Questions that need some answering

Summer classes don’t start for a few more weeks, so I’ve had some extra idle time to think and come up with questions about what teaching will be like. I wonder if some of us who are going into this are like innocent, starry-eyed children, believing in ideals and goodness and changing the world through education. (I recently wrote an essay for a scholarship competition that had that perspective, I admit.) For myself, I’ll tell you I think I’ve always been that way—idealistic about humanity and life’s possibilities—but I’ve balanced it often with heavy doses of cynicism and pessimism about the ubiquitous dismal state of things that seems to pervade societal politics and operations. I digress.

I bring it up because I think that those of us who are excited about having a positive impact in our communities and on our nation’s youth are somewhere in our minds expecting to be rudely awakened by the less-than-ideal reality that faces all teachers. Teacher burnout was a topic brought up in the few interviews I’ve had so far for mentorship positions (which I don’t think I got, sadly). So maybe we, or I at least, need a bit of knowledge about what to expect when we actually start teaching. Maybe this will help soften the blow when we step into the classroom for the first day on our own and the stars fall out of our eyes.

When I get any answers to these questions, I’ll post them. Also, I’m always coming up with questions, so this list will grow with time and extended periods of idleness.

  • How much can I really expect to make teaching in Georgia with a Master’s? (It’s also all about the money.)
  • Is it worth it financially to get special ed, gifted, and/or ESOL endorsements?
  • What will my hours be on a typical day? Is it realistic to expect to leave soon after the end of the school day?
  • How secure will my position be when and if I attain one?
  • Is it ridiculous to think I could make it long term in the Atlanta Public Schools system?
  • Will I be able to coordinate and work with other teachers on such things as coteaching or coplanning?
  • How secure is the mandatory teacher’s retirement plan and pension? Really.
  • Is it at all reasonable to think that I could get a job teaching high school one day without returning to school for another degree?
  • Is this work going to be able to support me and my daughter like I’m hoping?
  • What possibilities are there for me to earn additional income (as a teacher, not a waiter) during summers?
  • Am I delusional in hoping I’ll be able to save, support, and do a little traveling every year (hello, Paris) on this salary?
  • How good and how expensive are the benefits? Dental? Acupuncture?
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Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 11:35 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good questions. I believe teachers receive tenure after two or three years. I hear many opinions about this being the root of the problem if you consider the pool of teachers to be less than desirable. If you are looking for more questions to answer, I have one. What happens to your retirement or pension if you switch school districts? I find your blog very interesting. thanks for sharing

  2. These are really good questions. And I think you are really smart to think ahead about whether or not you’ll be facing burnout. I think a lot of these same things when I consider whether or not I want to try and get into education. Then add to it the fact that everyone I know who works in the public school system says that you HAVE to know someone to get a job. But at the end of the day, it’s a solid career path, and I think you’re going to be good at it, if only because you are thinking this way already. You know? And I’m sure any time you want to e-mail my sister with questions, she’d be more than happy to answer all of your questions. And she seems to be really happy in her job. I’m so proud of you!

  3. Chase, I think I agree with the notion that unions are doing more harm than good. I like to think that we’ll be the kind of teachers who will be rehired every year because of our successful and effective performance in the classroom. If not, then we’re probably going down the wrong path. It just seems to me that if it’s obvious that there are huge deficits in many schools throughout the country, then some thing that we are doing as a community is not working, like keeping on ineffective teachers. I hear that New York is one of the worst because the unions are so solid and the teachers are often so poor. I don’t know why it’s so impossible to stop doing what doesn’t work. But the pattern seems to be pervasive.

    That is a good question about the pension switch. I would hope that it would transfer, but I will add it to my list for sure. Thanks for the input!

    And thanks for the support, Adriane! I think I’ll definitely talk to your sister as I get closer to graduating and preparing to apply for jobs.

  4. I never thought of it that way, well put!


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