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Author Topic: Teaching grade school  (Read 38017 times)
loner
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« on: March 06, 2012, 7:01:43 PM »

I have been teaching at two year and four year colleges and on and off over the years, I've thought about pursuing private grade school work (I'm not so suicidal as to consider working at a public secondary school)

It seems like the path of least resistance - easier to get full time employment, easier to get international employment, and less administrative headaches.

But then I consider the downsides: getting worked like a donkey with an unbearable course load; a completely different and alien work culture; and most intimidating of them all, minor children for students.

Truth be told, I am incredibly intimidated by the prospect of teaching children. My students have always been at least 18 years old (obviously) and the thought of having legal responsibility for other people's children is none to appealing.

Then there's the culture. At least the people who work in colleges are usually laid back, anti-authoritarian, liberal minded types (like me). The thought of being surrounded by rigid (and if you will excuse the expression, tight-assed), disciplinarian types who are bullying around children makes me very nervous. I really just want to teach without all of the excess baggage.

Also, I assume this is a one-way passage: once I go in, I'm never coming back!

I'm a natural worrier so perhaps this is all an exaggeration - but I really don't know. Has anyone here had any experiences with lower ed?

 
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oldadjunct
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 7:16:20 PM »

Are you qualified, with teacher training, certification, k-8 classroom experience?  If you have a Ph.D., that is likely an obstacle, not a advantage to grade school teaching.  Presumably you have already researched pay scales for private elementary teaching, FT you are likely in the high teens, low 20's.

Good luck to you.
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adjunctprincipessa
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2012, 10:42:23 PM »

There are some highly regarded private schools that will be interested in hiring a PhD to teach secondary students if you can convince them that you are passionate about teaching and that this wasn't an easier way for you to secure a steady paycheck.

But from the tone of your post, I suspect you might have some difficulty convincing an elementary school to hire you.  Elementary schools are really looking for people who love children and are dedicated to helping them grow and develop.  Unless you have many years volunteer experience with children, I don't know how seriously they will take your candidacy. 

There is also an enormous oversupply of elementary education teachers in most parts of this country, and I recommend that all future teachers consider dual certification in special education, bilingual education, math or science to help improve their employment prospects.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2012, 3:35:44 PM »

I too read 'grade school' as = to 'elementary school', but maybe the OP just views it as generic k-12.  In any case, hu does not seem as though:

1) he has a clue what teachers really do or experience, whether the school be public or private
2) realizes that 'bullying children' does not = properly disciplining them.
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chalee
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 7:39:39 PM »

I am re-training as a speech therapist and am doing a placement in an elementary school right now. Although I don't know that I want to end up in education, there's a lot I like about it. But from your post, I'm not clear on why YOU'RE considering this career move. What are the positive attractions for you--maybe I misunderstood you, but it sounds as though you think it would a "path of least resistance," easier somehow than academia? Here are just a few questions: why do you want to work with kids? Are you prepared to work with kids with varying abilities intellectually? Do you have a lot of energy? Can you balance the concerns and criticisms of multiple stakeholders like parents, administrators, etc? Do you realize that the hours are much longer than most people realize, e.g., you may be expected to work summer school, take home work every night, participate in after school activities, etc.?
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 9:15:20 PM »

Quote
, and less administrative headaches.
Less in k-12? Probably not. Though it may depend on what you mean exactly by that.

I have worked in k-4 (subbing for a year) and I could tell you all about my experiences, and what I observed of the FT teachers. I won't much because it's hard to generalize from one year in one school district. In a nutshell, however, I'll say it's horribly demanding work and you have to have drive, patience, and just a certain knack for working with a group of kids and holding their respect. Unlike college level instruction, it's much more disastrous if you're faking it and attempting to learn as you go.

I would highly recommend that you get some firsthand experience in the classroom, at the grade level(s) you are interested in. You might do this in an unpaid manner (volunteer, observe) or paid (substitute teaching, PT work as a teaching assistant). Either way, you want to observe what's going on a regular daily basis, not just drop in once or twice. You need to see it from the inside and be able to gauge your actual abilities against the challenge.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 9:15:58 PM by melba_frilkins » Logged

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peppergal
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2012, 11:56:24 PM »

I lived for years with a 3rd grade teacher.  We shared a house to save on rent money.  She suffered more than one nervous breakdown (literally, involving hospitalization) due to stress.  Her job was more, not less, stressful than mine as non-TT faculty.  She was teaching in one of the poorest districts (urban, mostly minority) in the country.

I second Melba's advice to get some first-hand experience, because what you say does not at all match with what I have seen.
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txgalprof
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 1:30:19 AM »

(I'm not so suicidal as to consider working at a public secondary school)

As the daughter of a public school teacher, and one who counts public school teachers as some of her closest friends, I find this offensive.
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2012, 8:23:43 AM »

(I'm not so suicidal as to consider working at a public secondary school)

As the daughter of a public school teacher, and one who counts public school teachers as some of her closest friends, I find this offensive.

As a former public school attendee who had several disengaged and bored teachers, I find the whole OP offensive, honestly. Don't teach if you don't love it. It's not good for the kids.
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farm_boy
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2012, 3:34:04 PM »

I don't think being ignorant is necessarily being offensive.  The OP just doesn't realize how hard it is to teach in a public school.  I quit after 5 years and took a $20,000 pay cut to return to teaching at the college level.  I got tired of the chest pain; staying there would have been suicidal.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 3:39:26 PM »

There is certainly no question that the average academic who has no k-12 teaching experience, esp. no k-12 public school teaching experience, has no idea just how different such work is, and how much more stressful it can be in the classroom.  People here often (justly) complain about snowflakes and helicopter parents, for instance, but the kinds of student and parental behavior they would regularly have to deal with in a k-12 situation would astound, terrify, and dishearten most academics.  And this is not taking into consideration the added pressures associated with work in a poor inner-city or rural district.
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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 4:26:17 PM »

Don't teach if you don't love it. It's not good for the kids.
This. A GAZILLION TIMES THIS. If you don't love the Big 5 (as I call them) of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history (and I mean REALLY love them), there is no way you should be an elementary teacher. You've already indicated that you're not a suitable high-school or middle-school teacher. There are plenty of good (even great) elementary teachers who don't have jobs. In fact, it's probably the most oversupplied field in education (yes, I would suspect even moreso than humanities PhDs). If you don't love teaching or don't love the subjects you'll be teaching, don't teach. It'll be better for the kids and the world at large.
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prytania3
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 4:51:28 PM »

(I'm not so suicidal as to consider working at a public secondary school)

As the daughter of a public school teacher, and one who counts public school teachers as some of her closest friends, I find this offensive.

That's ridiculous. I taught high school and middle school back in the day, and I'd chew on glass before I did it again. Just because you have a parent and friends in the system doesn't mean the system isn't horrible.
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 5:04:24 PM »

(I'm not so suicidal as to consider working at a public secondary school)

As the daughter of a public school teacher, and one who counts public school teachers as some of her closest friends, I find this offensive.

That's ridiculous. I taught high school and middle school back in the day, and I'd chew on glass before I did it again. Just because you have a parent and friends in the system doesn't mean the system isn't horrible.

Just because the system may have problems doesn't mean people who show no interest in teaching kids should do so.
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offthemarket
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2012, 5:04:37 PM »

Original poster, please don't teach in a K-12 environment.
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