Any Teachers Out There?

Updated on March 25, 2010
S.S. asks from Los Angeles, CA
10 answers

I'm thinking of becoming an elementary school teacher because I want a job that will allow me to be home earlier for my baby. I'm worried that I might not be a good fit with this job though. Are there any elementary teachers out there who could give me some insight as to what type of personality you should have, what your typical day is like, etc? Also, how much can you make as a kindergarden or elementary school teacher (I'm in CA)? What type of certification do you need (I have a bachelors in English and an MBA but neither of these are relevant!). Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who gave such detailed answers. It was a TREMENDOUS help and I'm really appreciative of all the insights/advice/etc. I do indeed love kids and want to work with them but perhaps I was thinking erroneously in focusing on the schedule portion of a teaching job. Looks like its hard work with lots of time beyond 3pm required. I kind of already knew that but seeing it in black and white, detailed for me, has helped immensely. Thanks again moms :)

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answers from Dallas on

I absolutely LOVED my time as a middle school teacher. I would love to be back in the classroom someday. It is a job that has more time off than most, Summer break, winter break, etc. So keep that in mind when you are looking at salary. These breaks may afford you more family time. Many teachers choose to work summer school and do training in the summer. But like other posters have mentioned, the days are much longer than one would think. I usually worked from 7:30 - 5:30 as a teacher. Not to mention the late nights that pop up - parent / teacher conferences, plays, choir events, open houses, chaperoning various events. A teacher needs to be patient and be able to go with the flow. You may have the greatest most time consuming lesson planned and it goes straight out the window when Johnny pulls the fire alarm or an assembly is called. And although you usually work independently in the classroom, you also need to be able and willing to work as a group.

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answers from San Antonio on

I taught for 5 years before becoming a mom and now I stay at home with him and LOVE it. I've thought about going back to work, but it truly is a lot of work. YES you get summers/spring break/christmas break, but all the time in-between is work. You leave for work 6:00/6:30ish to avoid traffic and to get to school early to make copies, be "on duty" watching the kids in the cafeteria, or to have a parent-teacher conference. Then you work all day, only 20 minutes or so for lunch after you walk the kids to the cafeteria and then heat up your food. Then your conference time you're busy making copies (if the copier is working for you that day), or you're checking emails, or having a parent-teacher conference. In the afternoon, you can't just rush out to go pick up your daughter. Sometimes you'll either work the parent-pickup area or monitor kids getting on the buses. Then there's often a weekly (bi-weekly if you're lucky) faculty meeting that starts a few minutes after buses leave. Sometimes those last an hour or an hour and a half. THEN you get to grade papers or pack up and go home.

Like Tori said, not trying to be negative, but when I think about going back to work I think about how much time away from my son it'd be. By the time you got home, made dinner, gave the baby a bath, you'd get to spend maybe 1 hour, 2 hours with your baby. If you're like me, used to being home with him/her all day, I think this would be depressing! Then again, yes you get all summer long and weekends. An extra $50K or so a year in your pocket might be necessary for you. You could probably volunteer in a school. Ask if you can pair up with a teacher and help her/shadow her. Then you can see her typical day and hear her opinions on it all. I think you'd probably only need a background check. And having your degree is very helpful. Not sure how you get certified. Probably a few tests and/or maybe a few college courses. If you have to take courses, you'll probably have to 'work' or 'shadow' a teacher in the public schools anyways. Another thought: most subsitute teachers can be subs with just 60 hours of college credit. Maybe it's 90? Probably different in CA than in TX, but maybe you could try subbing for a week. You wouldn't have to do the after-school meetings, but would give you a taste of the school day/work load.

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answers from Sacramento on

I was a teacher in CA for 10 years (elementary) and now stay home with my kids. Although the schedule looks is much more of a commitment then 8-3. There are many after school meetings, grading, prep work, ect. None of this can be done when the kids are there. I was rarely home before 5:00 or 5:30 (no commute for me...lived 2 miles from my job). (sadly though, a teachers pay is based on 8 to 3 or 4..depending on the district) I often brought work home to do in the evenings and usually went to work in the classroom at least twice a month on the weekend.

There are many different personalities that make great teachers...most of all you must love kids and see potential in all of them regardless of their backgrounds. You need to be organized and be willing to go the extra mile for your class or a certain student.

Since you already have a BA all you need is a teaching credential. Those programs vary, but are generally from 18 months to 2 years. Some programs allow you to work while you earn your credential. Since you do have your BA, you can apply for a emergency credential and substitute. I would highly recommend this before you get into a credential program. I have known some teachers who went through the credential program who had never worked in a classroom. Then got a classroom and decided it wasn't for them. You will need to take the CBEST, which is offered a couple of times a year. You can find a ton of info on the CBEST and CA credentialing on the internet.

I will let you know that right now is not the best time for teachers in CA to be looking for jobs. There have been over 20,000 laid off in CA recently (due to budget cuts and class sizes increasing). I have told my husband it is a good thing I am not looking for a job right now because I would not find one. There are a lot of experienced teachers who are looking for jobs.

Pay really depends on where you are...different parts of the state pay differently...probably a bit higher in the LA area. Starting pay in my area is about $36,000 to $40,000 right now I think.

I would try out substituting and see if you think you might enjoy it. Teaching and subbing are different, but you will at least get a feel for what it is like to be in a classroom. Subbing is great because once you leave you have no responsibilities and can go home and be with your family.

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answers from Orlando on

I certainly hope you have more reasons for wanting to become a teacher than wanting to be "home earlier"!!! That's a huge insult to the teaching profession to think teaching means coming home early and summers off. Teachers change the lives of children. There is no set of personality traits that makes a good teacher, but dedication is certainly one. You may leave the building "early" in the day, but there is a lot of prep work involved outside of the normal teaching hours, plus meetings and trainings and continued education to keep your certificate. If you decide to become a teacher, I hope you do it for the right reasons -- otherwise it would be unfair to your students.

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answers from Chicago on

Why do you call your BA in English irrelevant? If you were open to doing middle school or secondary ed, you could just pick up a Secondary Ed minor and earn certification for grades 6-12. Here in IL starting teachers can expect to earn anywhere from $33k-$42k. Teachers unions have pay scales based on your teaching experience and education level.

For specifics on teacher certification in your state, you will need to check with the CA State Board of Education.



answers from Houston on

If you're looking for a job with true school day hours and not a lot of "take home work" you might want to look into becoming a substitute teacher. The pay is not great, but you can stick to the true school hours and can have more flexibility with which days you work. You can check the requirements of your area but it may be that you can sub without any additional education at all. It would give you some experience in the schools with different ages and then if you love it you can pursue your teaching certificate and have a better idea of what ages you might be most interested in teaching.

Good luck,



answers from Los Angeles on

I believe it is something that you should WANT to do. It requires a lot of your own time and creativity. I think the worst part about this profession is the teachers that don't want to be there. they produce uneducated and unexcited students!If you are in LA county good luck finding a jog. They are letting veterans go that are fantastic teachers :( The surrounding counties are just a difficult to get in because the teacher that have lost their jobs are resourcing to surrounding areas.
We all are having a hard time finding jobs even with the extended experience.



answers from Los Angeles on

I am not a teacher but I do work for the Department of Education. You need to have a teaching credential which includes student teaching time(you will have to attend classes and do the student teaching). If you have heard anything about the budget problems, now is not the time to become a teacher, as so many are being laid off at this time and more will continue to be laid off with the way our state is in debt. Maybe in a few years, it would be a good profession, but I would not suggest it at this time. The average teacher salary in Orange County and LA is very different. You can look the salaries up online, starting teachers make more if they have more credentials, such as your MBA. Go to a counselor at the school you would like to attend and have a meeting regarding your goal and see what they have to say.



answers from Los Angeles on

I was an elementary school teacher for 12 years. I taught 1st grade as well as 3rd. I stopped teaching to have my kids and get to stay home with them, but I am hoping to go back to it someday. If you are a "good" teacher, your hours are not just until 3:30 when the bell rings and the children go home. I would stay a lot later to clean up the classroom, prep materials for the next day, grade papers, do lesson planning, bullitin boards etc. There is sooooo much more involved. Often times, I would do work from home even on the weekends too. I think you need to be very dedicated and patient and have A LOT of energy to teach elementary school. I stopped because I did not want to do it half way and then come home to my own kids and do that half way too. It is a great job, though, and the vacation time is super and it is so rewarding and never a dull moment! Best of luck to you!



answers from Kansas City on

As far as certifications, it changes in every state. Also depending upon the school you choose to work in, you may not need to have an education certificate either. There are rules and percentages that need to be followed, but not everyone needs a certificate right away. Your previous degrees can and will be very helpful, even at the elementary level. To find out the pay scale, simply look up your local school district, you will probably be able to find it pretty easily, but you're probably looking at less than $40,000.

Teaching is far from a walk in the park. It is really hard, really tiring, and you are grossly underpaid for both the time you put in and the energy you expend. There are all different types of personalities that work well for teaching, but the underlying factor is that you have to love what you're doing, because you're surely not getting paid for it. The most important personality factors I think are that you'll have to be able to calmy deal with parents who think you are a mean, dumb, idiot who doesn't know how to be a teacher. Not all parents are like that and in fact most aren't, but the ones that are have perfected their skills! ;) Can you take criticism well? Can you follow rules that you think are dumb? Are you a timely person?--You will need to be an excellent manager of time to get in all your required curriculum, and then some, and also for paperwork like lesson plans and report cards that will be due for your administration.

A typical day in the day of a teacher is mostly spent on minutia. You will deal with more issues over stolen and lost pencils, restroom breaks, and hurt feelings than you know what to do with. You will wonder how and why any learning is expected to get done, and you will go home exhausted...with papers to grade and lessons to plan. You will be required to stay late many nights for required duties, clubs, meetings, conferences, etc. The nights you are not required to stay late you will stay late because you have work to do and if you can't stay late, you'll take work home or come in early.

I'm truly not trying to be negative. I love teaching and I love kids, as I'm sure you do too or you wouldn't be thinking about this, but please don't consider this job lightly. It is not easy and the time you think you will gain by being able to come home and spend time with your family, could quite possibly be lost to the job. Additionally, do you have it in you to work with children all day and then come home to your own where you still have to be patient, kind and loving and still educate them? Some do not. Education has the potential to be one of the best and most rewarding jobs of your life, but it can also make you miserable. You have to really decide if you're looking for this kind of commitment or if you're just looking for a better schedule because you absolutely should not do it if it is only for the schedule. It isn't fair to you or to the kids you will be teaching.

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