I have never been so excited or more nervous for a new semester in my life. I think the last I wrote on the blog about my studies I was going to major in education and be a teacher. That has since changed. I worked at a school last year and dealt with a lot of different issues in that time. Not just personality conflicts (teachers can be catty, holy cowbells!) but also came to this stark realization that there is so much wrong with K-12 education and I’m not sure if I really want to fight that battle. I think I’ll leave that up to those better suited.
Unfortunately, due to the demands of everything put on the districts, schools, and teachers, in my experience I think that 90% of “teaching” is discipline and classroom management and only about 10% actual teaching. I think out of our 6 1/2 hour day we had maybe a 2 hour block dedicated solely to teaching the core subjects (not just busy work) with no “interruptions” like recess or specials but within that block there are so many interruptions like finding books, redirecting behaviors, finding page numbers, bathroom breaks, etc. I think it comes down to the minutes, really. It was really eye opening.
Then you have the teachers. They’re such a mixed bag. I had a pretty good teacher that I worked with where our philosophies were for the most part closely aligned and as far as intelligence she was definitely further up on that scale than some of the others. We had a lot of deep and meaningful discussions about the state of education. She was also a first year teacher with so much to learn as far as experience and trusting her instincts. Some teachers, however, I don’t know why they went into teaching. It’s like my aunt says, some people have a calling, some people use it as a step up to something else like administration or post-secondary teaching, and others don’t know what they want to do so they just go with what they think will be easiest. They are SO wrong and that is SO wrong to do to the children. They hate their jobs and it shows. Sadly, this is what I saw most often where I worked. That or burn-out which is another very common theme among teachers. The pressures put on teachers is so great that I can see why most teachers don’t make it past 3 years. Frankly, as we ALL know, they aren’t paid enough. I get it. You get jaded. For more than the amount you make as a teacher you can work in retail and have exponentially less pressure. Sure, a hell of a less meaningful job but a hell of a lot less stress and one you don’t take home with you that definitely doesn’t let you work over 40 hours! It never ends for teachers.
I could go on about this as I’m sure a million other people could, so I know I am not being revelatory by any means. Since I was working in an elementary school, a part of me hoped that this would be somewhat different if I got into my intended secondary school. However, after speaking at length with a professor whom I really liked last semester he burst my bubble and let me know that high schools are just the same: faculty is just as catty, intelligence about the same, the will to be there is the same, and behavior issues are increased tenfold. He told me that frankly he didn’t think I’d be happy teaching high school and he’d rather see me go for my Masters. He even gave me a thesis topic! So, that’s what I’m currently exploring. I changed my major from Secondary Education – English to just English and I’m looking into the concurrent Master degree programs that are offered at my university so I can try to knock out some graduate courses while completing my Bachelors.
This is what has me so excited and nervous both at the same time. I’m excited to be attending the university and taking some really cool upper division courses (I’m all done with lower) in subjects that really interest me (hello Darwin?!), but it’s also incredibly scary to jump from all 200 level courses to 400 level courses. I have always had really good relationships with my professors at the community college and been well liked and done very well and this is a whole new ball game for me. I am going to be 1 of 400 now and basically a nobody. Another huge and mostly unwanted change is that all 5 of the classes I am taking are online. I am making this sacrifice for my family because we really can’t afford more daycare for Finn than we already have to and I need to have a mostly open and flexible schedule for work as I have been applying for part-time jobs for the school year. With the Count working full-time and being our “primary breadwinner” now, my schedule isn’t prioritized. So I am sacrificing my beloved lectures and face-to-face with professors for my family. We’ll see how this works out for my schooling as I have never been a fan of online classes.