Are/were You a Teacher?

Updated on September 19, 2014
N.E. asks from Kaneohe, HI
24 answers

I am thinking about going back to school to become an Elementary School Teacher. If you are/were a teacher, were you satisfied with your career choice? Anything you'd change? I'd like to be a 2nd grade teacher. I know schooling is anywhere from 4-6+ years, and I'd be doing it all online ( i have two youngins of my own). I'm a little nervous, but is it worth it?

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Yes, I am located in Hawai'i. We are doing furloughs, but no lay offs..yet. I figure at the end of my schooling, about 5-6 years, things will hopefully have changed. My husband has a good enough job to cover our family, so if i don't get a job as a teacher right away, we do have the time. I am actually enrolling in the Univ of Phoenix online. My classes start in January '10 and I am soo excited to be going back to school. I'd like to be a TA while going to school also. Thanks for all the responses =)

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

I got my credential two years ago and found that I wasted a lot of time and money. Schools are laying off right now, not hiring. If you are passionate about teaching, I agree with what someone else said about persuing Early Childhood Education (preschool or in-home daycare). Maybe in a few years things will pick up, but the path to the teaching career at this time will lead to nothing but disappointment right now :( Sorry to be such a downer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I'm sorry I can't answer, but I wanted to chime in and keep an eye on this question. I'm actually in exactly the same situation. I'm thinking about starting to go back to school, online for Elementary Ed, and I have 2 young kids at home! I'll be tuning in to see what kind of responses you get! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Good morning Nahes and N G,

I am a high school teacher and I love it. I know that you said that you wanted to become an elementary school teacher, but I can share with you about what I've heard from other teachers and my own experience.

Teaching takes a lot of time. You need to plan your lessons, grade work, and deal with other situations that they don't tell you about in school (discipline, students not doing homework, sometimes medical situations, etc.)There is a lot of administrative stuff (faculty meetings, meeting with your team, if you have, to plan, reading lots of memos and meeting deadlines, signing papers, taking attendance, keeping track of what you told students or parents when you call or talk to them, etc.)Many teachers say, though, that,as time goes by, you spend less time; that depends on the teacher and his/her personality. Some are perfectionists, so things tend to take longer that what it would take to those that are not. There are some in the other end of the spectrum that are very content with what they do, so they are somewhat of an auto-pilot mode. So, that pretty much depends on what works for the teacher and the teacher is happy with.

The first few years are the most difficult because you are learning the trade. You are learning what works and what doesn't work, you are learning what works for classroom management, you need to go to observe other teachers, write units, lesson plans, a journal, attend workshops, etc. (this is if you have to do B.T.S.A. -Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program, a program that most have to go through in order to clear their credential. You also are learning what you can say and do, and shouldn't say or do, and what you must do in different situations, etc.

Also, in teaching the younger grades, you get more clinging behavior and a lot of "Teacher, he did this; he said that" - you actually still get that in high school :), but, if you don't mind, then it's not a big deal.

It is true that teaching is a satisfying career, but only when teaching is your call. There are many people out there that are not happy with their job because that is not exactly what they wanted to do or it was not what they expected - the same thing happens in teaching. I have heard some teachers said, "this person shouldn't be teaching anymore", and it's for different reasons - they don't care about their jobs, they hate the kids, they hate their jobs and kids can sense it, they treat their kids poorly, are a bad influence to the kids, etc.

So, you just need to make sure that teaching is your call. Before teachers get their teaching credential they have to do student teaching where they have a master teacher and little by little take over a few classes for a few weeks. I would suggest that you look into doing something like that before you even start. I know that you have two little children, but that might be something you might want to do if you can so that you can see whether that is indeed something that you would like to do - observe, ask questions, get some practice, and see if that is for you. That way you won't lose years of your life studying and finally realizing that it was not for you.

So, to summarize:
1) Teaching is very time-consuming
2) Classroom management is the hardest thing for most teachers and learning what works and doesn't work takes a lot of time (some teachers say it takes from 5 to ten years, but a very small percentage are just naturals at it, you might be one of that small fortunate ones, who knows)
3) Doing a student-teaching-type experience (for a week or so) might be beneficial to see whether teaching is for you or not.(I think knowing whether teaching is your vocation or not is the most important thing of all because, if it is, everything is worthwhile and satisfying,even the hard times)
4) Overall, if teaching is your vocation, you'll love it and love the pluses that normally come with it - long breaks, holidays, health benefits, etc.

Good luck to you both.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I made a mid-life career change about 8 years ago and became an elementary school teacher. I absolutely love it! However, when I had my son two years ago, I decided to take an extended leave of absence to be home with him. Eventually, I'll return to teaching as I do feel a calling.

A few comments...

First, if you are in Southern California the job market is HORRIBLE for elementary school teachers. A few exceptions, special education and secondary school (math and sciences). Besides the economy fueling cutbacks and lean budgets, there is a declining enrollment that can impact the schools for several years...fewer students need fewer teachers and there is currently a glut of elementary teachers. I got my teaching position 8 years ago and was very lucky to get it as jobs were drying up...that was the beginning of the end of the teacher shortage.

If you do get a teaching position, it most likely will not be in the grade you want. As a new teacher, you are on the bottom rung of the ladder. Everyone else above you has first pick and you get whatever is left. Most districts will protect teachers in their initial grade level assignment for 2 years or so...after that, you could literally be changing grade levels every year or so depending upon the changing student population and the desires of those with more seniority. It's unlike any job environment I've been in before. So be open to teaching all the elementary grades, not just one.

Be aware that there are alternative programs to earning a teaching credential. Intern programs will enable you to work in the classroom while earning your credential, provided that you have a bachelor's degree and pass the required tests (CBEST & CSET). Mine took 1-1/2 years to get my preliminary credential and another 1-1/2 years to get my clear credential all while I was teaching in the classroom. It was a lot of hard work but well worth it. There are online intern programs as well.

Finally, as others have said, teaching takes a lot of time outside of the classroom. Yes, you are able to leave campus at 2:40pm most days, but you will work several hours a night and on the weekends planning lessons, grading papers, and preparing for teaching. I often put in 3-4 additional hours a day in my classroom and at home, plus at least half a day on the weekends. Granted, the longer you teach your lessons are more prepared and practiced, requiring less prep time. However, the first years are very intensive. It's entirely doable with a family but you do need to be aware of it and prepared for the workload.

Teaching is a gift that you give and receive. It is hard work and sometimes discouraging, but then there is the moment when you see the light go on and a child's face beams because he/she understands. It's priceless. If you're in So Cal, you most likely will be teaching in an urban environment that presents a lot of issues that don't always come under the umbrella of the three R's...things that will break your heart...but you have to teach the whole child and this stuff comes with the territory. You'll need to be strong, resilient, open-minded, and fearless. I think it's more than a job, it's a calling.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best and great success!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Teaching=STRESS! Whether it's worth it or not is up to you.

(sigh) This is a topic that I have really strong views about and I am about to write a book here. If it bores anyone, just skip it.

So, if I knew then what I know now, would I do it again? N-O, No. I'd choose another field, perhaps law. Don't misunderstand, I love actual teaching, being with children, opening their eyes to the world through print and helping them acquire skills necessary to a satisfying life. Read on and I'll explain.

First, I like what the other responders said to you about Montessori middle and high school. They are almost non-existent. Parents who sent their children to Montessori preschool, primary, elementary and love it, and wish they could continue to high school. If you love to teach, thinking about this kind of venue or starting a preschool are viable opportunities. There are few openings in quality preschools.

The difference between private and public school is, if the parent pays to have their child in school, they expect their child to be successful, make good grades and be prepared. They support the teacher's efforts. In public schools...well let's face it, it is all about teaching to standardized test scores. There is nothing more. I was told this past week by a county school district official, children should be learning from bell-to-bell how to read, write and compute (math) to make test scores in the school's API/APY range. We shouldn't be teaching science, social sciences, or any other subject, just math, writing, and reading. And that's it.

All that day it was a total moment of epiphany for me. I wondered what I was doing working 50-60 hour weeks for a system that I find hard to believe in? Homeschooling always seemed like either a joke or place for eccentrics to me, until lately. I've changed my mind and see it in a much better light. I question a public system that doesn't totally prepare a child for life in the 2000's. Children need science, technology, social studies, music, art, as well as how to read, write and do math. They need to be taught how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. They need to learn how to use technological tools and to use them to find answers & for acquiring knowledge. What is public school giving? Learn to answer a set of test questions because some legislators said that every child had to be proficient by a certain time. So...? What about students with slow learning curves? What about students with learning difficulties or disabilities, students of lower intelligence, students with medical/mental health problems, students of low economic opportunity or family issues, students just learning English (perhaps whose parents don't speak English either), students with no academic aptitude who are great at art, music, mechanics, or sports, etc? What happens when any of these students aren't able to demonstrate mastery of the tests? The teacher, school, and district is blamed.

California was proud to set their standards and bar very high when standardized testing was established. Admirable, but our proficiency level is lots higher than many other state's levels. It means that our students must be a lot more proficient and knowledgeable than children from other states. It's hard to deliver that while acknowledging that every child is different, with different talents and needs. Do we really believe that every child in California is brighter and able to do more than children in other states? How do we justify that, on what scientific basis was that established? Why doesn't the United States give every child the exact same test at the exact same age/grade level if they expect to censure states for not bringing their students to proficiency on the same date? Now they want to evaluate teachers and deliver pay by children's test scores. Let's be real- what does that have to do with anything that is actually important? Test scores that indicate that a child has acquired more knowledge individually and is moving along are valuable, but in comparison to a group; are humans a herd of cattle to be delivered to a certain point all at the same time? I'll leave that for you to ponder, because this is the system that you are contemplating joining.

As for your decision, the previous responders have said it all in detail. Teachers are being laid off, there will be another round in California this spring. Further, new teachers have little hope of getting tenure because of two things. First the lay-offs and second, a lot of districts treat new teachers as an expendable commodity. They fill a temporary need, non-reelect them just before tenure, get someone else when they need again. That keeps their budgets required for salary low. If you get non-reelected before tenure you have to list that on any application, which will get you passed over in any application process. Some districts allow people to resign when they are going to be non-reelected and they can try again elsewhere with a good excuse for having left their previous employment. Special Education is not a safe harbor either. You must have twice the college of education units, twice the requirements to get the credential (because you will need both a Multi subject Clear and an Education Specialist Level II for a job in CA today), for twice the work and the same pay. Many districts are using a mantra of "inclusion" to dismantle special education programs and push students with disabilities in regular classrooms, subjecting them to extraordinary stresses as they try to master standardized content with their grade-level peers. Lastly, you have absolutely no choice in what grade you teach. The administration places teachers where they want you.

I apologize for getting on my soap box. Still if you are considering being a teacher in California, someone has to change the color of your glasses from rose to clear, so that you can decide if this is what you really want. (hugs) to you, I am somewhat jealous that you are at home with your precious little ones and not under the API/APY hammer each day. Hope all of us have given you some food for thought.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

omg, are you in socal right now? There are absolutely no jobs! (check EDJOIN.ORG) If you are not planning on getting into it for several years then maybe it will be better then. People are dieing to get back into their classrooms. I was a teacher for 5 years in NM before moving here but continue to be a SAHM because there are no jobs. It is a super great schedule, especially for having children, but it is A LOT of work! It's not just the school day... it goes into your evenings and weekends. The pay in CA is pretty good but class size is increasing. If you have a degree in anything then you can to a credential program... (but I don't know anything about it since I transfered) You would have to do a semester (I did a year) of student teaching which can't be done online.

You have to feel teaching in your bones to do it... you must love it. It's a lot of tedious paperwork & unpaid hours in there, but if you love it then it is worth it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I taught for 18 years for 6th grade down. I left to have my 2 adorable children. I love teaching... but times are tough right now. In it's present condition, I would not want to go back to teaching. The good news is that teaching is goes in cycles. They keep on changing their focus. First is was phonics. Then came whole language. Then came blended. The way the district run things right now is terrible. As someone stated earlier, they are teaching to the test. I worked for PUSD for 6 years. They do district-wide testing every 6 weeks. A wasted week when they should be learning instead of filling in little bubbles. As someone said earlier, they are focused solely on academics. They told me what standards to teach, when to teach them and exactly HOW to teach them. The techniques were totally contrary to my personal teaching style. I felt like I had to be sneaky to teach my way.

Many teachers have also been talking about the layoffs. It's terrible. But part of that is a result of the terrible economy. This too will improve in a few years.

Both the techniques and layoffs will run their cycle. And, the next thing you know, they will change as well. Hopefully, for the better. My father taught for 30+. He saw fads come and go.

My advice to you... find a good program that has interning. This will give you hands-on experience and help you find out if teaching is for you. By the time you get out of school (if that's what you decide to do), things will be on the change. We have nowhere to go but up!?



answers from Reno on

N. E

I am not a teacher but there are programs where you can become a teacher on line. They take about two years for each degree. Check into them online and the ones I would personally recommend are Western University online (WIU), University of Phoenix (UOP), or Grand Canyon University (GCU). I have personal experience with these and enjoyed every minute of these classes I took. I am currently working on my Masters through GCU.



answers from Los Angeles on

I am a teacher (first grade) and I absolutely love it. The program I was in included a couple hundred hours of classroom experience, designed to help people discover if they really wanted to be in the classroom. I would try to volunteer, or get a job as an aide, it is totally valuable experience. Motivation is the key; teaching is incredibly draining! Staying inspired is crucial to sticking it out and riding out all the crazy situations. Getting your degree and credential is just the beginning. Once you start teaching you have to clear your credential. More schoolwork and money…I would never push this on anyone else, but I don't desire any other career (other than taking time off to stay home with my son). As much as I hated going back to work after my son was born, it helped so much that I was at least passionate about teaching. Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

I'm in a bit of an odd position;

- I'm in school, working on multiple degrees...

- I've TA'd in both ceramics and microbiology, although I'm not right now...

- I homeschool my 7yo son...

- I've had offers to teach (for pay...decent money... I could make between 20-60k a year depending on how many hours/classes I was willing to do, & for trade) both from homeschool co-ops and community centers. Not taking that on just yet. <grinning> Just too many other things going on right at the moment!

I LOVE AND ADORE teaching. Any age, the discovery of the world is just sooooooo much fun. I'll probably spend my entire life in some kind of academics. I'm working toward being a professor, but I'll also probably keep teaching little ones, too. Kids are just too cool. The homeschool community is amazing, and there are SO many students out there, I'll probably stay in that circle... but there's interest from private/public school parents as well for the kinds of classes I'm good at. I never planned on teaching, I just sort of fell into it.

It is a ton of work. Tons and tons. There are weeks I easily log over 80 hours, and that's just in research & prep. And if you're going the traditional route, there are nearly no jobs... although the traditional route also hands you a curriculum, so *theoretically* less work. Many of the friends I've made who teach k12 levels are scattered all over the country in order to find work. Others, like me, have gone the semi-traditional route, in teaching privately.

An untapped market, btw, is Montessori School. There are thousands and thousands of Montessori preschools, but only a handful of Montessori elementary/ middle/ highschools. The demand is there, but not the schools themselves.

Anyhow, just some food for thought,



answers from Los Angeles on

I've been teaching 10 years and I have a two year old daughter. I don't advise going into teaching right now. Jobs are being cut all over the place and it would be really hard to get a job. This job was really rewarding until I became a parent. Now I find myself wishing I was at home teaching my own child as opposed to being at work. If I were you I would stay at home with my children and focus on them, unless you really have to work.



answers from Honolulu on

All i am going to say is look up how many teachers are out of work. It M. seem like a great idea but it might be better to look into getting an early childhood degree and start a in home daycare vs becoming a teacher.



answers from Houston on

I'm about to do student teaching for high school, but I have already done methods (I still taught in a highschool) and found out I was most pleased to find that I enjoyed it more than I thought.

Here's what the education department at my university says: You have to do it more than 2-5 years. It takes years to get the process of being a teacher down i.e.: make sure your advice comes from people who've taught more than a couple of years and could handle it...



answers from Los Angeles on

I simply clicked on your name and saw that you are located in Hawaii? You need to see how the teaching market is there. I am a second grade teacher. I would rather be a stay at home mom but I love my job. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

For 20 years, in California and internationally - in Japan, Kuwait, France and Spain. Sometimes I loved it - but 'sometimes' in 20 years is not good enough. I tallied it up once - I was expected as a third grade teacher, to teach 12 subjects in 3 languages (English, Spanish, Armenian) this was when I was teaching public school in Pasadena, California. The ones who seemed to enjoy teaching the most were the teachers who had been teaching the same grade for more than 5 years - they knew their topic and were able to teach it and expand on it - they were prepared months in advance.
No, next time around, I don't want a career, I want a job and I think being a TA would be a lot more fun and easier than being a teacher!



answers from San Diego on

I am a teacher, and it is the most wonderful career in the world!

It's a lot of work, and it is very emotionally/physically exhausting, esp. w/the primary grades (K-2). If you are used to being a SAHM, keep in mind that you will come home from work w/a lot less energy than you're used to, esp. at first. My husband became a teacher two years after me, and he would come home beat saying, "Now I know why you were always so tired!"

Now that we have been in our careers for a few years & are used to the strains of it, it is the most incredible job, esp. w/little ones b/c we get off work early enough to still spend a substantial amount of time w/our babies.

I highly encourage you to pursue a teaching career, keeping in mind the difficulty that will come with beginning a new job, esp. one so demanding.

Also, look into the CalTEACH program. You can take classes online to obtain your credential at half the cost of private institutions such as National or UofPheonix.

BEST of luck!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

Wow! Karen's response was perfect! I'm currently on a year-long leave from LAUSD leaving an elementary position. I've been teaching for 12 years and am now considering a change. I've decided that I can't teach in a system that I wouldn't want my son to be educated in....I would feel like a hypocrite. I'm starting to take classes in early childhood education through UCLA. However, I'm also interested in school counseling or speech therapy (another high-demand job in the district). I whole-heartedly agree that you have to go into teaching for the right reasons and know that it's all about the kids. I wish you luck in your journey!!!



answers from San Diego on

A special request: please go into teaching only if you are really passionate about teaching. We already have an educational system filled with teachers who go into the profession because of the option of having June-July-August off. Native English speakers who don't know math or spelling themselves... thus no wonder we continue to have one of the lowest level of education in the industrialized world!


answers from Boston on

Teaching is a lot more than meets the eye. Teachers hold little power. Their grading is scrutinized. Parents think their children are saints...

One mama said do not go into it for June, July, August. I disagree. Every job we take we first investigate the perks.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hey there N.,
I was a teacher for 17 (taught every grade from 1st-5th) years and loved it. It's a great career. The rewards are far reaching, the hours and vacation schedule awesome, and the pay and benefits are decent. It really is the perfect job if you have children of your own. It allows you to be both a good parent and have a career.
However, I will warn you that teaching does have some stressful moments. There are a lot of expectations from many different places, and it requires a lot of self-discipline and scheduling.



answers from Los Angeles on

I WAS a teacher and I taught 4th-8th grades and I was also the director of education for one location of Sylvan. I liked teaching, I like the students, but i hated the academics! lol What I miss most is the mentoring, but that's because I was at the older level. Personally, I couldn't handle the challenges of elementary education. there are a lot of pluses and a lots of minuses to teaching. Yes you get vacations and afternoons off with your kids... but depending on how you manage your time and what you have your children do... there will be paper grading and lesson planning and this or that that you will have to do on your own... also purchasing your own supplies and depending on the district you are in... purchasing basic supplies for your students too! I have a close friend who teaches in Baldwin Park and she spends about 2000 a year on supplies for the kids in her class just so she can attempt to teach them.
I do have a suggestion to avoid University of Phoenix... from what I was told by some principals when I was trying to decide if I should go back and get my credential.... those with a "degree" from there aren't taken as seriously as those who went to a 4 year college/university such as La Verne or CSU Fullerton (which by the way have great teacher education programs).
ONLY you can make the decision if it's all worth it. Personally speaking, I didn't think it was worth it TO ME to spend the money to get a credential for a shaky field (think of all the teachers who were laid off this past year because of mismanaged funds by gov't). At the 2nd grade level you will still get lots of hugs and they are eager to please and conform. :)
Good luck in your decision!


answers from Los Angeles on

Are you in California? Thousands of new teachers have been laid off this year, so you will have a lot of competition. There is a lot of pressure to improve test scores every year ever since Bush had the bright idea to institute NCLB. Every year the bar goes up and schools that aren't able to meet their target growth then become PI (Program Improvement) By 2014, ALL students are supposed to be on grade level, regardless of their language ability or how long they have been in the country. So all school will probably be program improvement by 2014.
Is the job rewarding? Yes. Are the hours great? Yes. Benefits good? They were until now. Our health benefits are being slashed. Is the pay good? Not really, and now LAUSD wants us to take a 14% pay cut and 5 furlough days. Oh, and don't have your heart set on a grade level, you're lucky if you have a job. Just sayin'.
Parents make all the difference in the world. I work in L.A., my brother in Lenox, my sister-in-law in Santa Monica. When I started, I wanted to make a difference, so I went to teach in a low socio-economic area, and I was there for 12 years. Parents were not equiped to help their kids, so it made the job very challenging. After many years, it became frustrating. Now I am at a better school, but this year we just became PI, because like I said, the bar keeps going up and even decent schools in decent areas are challenged to improve, improve, improve. My sister-in-law's school in Santa Monica have the best parents who help out a lot. So this is something to keep in mind. Look for a school where parents are involved in their children's lives. There are many parents who don't care.
I recommend that you get a teaching assistant job, if you don't already have one. That way you can have some good insight to the profession and have good experince when you beging your job search. There will be some huge challenges up ahead in teaching.



answers from Los Angeles on

When I got divorced back 15 years ago I went back to school and became an Elementary teacher. I taught kinder for 8 years as well as subbed until I found a job. When my oldest started school I stopped and became a SAHM. I loved teaching school and wouldn't change a thing. I was teaching back when I had 32 kids in a class and now they are slowly going back to that number. Schooling is hard and student teaching is full time. I was 30 when I returned to school and was very nervous. Only back thing now is with budget cuts and other things at schools it may not be time to do it. Look into the school district and see if they are hiring. Good luck and enjoy!



answers from Reno on

I totally love being a teacher. There are many days when it's frustrating and exhausting, but it's still totally worth it. Be prepared to have your patience tried( mostly by the adults) and feel like you work 80 hours a week and make no progress and be prepared to be appalled by some of the kids and parents. Also realize that your schooling really won't prepare you at all to be a teacher. I suggest when you get your first job you spend the first few prep periods going to other teachers classrooms and find a teacher whose style is like yours and ask them for help.
I totally utterly love it though

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions