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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't be a teacher!

If there is one bit of advice I can give to those thinking of going into the field of K-12 education, it is to find another profession. Don't waste another minute, another red cent pursuing this goal.

I know why you want to teach. You have a kind heart and want to benefit future generations by helping them to become intelligent and knowledgeable. You believe that you can make a difference in the lives of your students, perhaps even the neediest of students. You are a noble individual and believe society will value your nobility, that you will be allowed to use your talents and good intentions to help America's youth.

You couldn't be more wrong.

Teachers are no longer valued by society. The very government agencies you work for see you as cogs in a machine, inefficient ones at that. The classroom in which you work will never be yours; while teachers were ones the rulers of their kingdoms, they are now little better than serfs assigned to a plot of land. Your feudal lords inspect your plot daily, not to offer a helping hand but to find excuses to beat you down. If the land is dry or there is a blight killing your crops, the problem is assumed to be yours alone.

Whoever you are, you deserve a better life than that.

The worst part is that, after teaching for a few years, you become pigeon-holed into the career. I've been teaching for over a decade. My resume is a lead weight around my neck. Whenever I apply for a job, my potential employers cannot help but notice that my professional career is one-dimensional. Sure, I've worked as a freelance business analyst. Sure, I have a Master's degree in public policy. What employers see is a dozen years as a classroom educator. That makes it very difficult to get an interview.

If I had it all to do over, I'd have chosen a different path. Engineering would have been a good fit, or perhaps public administration. I would have been capable of either. Now, I'd have to tackle the challenge of entering a field as a novice near the age of forty. It isn't easy to be considered for an entry-level position in a profession at my age. Believe me; I spent all of last summer trying.

I am still seeking something new. What's sad is that I love teaching, when I'm allowed to do it. My methods have proven successful, whether or not they fit the latest research-based fad. I just got out of a meeting where we were advised to stop following a model we had been trained in and to follow a newer model. Both teaching styles are backed by a plethora of research. I guess one has picked up more momentum among those who think they can teach better than actual teachers.

After twenty years of increased micromanagement of what goes on in classrooms, our country elected a president who promises to accrue massive debt, seize the profits of those companies still making any money, and somehow improve the national economy by doing so. Apparently all of this "school improvement" hasn't made the American voter any smarter.

I got into education because of Thomas Jefferson's assertion that a republic requires an informed citizenry. Well, I'm not allowed to inform the citizenry anymore. If I spend more than ten minutes informing them, my lesson is judged as too "teacher driven." Unless they spend at least half of their time doing worksheets, I'm not doing my job.

I want to choke something.

I'm still looking for a job that will pay enough to support my family and allow me to use my talents and expertise without making them moot by scripting my every move. Any suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Teaching is one of the most thankless and frustrating of jobs. Anyone who teaches deserves the utmost respect and support. The fact that our government, parents and overpaid administrators use teachers as the fall Guy is another sign of our nation's failings. You have more skills in your little finger than any CEO if you are able to actually teach a classroom of kids! Keep trying. You will find an employer that will thank God you came around.


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