.

After teaching for 5 years I got a gig with Pearson Education teaching teachers how to use specialized educational software. Pearson sold 27 million dollars worth of services and software to the Los Angeles Unified School District a few years ago. I wonder how much, if any, of that stuff is still being used today. Politics, kick backs, nepotism, waste, it's all there in our public schools.

I worked with schools all over the nation and my advice to anyone wanting to teach is to research the district you want to teach in. Most inner city schools are more like holding pens, I would avoid those like the plague.

And God bless all you special ed teachers because you have one of the toughest jobs I've ever seen.

Joe said...

My uncle has a PhD from Caltech. He worked at Hughs Aircraft for years and taught some classes at Caltech. When he retired he tried to get a job teaching physics at the local high school. They wouldn't let him.

I have been a computer programmer for 29 years and have worked professionally at it for 21 years, yet I couldn't get a job teaching computer programming to High School students.

My wife substitute teaches elementary school. She is very good, but she doesn't have the certificates and the "education" required for her to be a full-time teacher. (The teachers she works with complain about the certification nonsense as well as all the federal and state mandates tying their hands over just about everything. Just based on the latter, I'm surprised so many stick with it.)

Final anecdote: a college friend majored in history and took the time to get all the teaching certificates with the goal of teaching history in 7th and 8th grade (serious, he actually liked that) yet he was passed over for the best jobs by grads with [general] Education Degrees.

sonicfrog said...

I've got my Calif social science credential, and......

Crap, I'm sub'ing now, had a free period,but the bell just rang. I have stories but will have to do this later.

Freeman Hunt said...

Joe,

I beg to differ.

Joan said...

There's a lot of not-disagreeing going on here:

I said: "The most important thing, though, is conveying a sense of respect to the children and expecting the same from them."

Lawgiver replied: I can't disagree with you more. Maybe in high school that's the way it is but I would have to go with discipline as my overall number one.
You misread me -- what do you think "expecting the same from them" - respect - means?

Discipline is a cooperative effort. The reality is, the kids must learn to control themselves, we have to set up a framework that enables them to see it's to their benefit to behave themselves. I tell my kids (my own, and my students): "I cannot control what you do, only you can do that. But I can make your life much more difficult if you don't do what you need to do."

Do not think that teaching adults is at all like teaching children. Children's brains aren't wired the same way adult brains are, and adolescent brains are going through as much upheaval as toddler brains, which explains a lot of adolescent behavior. Please don't think that my saying this means I think any kid should be excused from learning and behaving properly in school -- I don't. It just means that certain techniques that work with adults will not be effective with kids.

There's a lot of dissing of teacher certification programs and given the quality of a lot of teachers, I understand that. Passing a teacher's ed program doesn't guarantee you'll be a good teacher -- but being smart or experienced (which characterizes the examples given here of people who wanted to teach but couldn't) doesn't guarantee you'll be a good teacher, either. It was well known back in my college days that the most brilliant researchers were damned lousy lecturers, I had one physics prof who was totally incomprehensible -- we learned everything in section from the grad student TA.

Skyler's right: It's the emphasis on getting students to learn that matters. If you define the skills to be learned, it's amazing how well students learn.
The classes I'm taking now in my teacher cert program use this technique AND teach this technique -- "connecting your learning", "pre-mapping", whatever you want to call it -- it's essential that students know what they're going to learn, so they can assess for themselves whether or not they've mastered the material. Stating the objectives for each lesson up front ("This is what you need to learn, and why") has been demonstrated to work -- every teacher should use this technique.

howzerdo said...

Joe: Do you have the authors of those studies? I'd be interested in taking a look. The research I've seen (Mayberry et al, Bay & Varres) suggests that in terms of academic achievement, homeschooled students average about 2 years ahead of public school students and 9 months ahead of private school students.

Joan: thank you :-). I really appreciate your remarks. I rarely comment on education-related posts here, even though it is my field. Sometimes I'm itching to jump in, though...you said what I might have, but from the much better perspective of a pre-service teacher.

I was an administrator (in higher ed), and now I teach for a school of education in the undergraduate education minor. K-12 teachers are mostly certified at the graduate level in NYS and they must have a bachelor's degree in a discipline such as history, math, biology, Spanish, English, etc.

I know my departments is currently working with a graduate student who is seeking to become a K-12 administrator. He came in with education and experience from the military, which is not the usual profile of an admit. I won't say it didn't take jumping though some hoops (on his part and maybe even more on our part), but I think many states do have alternative pathways for teachers and administrators.

Lawgiver said...

Joan said,

You misread me -- what do you think "expecting the same from them" - respect - means?

Expecting the same and receiving it are two different things. I always had that little respect talk with my kids at the beginning of the school year and I walked the walk also. How much do you think K-8th graders really care about respect from/to a teacher? And please spare me the developmental psychology lecture, been there, done that.

You are pretty idealistic and we need more teachers like that but I would enjoy hearing you comments about teaching after you have a couple of years as a full time teacher under your belt.

There's a lot of dissing of teacher certification programs.

And it's rightly deserved. If our teacher cert programs are doing such a great job why are our public schools in the shape they're in? Why aren't our kids ranked near the top when compared to students in other developed nations?

Joan said...

Lawgiver, I've been in classrooms for the past 3 years, several times a week. I fully understand that's not the same thing as having my own class, but I have the benefit of seeing how dozens of different teachers manage (or don't manage) their own classrooms. Idealistic, I'm not.

How much do you think K-8th graders really care about respect from/to a teacher? And please spare me the developmental psychology lecture, been there, done that.
The fact that you're dismissing developmental psychology so quickly says a lot to me. How much do the kids care? If the kids know you don't care, they won't care either. Respect comes with high expectations. A "little talk" at the beginning of the year isn't what I meant at all -- and a "little talk" is so inconsistent with "walking the walk" I don't even know where to begin.

Respect is something you build into your classroom culture, from the way you present the lessons to the responsibilities you give the kids to the procedures you implement for all the daily tasks. If you do it right, the class works for you. I have experienced this myself in some longer term positions, and I've seen the consequences when it's missing.

I will not defend all teacher cert programs -- God knows there's no reason to. I will defend the one I'm in, now, which focuses on the practical aspects. There's a lot of garbage out there, sure (hello, U of Chicago & Bill Ayers) but you already know it's a fallacy to blame the teachers.

The #1 determinant of success in school is parental involvement. You want to blame someone for how lousy our kids are doing in school? Blame the parents for bringing the kids in late or not at all, sending the kids in with no breakfast or lunch, not making them do their homework, ignoring teachers' notes and calls, protesting and threatening when teachers assign bad grades. Dealing with parents is the worst part of a teacher's job, something I've experienced even as a sub.

Skyler said...

I agree. Blame the parents. Parents no longer have to pay for educating their progeny, and think that education is a government job.

How anyone thought that the government can be a good steward of education, I can't imagine. And the further we kick this up to more centralized parts of government the worse it gets.

Someday somebody will read the tenth amendment and wonder what the heck we're doing with the feds being at all involved in schools.

sonicfrog said...

How anyone thought that the government can be a good steward of education, I can't imagine. Some guy named Thomas Jefferson was a proponent, though even he would probably be agast at the monster burocracy it's developed into.

sonicfrog said...

Oops, that's "Bureaucracy". Good thing I'm not teaching Enrish today :-)

Lawgiver said...

Joan,

Thank you so much for the lecture on respect. You sound like one of those touchy, feely teachers who is out to save the world. Good luck with that.

The fact that you're dismissing developmental psychology so quickly says a lot to me.

I didn't dismiss developmental psychology, I just asked you not to lecture on it. I've taken the classes, read the books, applied the principles and seen the results. But one size does not fit all, that's why psychology is called a soft science.

but you already know it's a fallacy to blame the teachers.

Where you got that from I have no Idea. I never dissed the teachers. In the hundreds of schools I worked with and the 1000s of teachers I have observed, I would say about 95% of them are doing the best job they can with the tools and limitations they have.


The #1 determinant of success in school is parental involvement.


The most important thing, though, is conveying a sense of respect to the children and expecting the same from them.So is parental involvement more important than conveying a sense of respect for a successful teacher?

Lawgiver said...

How anyone thought that the government can be a good steward of education, I can't imagine. And the further we kick this up to more centralized parts of government the worse it gets.

Absolutely. The dept of education has long since outlived its usefulness, too bad we can't get rid of it and send all the education issues back to the state and local governments.

Pogo said...

My best teacher in high school was our football coach. He was a smart guy, knew his subject.

But he was a big man too. In 1943, he got signed by the New York Giants, but had to go to war. He became a teacher after the war, but in 1951, his coaching career was interrupted again, by the Korean war.

He knew how to handle boys. he would stand in the hall and look sternly as we passed by. He said your name every once in awhile. If you looked like you were about to do something stupid, he'd put his hand on your shoulder; this huge ham hand.

His only occasional violence was slapstick, with a message. You'd walk by him and he'd slap you on the back and say Pogo! Good to see you! Knocked you flat, usually, even the biggest guys.
Message: Don't even try it.Yes, sir!

He taught one hell of a college level course. Loved that guy.

Joan said...

Lawgiver, if one three-sentence paragraph equals a lecture, I can see why you quit teaching. And who said anything about one-size-fit-all?

Touchy-feely, me? Not at all, you've misread me completely. Sure, my general rules all sound "nice" but they work, especially for young kids. The reality is, actions have consequences in my classroom. One of my favorite tactics for dealing with kids who are disruptive is to send them, and their work, to another teacher: 7th grade for little kids (they're intimidated by the big kids) and kindergarten or first grade for the middle-schoolers (they're embarrassed). It's a privilege to be in my classroom and I don't allow it to be abused.

As to that: managing the classroom (establishing a respectful atmosphere) is the most important thing for the teacher. Parental involvement is the #1 determinant of success for the individual student. There's no conflict there.

Joe said...

No offense Freeman, but using studies from a homeschooling advocacy group is the height of bullshit. What the hell else do you think their "studies" would find?

Lawgiver said...

Lawgiver, if one three-sentence paragraph equals a lecture, I can see why you quit teaching.

LOL, no, it was the lack of a decent salary and the bureaucracy that finally got me to move on. I got offered a lot more money to teach teachers and sell them stuff than I got from teaching kids. Believe it or not, I enjoyed teaching the kiddos and was good at it. It's all the other stuff that got in the way. Good luck in your classroom:)

Freeman Hunt said...

No offense Freeman, but using studies from a homeschooling advocacy group is the height of bullshit. What the hell else do you think their "studies" would find?Now go to the link again and actually read it. It's a list of studies by various organizations. I started linking individual studies, but then found that link that has a representative sample in a list all on the same page. I would have thought you'd find it more convenient.

Someone else, not a homeschooler, has also addressed your comment here. Care to respond?

John Lynch said...

Oh God, no.

I only vaguely remember any of my teachers before high school. Of educators in my life, it was college professors that had the most impact. That's because they were the first people I met that knew more for a reason other than just being older than me.

Public school teachers, it seems to me, are the most entitled of all middle class professions. They think they are far more valuable, far more highly trained, doing a far more difficult job than they actually are. I say this as the son of a teacher, a grandson of a teacher, and a son and a grandson of college professors.

I've even done some sub teaching myself, enough to become convinced that no one is more convinced of their own superiority as someone who spends their days in a room full of children. I've taught my own son letters, numbers, and counting and he's only three. It wasn't even that hard. Children want to learn. It's just a matter of taking the time to do it. As a society, most of us have decided to work and farm out our responsibilities to others.

It's a blue collar job with white collar pretensions.

blake said...

More people would want to teach if teaching didn't require spending time in the education department.They'd teach better, too.

Jennifer said...

Perfect example of government incompetence at management. Who does that? What breed of idiot says, "We have to lay people off. Let's not keep our best people, let's just arbitrarily fire everyone who's been around less than six years. Easy!"Unfortunately, this breed of idiot is all too common. I'm currently dealing with this mentality in trying to hire outside for a position at our facility. I'm pissing off people left and right who truly seem to believe that the length of time their ass has been in a company chair should be the sole qualifying factor. Thank God we don't have a union here.

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