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Thursday, August 18, 2016



I faded away from the classroom because a.) we started moving so much and b.) how in the WORLD would I have kept up with the pace required to do a good job—as good a job as I did the first six years of teaching—after my own children arrived on the scene? There was/is simply no way. I was good at teaching, but it required every waking minute most of the time. And I did do work through the summer—I served on grading committees, curriculum development committees, and teaching myself how to be the very best speech/debate coach I could be (on my own time, for free, because the coaching pay only covered the school year part).

I can't imagine a system that formally discounts teacher education as a pathway to the classroom.

Beth S

You are absolutely right with all of this. I think we probably don't prepare teachers for the 'other side' of teaching (parents, tough kids, politics in the school etc). I will say, however, that I believe teaching is inate - I believe you are born to teach, or not. This doesn't mean that those who have the talent don't need guidance and preparation but I'm not sure you can make a good teacher out of just anyone. Sort of like an athlete - you tend to have the ability or not. As always, I love your writing, your willingness to be open and honest and your general perspective on most things. P.S. - I just left my daughter at college - a freshman - planning to become a middle school English teacher (she's a grammar fanatic). Say a prayer for her


Joining into the discussion two months late:

I also taught school for two years - 7th grade mathematics, in my case. I became another one of those "quit in less than five years" statistics.

The lousy pay was only one of the reasons I quit, but it's also the one thing that, if they fixed, might entice me back into teaching.

At one point, having worked as an engineer for 20 years before becoming a teacher, and acting a little too autonomously in my teacher role, I got in trouble and was hauled before the district superintendent. One of the things he thundered at me was, "You're a professional; it's time you started acting like one."

Being a second-year teacher, I was too intimidated to talk back, even with my union representative sitting in the room with me. I *should* have retorted, "I'll start ACTING like a professional when you start PAYING me like one."

The archives of Zyzmog Galactic Headquarters are full of blog posts about teaching, and especially about teacher pay.

I don't know what the true measure is of a teacher "success" or "failure", but I know it has nothing to do with test scores. Last May, my second year of 7th graders graduated from colleges and universities across the country. The fact that they thought it a significant enough event that they wanted to share the news with me and receive my praise (and gift cards)? I count that as a measure of success.

The fact that at least six of them have become teachers and credit my example for their decision? Um. I know how hard teaching is, and how paltry the rewards are. I'm not sure whether I should count this as a measure of success or of failure.

p.s. I've managed to maintain friendships with a significant portion of the nearly 200 kids I taught. I consider those friendships to be payback enough to offset the near-minimum-wage salary I received.

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