So I’ve almost made a decision. I mean, in my mind, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to be a teacher.
But, I still haven’t told my friends and family yet. I’m really afraid that they’re going to be disappointed in me. I know they shouldn’t be, and that they should be happy that I’m pursuing something I truly want to pursue. But a little part of me still thinks that a little part of them will still be disappointed that their daughter/friend/sister isn’t going to become a doctor, and is going to “just” be a teacher instead.
I’m working on convincing myself that this is okay. My personal happiness and satisfaction is what’s important here. I have to live with my own career and life choices, no one else does.
So after going back and reading my previous posts, it’s pretty obvious (to me) what I want to do. (Is it obvious to everyone else?)
I want to be a teacher.
However, I still have concerns and I’m still not sure if I’m ready to go through with it. For one thing, I’m pretty worried about the fact that I might be idealizing the profession. Like, sure, I want to teach kids and share my love of math/CS/science/whatever, but is that really what I’m going to be doing every day? Or is it going to be more like fighting with kids to get them to do their assignments and being disappointed when they fail their tests? Or maybe it will be trying and failing to control the classroom and I won’t even get to the part where I teach them stuff. I’m already getting anxious about the idea of having to call home to parents all the time.
Clearly I am not confident in my abilities to be an effective teacher.
BUT, I think I could practice and learn and eventually become a good teacher. Is it worth it though? Will I get fed up with the school environment before that happens? I’m pretty introverted and a bit of a perfectionist, so burnout is a real consideration too.
Another question of course is am I willing to move around for a few years in order to get a permanent position and eventually work in the city where I want to be? If it’s just a year or two or even three, then I’m fine with that. But with closing schools and cuts to education and all that, I’m not sure what the job climate will be like in a few years’ time.
So would I regret not pursuing medicine at that point? Maybe, but that career path comes with its own set of problems. (And also includes the likely possibility that I won’t end up living where I want to live at least for several years after I finish school.) I find it really hard to make up my mind about all this.
Well, a few days ago I wrote up a (certainly not exhaustive) list of the “pros” of becoming a teacher. Now’s the time for the slightly more unpleasant task of writing a list of “cons”, or reasons why teaching is maybe not the most desirable career path to follow.
Keep in mind, that all of this is based on the view from the “outside”. I’ve never been a teacher (I have been a tutor, TA, and a coach though) but I don’t know exactly what it’s like and I don’t know exactly how much I personally would like or dislike it. Anyway, here’s the list.
- I’m afraid that I’m going to be bad at it and start hating it. Then that leaves me in a position where I’ve basically gone all in on something that didn’t work out. I know, I know, “Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying,” and all that, but still, it’s pretty scary.
- Assuming I’m not the most terrible teacher ever, I think I would be pretty happy with the actual teaching part of the job. BUT, it’s not the only part of the job. There’s the paperwork, and dealing with misbehaving kids, and of course dealing with parents. Those parts are not at all appealing to me. So would the teaching positives outweigh those negatives? I think only experience will tell… Is it worth the gamble? That’s the issue I’m facing right now.
- Prestige. I hate hate hate to admit this, but it really is a factor in my decision. No one goes into teaching over medicine if they have the choice, do they? Of course, that mindset is part of the problem- we need intelligent teachers as role models for students, because education is important. But anyway…
- “There are no jobs.” Now, I know that’s not entirely true, but it is an issue to consider. Jobs in the city are not easy to come by right out of school, so people are often in the position where they are forced to take jobs far away from home in order to get a permanent position. The alternative is subbing for years. Not the greatest options, but I guess I’m not opposed to moving rural for a few years. I eventually want to be in the city though, I think.
- Sort of along the same lines as the previous point, but the province is poor. These are not good times. Education received fairly significant cuts in the most recent budget, so none of that bodes well for teachers. Of course, on the flipside, schools aren’t going away, and education is important in hard times, so it should be a focus. Of course, politicians might not see it that way.
- This is closely related to points 4 and 5, but the pay is not the greatest. I could most definitely make more money in several other careers that I am quite qualified for. I could be a computer engineer and make more right off the bat, or if I end up pursuing medicine, then there’s the potential for me to make 5 or even up to 10 times what I could make as a teacher. BUT, money isn’t everything, and it’s never been the main thing for me. (Hello, privilege, I know. I’ve been fortunate that money has not been a concern for me throughout my life so far.) But even still, I get this feeling of guilt that I would potentially be depriving my future children of advantages that only money could provide. I realize this is probably quite silly since teachers in Canada are quite fairly compensated, and I would hope that if I have kids I would also have a husband who would be contributing to the household. But even still, the guilt is lingering in the back of my mind.
- I feel like I’d be disappointing others. I’d be disappointing my high school math teacher who told me I could do better than following in his footsteps. (Do I really believe that though? I’m trying not to.) I’d be disappointing my family friend who wrote me a letter of reference for medical school and gave me advice about medical careers. (I would hope she’d still be happy for me if I pursue other goals, but still I sense potential disappointment.) I’d be disappointing all of my teachers and professors who have invested time and effort into my own education- is teaching kids really reaching my full potential? (I’d like to think so, but most of society probably doesn’t see it that way!)
So I think that’s it for the negatives. I know, I should stop caring what other people think. If I left off the “cons” centering around that I’d have a much shorter list. If I left off reasons stemming from my own lack of confidence as well, then I’d basically be left with financial reasons. And like I mentioned, the financial reasons don’t really bother me that much. Teachers in Canada get paid a fair and reasonable salary (in my opinion) plus I’d have summers off! Chance to work for extra $$ or relax and enjoy the free time.
What does all this mean? I’m still trying to figure that out.
(I know this post is a little all over the place. Just trying to get all my thoughts down to try and get some perspective and make a decision.)
So my previous post was a little silly. I wasn’t intending to make it public, but then I tweeted it, but then I chickened out and deleted the tweet, while still leaving the blog link in my profile. I mean come on Jane, make up your mind already.
Anyway, it was pretty helpful to write it all out so I decided to keep writing, and here we are. I decided to make this post about the “teaching pros” or the reasons why I might indeed like to become a teacher.
- I’ve always felt a bit drawn to it (since high school at least- I wrote high school math teacher in my yearbook as my “probable fate”) and often thought that it’s what I would end up doing eventually.
- I think (hope) I could be good at it. I’d probably have to work on my patience and my classroom management skills, for example, among many (many) other things, but I’m remaining optimistic about this.
[It is basically my greatest worry though. What if I go all in on teaching and it turns out that it just wasn’t meant to be? I’m pretty quiet and introverted most of the time, though I’ve also won a couple of awards for presentations, so I think it could go either way.]
- I love math and science and am pretty passionate about getting more girls involved in the tech world. Teaching would be a great way to do this (by hopefully being an enthusiastic role model to both girls and boys).
- There’s a fairly significant push nowadays to introduce computer science in schools… I don’t know how close Newfoundland is to this point (hello again, budget cuts) but I would love to be a part of bringing computer science to students. Even if it’s after school or as an elective, I still think it would be fun.
- I was lucky to have a lot of great teachers throughout my school career. I’m inspired by a lot of them and I owe a lot to Mr. S, Mr. S, Mr. P, Mr. E, Mrs. O, and Mrs. H (who might not even remember me but that’s okay because I remember her kind words).
- I also had my fair share of not-so-good teachers. By becoming a teacher myself it might mean that kids have at least one less bad experience in school (I mean, assuming I’m good at the job… haha).
- It would be socially acceptable to dress up for holidays again. 😀
- Cliche, but summer holidays has to be on this list.
- I could hopefully introduce kids to special experiences like I had in school (enrichment opportunities, trips, etc.) which I think had a big impact on my life.
- I want to be a coach, too. Of course I’m not limited to becoming a teacher but I think the work schedule/work-life balance is a lot more conducive to coaching youth sports as a teacher than as a doctor, for example.
- I’m also pretty excited at the thought of being involved in student math competitions or clubs like robotics team. But again, could do this even if I don’t become a teacher if I really wanted to.
- Public pay scales and pensions. Sure the salaries might not be the highest, but it would be enough for me. And I like the thought of not having to compete for promotions or switch jobs every few years in order to get a raise (apparently that’s the tech industry these days).
[I would really like to know how there’s teachers on the infamous sunshine list making $100k+ though. My understanding is that the salary scale caps out at a little over $90k…]
- How could I forget this: I DO NOT WANT TO SIT AND STARE AT A COMPUTER ALL DAY. I love the idea that I would get to interact with people in school. I know, what a weird thing for an introvert to say. But I’ve definitely noticed that I’m happier when I’m around people. Plus, talking to a class full of students is quite a bit different than having a discussion with a group of strangers at a party or something.
- I don’t know if it’s wise to admit this, but I’ve read books about teaching math, for fun. And of course I’ve scoured the internet for every article about teaching, and about who should become a teacher, and about what characteristics teachers should have in order to be successful. I’ve watched hours of videos and read countless blogs about education, about teaching strategies, and about what it’s like to be a teacher. I’ve never told anyone this, so there’s my confession.
I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but there you have it. I’ve made and re-made this list several times over the past months and years, so it’s not particularly enlightening to me. But it’s still fun to write it out one more time and think it through.
I’ll post about the cons later (there are probably just as many) but one important thing that I know I need to keep in mind is that my own experience going through school was largely positive. I really liked school (the learning part) and I excelled at it. I’m not sure how easy it would be for me to relate to students who struggle and as a result become unmotivated and disengaged. More than anything else, this is probably the main thing that’s held me back from pursuing teaching as a career.
On the off-chance that someone out there is reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Can you think of any more “pros” of being a teacher?
I know, I know, the Internet can’t tell me what to do with my life. But hey, I find it useful to write out my thoughts so maybe this will help anyway.
Here’s the dilemma: I have no idea what profession to choose, what career path to follow, and it’s weighing on me pretty heavily these days. I am so jealous of my friends who have found great careers that they enjoy. I know, it’s silly to be jealous of something like that, because my life is actually pretty great. And besides, life’s a journey, and we shouldn’t get caught up in what other people are doing.
But come on. We all do sometimes. It’s in our nature, I think, especially these days when social media basically is our social life. It’s just so easy to look around at people you know and see them succeeding in their personal, professional, and social lives and to be jealous of what we see. It’s unreasonable and irrational, but that’s it.
So that brings me to my personal dilemma. A bit of background on me might help, so here’s Jane in brief:
- Graduated high school in ’07. (Smarty-pants, valedictorian, math geek, with a scholarship to the local university.)
- Went to university for computer engineering and enjoyed school but did not enjoy the internships nearly as much.
- Decided to pursue grad school in the slightly-related-but-different-and-hopefully-more-interesting field of computational biology.
- While certainly interesting, it turns out, that’s not exactly my “thing” either.
- Next step: feel like a failure in life who’s never going to amount to anything. I am going to be part of the broken pipeline of women in tech. I’M LETTING MY LADIES DOWN AND I’M LITERALLY THE WORST.
- Breathe. Realize that I’m an intelligent person and in fact there are many career paths I can still pursue. Phew.
- Apply to med school on a whim (basically).
- Get accepted to med school. Cool?
- Be happy and excited for approximately one day. Spend the next few weeks
thinking obsessing about whether or not I actually want to go to med school. Constantly try weighing the pros and cons. (Surprisingly hard to do when you have very little personal experience in the field.)
- Note: WHAT KIND OF CRAZY PERSON DOESN’T WANT TO BE A DOCTOR!?!?!!
- Me, apparently.
- Continue freaking out about life and the future while simultaneously knowing that it really doesn’t matter and it’s really going to be ok but all the while still freaking out. Breathe.
- Go back to thinking about pursuing the career path you kinda-secretly-always wanted to pursue but people discouraged you from doing so because you were too smart to be a teacher. (Yeah, sends a great message to kids, doesn’t it?)
- Write more lists of pros and cons and hypothetical what-ifs. Continue freaking out. Compare yourself to friends who seem to have life figured out. (Pro-tip: they probably don’t.)
- Worry about everything constantly. (Note to self: IT’S ALL GOING TO BE OK.)
- Look at pay scales (and sunshine lists- LOL) and wonder why anyone would choose to be a teacher over being a doctor (or engineer). Laugh at yourself, but be grateful (seriously) that you have the luxury of making this choice.
- Read a lot of blogs written by teachers and a lot of blogs written by doctors, in an attempt to “research” both professions.
- Continue freaking out because reading about other peoples’ lives != figuring out what to do with your own.
- Decide to write your own blog post in an attempt to sort out your thoughts.
…And here we are. I’m Jane, I’m 26 years old, and I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life. AND I’M TRYING REALLY HARD TO CONVINCE MYSELF THAT THAT’S OK.
This post is (obviously, I hope) not meant to be taken super seriously, but I actually am interested in other peoples’ opinions. So if you end up reading this, leave a comment! What do you think I should do? And why?
- Go to med school. Become a doctor. Make lots of $$$ and impact lots of lives.
- Get an education degree. Experience the reality that there are no jobs for teachers (hello recent budget cuts making things even worse). Kick myself for turning down med school acceptance.
- (Get a haircut and) get a real job. This is not really what I want to do right now, but it’s worth remembering that I do have useful, marketable skills, and that computer engineers (or computational biologists!) can make $$ (and a difference) too.
Anyone else out there facing a similar dilemma? Yeah, didn’t think so. #obviouschoice #notobvioustome
Thanks for reading!