Thinking About Being a Teacher, Anyone Have Personal Experience with This?

Updated on August 03, 2010
N.D. asks from Campbell, TX
13 answers

I am 38 WAHM. I have been thinking of going back to school to be a teacher. I would love to hear good and bad experiences from teachers about their chosen careers.

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answers from Miami on

Dear N.,
I love love love teaching. It is so rewarding. I love knowing that I am helping to influence (I hope :) how people think and relate to society.

I teach at the college level, but came across it by chance/fortune. To help me, I read Erica Grunwalds (sp?) book about the Freedom writers, as well as "Marva Collins Way". Both books really impacted my teaching style.

HTH and GL.

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answers from Chicago on

Good question. I am contemplating the same thing. I'm a 33 yr. old SAHM, 8 years corporate business experience, but feel education is my passion. I just wonder if it's the right choice. I also fear all the layoffs will create a surplus of teachers making finding a job hard...but then again a lot of baby boomers will be retiring in the next few years. I also wonder if I want to join what some would call a "broken system." I'm also against the tenure system, feels it contributes to the education problems & I may lose my peace & sanity if I join something in which I disagree with some of the processes.

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answers from San Francisco on

I love being an educator. It is extremely satifying teaching young children to read, knowing that I am the one who gave them this incredible skill that will open so many doors in the future.

But, it is also an extremely difficult time to be a teacher. The face of education is dramatically changing, some good changes and some not so good.

You have to ask yourself, "Can I deal with the stress of working in an environment where there is never enough money, supplies or time to do justice to the job?" Don't underestimate what it takes to be a teacher. My husband still says, "You'll so lucky, you get out at three." No, I don't. A good teacher says late into the afternoon/ evening prepping, attending meetings and classes, calling parents and working with children after school.

You will meet a wide variety of co-workers including principals who bring different philosophies and methods to the schools. Some will clash with your knowledge and background. Sometimes even though you are well educated in a certain area, they will demand that you teach straight out of the manual without adding to the curriculum.

So, yes being a teacher is wonderful if it is your passion and you can look beyond the chaos that surrounds schools these days. It may be hard to get a job due the massive layoffs recently throughout the US. But hopefully by the time you have your credential in hand our economy will look different.

Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

I ended up teaching high fluke...I wanted to change jobs and happened to have a master's degree in a field that one of the local high schools needed a teacher (not a very common field) was a magnet program for kids wanting to go into this specific vocation.. I applied and ended up loving teaching so much I went back and took the courses I needed to test and receive my certification.

My suggestion would be to check with your local school district(s) and find out if they have programs to help yo gain your teaching certificate. Also, how quickly you are allowed in the classroom to observe. Substituting would also be great to get a feel for the classroom and see if you have a natural feel for the kids and classroom management.

The woman who had my teaching position before me would sit at her desk after school everyday and cry for about 30 minutes then pack up and go home. She just wasn't cut out for the job...some people are just not...make sure you really are right for teaching and teaching is right for you, before you spend the money to go back to school. Good Luck!!

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answers from Atlanta on

What level do you want to teach? I used to teach, and I honestly got very burned out, but I would do it again if the circumstances were right (probably only in a private school or really good charter school). If you are going into it VERY realistically and you know that you're going to have a lot to deal with from parents, kids, administrators, etc., then pursue it! We DESPERATELY need good teachers, but if you go in with an idealized picture and thinking of lots of time off, you're going to be very disappointed. A lot of that time off is spent in "in-services" and developing things for your class. You also take quite a bit of work home with you for nights and weekends, particularly in the first few years.

I taught at a school where the kids were relatively high income -nice houses, clothes, etc., but their parents were all working 2 jobs to get them there. Parental involvement was extremely low, and it showed in discipline and failure rates. The first year I taught was a much different school with a lot of parental involvement, and it was night and day. I left to take a higher paycheck, and I should have stayed! If you go into teaching, interview the principals when you go on interviews, and make sure you find out about their parental involvement. You want to teach somewhere where kids are made to do homework and behavior issues aren't something the school is supposed to deal with and correct. I don't want to discourage you, but you need to think about all of this. A good friend of mine just quit teaching because even though many of us told her all of this, she went in with very idealistic notions. Be a realist, and you'll be okay!

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answers from San Antonio on

I don't know what a WAHM is (work at home?), but I taught for 5 years and am now a SAHM. I thought teaching would be 7am-3pm, with time after work to go to dr. appts and cook dinner, etc. WRONG. Faculty meetings once a week, papers to grade, lessonplans to write, grade-level-meetings, testing meetings (TAKS test training), etc etc. Now that I am a stay-at-home-mom, I can't imagine going back to work. I'd be over-stressed and super tired.

Yes teaching is great and I loved it when I was a teacher. I have a LOVE to watch children grow and learn. Do you have this too? Weekends off and all summer long vacation, spring break, winter break ...Those are great perks too. But the time that you ARE working, you ARE WORKING!

So I guess it depends on how much of your time is needed at home - laundry, cooking, cleaning, kids. If you don't spend a lot of time on these things now, then give it a go with school and teaching. If you're tired or overwhelmed already with all the stuff you have going on, then you'll be doubly stressed when you get home from school too tired to want to cook dinner and wash dishes and give the kids a bath.

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answers from San Diego on

VISIT the schools/districts you would be interested in and OBSERVE some classrooms and talk to the teachers about their typical workday--ASK QUESTIONS (teachers love questions!!!). You will find that the culture at various campuses can make a huge difference... everything from student behavior to teacher happiness levels to parent (over)involvement or lack thereof.

I work at a high school that team teaches and I love the collaboration, which was instrumental in my success as a new teacher (7 years ago). I have always felt very supported by my peers and admin here and I happily report that teaching is a very rewarding job. I am working part-time in a resource position right now so that I can take care of my 2 toddler children, but I REALLY MISS having my own classroom and 90 students per term to call "my kids." I LOVE teaching!

Also remember that different colleges have different policies/programs for getting your credential and getting you in the classroom--like at what point in the program you have to pass your state tests by and when/where you do your student teaching. It is a BIG investment of time and also financially to pay for your courses and NOT get paid for student teaching (which was basically my full time unpaid job for 3 months). So just make sure the job is right for your personality and your lifestyle before jumping in deep.

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answers from Dallas on

I only read a few responses that you got, so I will throw in my two cents!
One person suggested starting out by subbing --- don't do that. That will NOT give you an idea of how teaching is .... the class is always worse than they would be for you as their teacher. I would go and observe a teacher in her own personal classroom. And observe different grade levels so you can get an idea of what grade you would like to teach.

I have taught 1st grade and Pre-K and LOVE the younger kids ... I am certified Pre-k through 4th grade.

One misconception is that teachers work from 7:30-3:30 -- NOT TRUE! It is a full time job!! I worked from 7:00-4:30 or 5:00 AND I did stuff at home everyday!! I am not sure that I will go back to teaching while my kids are young! When I taught, I was newly married so I had time to spend at school.

But I love it .... just choose wisely and don't do it just for the summer's off. Yes, they're nice, but we need teachers who LOVE teaching and LOVE the kids! We need devoted teachers ... maybe you are one of them!

Good luck with whatever you choose!




answers from Houston on

Hi N.-

I was a high school teacher before staying at home with my children and I plan to go back at the upper elementary/jr. high level in a couple of years. It is an awesome job. The one thing I would ask you to do is to write down what your expectations of the job are. What do you think a day is like for a teacher and be honest. Then find a teacher and ask them about it to see if you are on the right track.

The only problem I see some people run into is that they see teaching as an 8:00 - 3:00 job with weekends/holidays and summers off. Like I said it's a wonderfully rewarding job but most school days were more like 7-5 and there was plenty of grading and lesson plan preparation nights and weekends. Of course having summers off is great but in my case my class load changed almost yearly so there was always a new class I had to prepare to teach over the summer for the next fall.

For me the biggest challenge I ever had was the parents. Most were wonderfully supportive but there are many who will challenge you with everything.

Good luck,



answers from New York on

i have had several different teaching jobs in a wide variety of settings and neighborhoods. the best part of all of them is the kids, i do love teaching and i miss the kids so much now that i am home. there are a lot of negatives though. it is exhausting. you mostly work about 7 to 5, then come home and do homework. the part that i found the hardest is that even when you are "done" for the day/weekend,,, if you are a conscientous teacher, you are just never really done, there are always things you can (and should?) be doing, improving, changing, etc. i didnt like that feeling always hovering over me, the guilt and the un-finished feeling all the time. but i did like the creativity and coming up with better ways to teach something. i also found it hard working with mostly women, they can be so nasty and there are so few men to balance/mellow things out. the politics can be awful too. it really depends on the district and how supportive they are of their teachers. i worked for one principle who used to make teachers cry, she was so nasty, but she allllways had our back in front of a parent, even if she disagreed with us in private. and she never caved in to pressure from the district or the parents, which made for a very safe secure school with good structure and high standards. not very warm and fuzzy, but you knew where you stood and the teachers were committed to the children. a couple of things i would do would be to hang out at the school around dismissal time. if all the teachers run out at 3, i would question the level of committment in the school and the level of satisfaction and good feelings of the staff. i have worked in schools with contract problems, etc, and its awful when everyone is angry and feels taken advantage of. the kids lose out and you lose the best part of teaching, which of course is feeling like you give your best and make a difference. go to a pta meeting too, you will get an idea of involvement of both the parents and the teachers. and not the first meeting or 3, thats not a good indicator.
overall, if you really love kids, its a wonderful job. its tiring, but i find being a sahm much more exhausting. summers off is definitely wonderful, and being on the same schedule as your kids. though when i was teaching, i always had to supplement my income by teaching in the summer, but thats not bad at all, i mostly tutored, which is nice and flexible. try to see what the climate is in your area, talk to teachers and parents, go to pta meetings, go to board/budget meetings. subbing is a good way to get an idea of how you like being in the classroom, but its not like regular teaching. its a good job in itself in some ways. i was a regular sub when i was pregnant, it was perfect for me. i gave up real job satisfaction and building relationships with the kids (and money) in return for truly walking out the door free and clear at 3 30, which was perfect for me at the time. and its a great way to get your foot in the door. good luck.



answers from Dallas on

Teaching is awesome, if you can substitue for a year after you are certified.. If not-- its nearly impossible to get into to a school. I went back to get certified while working full time and pregnant-- I have not been able to find a full time postion for middle school science. Teaching is hard work and requires tons of at home preparation.. Its not an easy career, but if you love children and helping them learn -- it is worth all the extra effort.


answers from Dallas on

I'd start out by substituting. I sub at 1 school since 2000 when my daughter was in k there. I continue to only sub at this school and they would take me 3 days a week if I wanted.

Subbing is a good way to get to know the teams, what grade level you prefer. A lot of new teachers are hired from the teacher interns and substitutes in our area.



answers from Sacramento on

It is doable for sure, I did it in my early 40's after grad. college and working in another field 20 + yrs . I wante to make a change when I turned 42 or so that I wanted to spend more time w/ my family and hbe at home w/our 4th grade daughter and started looking into teaching after working at her school for a few yrs as an aide and in a completely different field for 17 yrs before taht. I called the local community college to see what I woud have to do to make the change and get my certificate to each. After applying to get in I took classes PT days and 1 night per week when my daugther was in elementary/middle schoo for 1 1/2 yrsl. My husband and dauther were supportive and I got through my cousework in Early Childhood Educ. with no problems. I was terrified at 1st of even of the thought of going bk to college and was an average student in college in the mid -80's. I found the the community college was the route for me after some research. Classes were quite reasonable and I found it much easier to go bk to college than I thought. I didnt even know if my brain had deteriorated too much over all of the yrs I was working in my original field. Not even sure I would still be able to write a college level pape, let alone read college text books, but thankfully it still worked :D I chose to become a preschool teacher so I woud not have to go bk to college any longer than I did. Since I had a college degree from a 4 yr school in the 80's, a number of my classes I took then I got credit for since I attended a state university. In this state I love now I found out I could actually take a state exam to teach in the prmary or secondary grades combined with my new coursework, but I chose not to at this point. I found a job immediatley as a Pre-K teacher after completing my student teaching. Now I work in a small private Christian preschool and I truly love every day of it. The children are a delight and so engaging and eager to learn and sweet too. I would decide what grade you are interested in teaching and call a local community college in your area to talk to an admissions/guidance counselor. Mine was very helpful and encouraging. If you have had any college previously take in your old transcripts. They can tell you what you would need to take to get your teaching certificate in TX. Some of the classes you have taken earlier may even be transferable for your certificate. I'd give it a try for sure Mom. Hope you do!

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