Saturday, February 7, 2009

and now what? why?

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Many years I've thought about teaching. I could go through the alternate certification program -- b/c I have a doctorate but not a masters and while the local district says they want experienced professionals from other fields to consider teaching, they still need to make their money by funneling the folks through the system. Can't test out of anything but gotta take all the classes. So okay ... but you can't work and get your certification. There's no procedure to help you decide what grade level or area area of certification you're interested in, or maybe you want to be a generalist. No way to audit or otherwise determine what level you might want to teach but since your certification is geared to specific grade levels, you just gotta close your eyes, pick a level and hope you don't get to the end and find out you screwed up big time. And did I mention you have to do the alt cert program full time and can't work even as you stumble along without any way to know if you're doing the right thing, if teaching is for you or at what level? My child -- who probably knows me as well as anyone when it comes to my suitability to teach -- thinks 3rd grade is my level with 5th the highest, since after that we're into middle school. We are inner city and she's gone to tough schools -- always segregated in a separate program for gifted and talented (aka Vanguard) and her HS is one of the top 50 public HS in the country -- so her experience one would think is a little more positive. According to her, my emotional stability is insufficient to manage much more than 5th grade b/c (she says) after that 1) they carry weapons to school; 2) they come to school loaded, etc.; and 3) they don't care. The teachers making the biggest impact on her were 3rd and 5th -- therefore I should teach 3rd or 5th b/c (she says) I can still make a differecne. For me the teachers that had the biggest impact were HS so therefore, I think HS is it -- maybe I can somehow help 1-2kids every once in a while in HS? Might teaching be fulfilling or would it be more a matter of following someone else's once-size-fits-all rules with no room to deal with the individual, and then be frustrated at the resulting impotence?
And besides not knowing if I would be any good, or what level to teach, or what area to become certified in, and having to quit a steady job with steady pay and benefits, and be totally worthless for the year I'm in school hoping I'm doing the right thing ... if I get out and get a job (there is no promise of any job anywhere after you shell out your money and quit your job) then there is the pay cut, about 33%. So what if I do it all wrong? I may be the most terrible teacher in the world - I'd like to think I would be good but probably I'd be very mediocre at best and end up with nothing to offer. To have cut my family's income to boot just b/c I'm too lazy to do what I'm doing now ... how selfish is that? Don't answer - it's a rhetorical question. I could try to justsify by saying changing careers now, after 20years, would give me some time of my own, some ability to have weekends and evenings free to garden, shoot photos, be with my family, etc. -- but maybe that is not that great a deal for them either. Perhaps in the end it's better to do what I do, bring home the pay, and just count off the next 15 or so years 'til I've put in enough time. Today I taught my Saturday professionalism class and then we goofed off, went to the nursey and bought some plants, all well and good and stuff we've not been able to do together in a very long time, but if all my weekends were free -- at least freere than now which is virtually never -- would they want me around that much? Am I a bitch because I work 60-80 hours a week or am I just a bitch at heart? If the latter, it seems preferable that I continue to work insane hours and have less family time and maybe no one will figure out that I really am just a bitch at heart. And it's not just the work hours... what I do for a living doesn't matter; it's frivolous and irrelevant and I'd like to think I can do something that matters. If I taught could I make a difference? I don't know -- how can you know before you get some experience? It's probably not a right reason for anything; it's only self-centered and egotistical, and doesn't fit well with the notion of trying to do something for someone else.
I wish there was an easy answer, that I knew what to do ... that I could know what was right, if I had the ability to teach, if it would improve the quality of my life, of my family's life.
And after 20 years doing what I do, I feel like I need to figure this out soon so I have enough time to work and earn a doable retirement before I'm just too damn old...because one thing I do know is that I don't want to work right into the grave.


brtom said...

Wish I could give you a good answer, but you know I'm all swept up in some very similar questions. I DO think I'm coming to see that stepping away from my usual (32-year) routine has been not only a luxury but a necessity for me to begin to see some things more clearly ... hoping that some clarity will make future choices feel better.

But teaching = more free evenings & weekends? Maybe so, but ...

ms said...

well as it is i work 7 days a week, most evenings, and probably average 70-80 hours a week. mostly i hate trials -- too much work all on short deadline and often i have to prepare multiple cases for trial all at once, plus rearrange my schedule and try to get everything covered, try to figure out how to be everywhere at once. Friday I was scheduled to be in 5 different counties between 9 and 10 am and no one to help so ... i missed 4 hearings in 4 counties and had bad results in 2 of them. So yeah, I think teaching would be less work ... am I really that wrong?

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