I don't currently teach, but I taught four years in junior high school in a private school (6th, 7th, 8th grade reading/language arts, 6th grade Social Studies and 7th grade science; homeroom was 7th grade.)
Teaching, like most professions, has its pluses and minuses.
What I liked about teaching was the actual work. I really enjoyed working with my students, coming up with creative lessons, seeing the progress as my students grasped concepts and began to improve. The public school system in that city really stunk (at least at the time) and a lot of the parents would try to get their kids in during middle school to get them away from the gang environment. Trouble was, a lot of them had been given a ride in school because they weren't troublemakers, even if they weren't achieving, and they were very far behind where they should be. We had a number of remedial kids who had a lot of ground to cover, but also a couple of kids who turned out to be truly stellar. I really felt as if I made a difference for those kids, and that was extremely rewarding. And, I really liked them. They were good kids, even if some were a little rough around the edges.
What I did not like about teaching: All the extra work which was only peripherally related to teaching and the number of hours it took to do it properly. By that, I mean grading papers/projects, etc., calling the prima donna parents who were incensed when I *wouldn't* give their kids easy grades. I especially did not like the flood of nonsense paperwork the state constantly threw our way. I wasted *hours* on that crap. I also hated, hated, hated standardized testing -- my classes always did well, but we lost SO much time and IMO, the tests were nothing more than bragging rights for the school, since it didn't adequately cover what we were *supposed* to be teaching according to our Graded Course of Study.
Most of all, I hated the time drain and the horrible pay. The good part about working for a private school was that the staff was small and everyone else was as enthusiastic about their job as I. The administration was also great about backing us up. We did not have discipline problems and we had the option to pitch a kid out if we needed to -- but that was an option almost never exercised, because none of the kids wanted to go back to the horror of the public schools (and their parents would have clobbered them for wasting the tuition money!)
When we talk about a time drain, I mean I spent seventy to eighty hours a week, every single week. That included time spent supervising Odyssey of the Mind, time spent going to the library to check out boxes of books and do research for units, time spent grading papers and doing administrative stuff, changing bulletin boards, etc. I had no time for anything else. And long vacations? Hah. I had to stay after two weeks to do end of year stuff and come in two weeks early to set up the classroom and do inservice. Out of my 'free' time, I had to take continuing education courses. I got about two to three real weeks of vacation all summer, if that.
The time and money factors were what finally got me out of the profession. I wanted to be able to spend time with my own family and I wanted to have enough money to do fun things with them. As it was, I was paid just 20K (and this was in 1996) -- and I have a Master's. When I went back to paralegal work (which is what I did to work my way through grad school), I tripled my salary, got bonuses, worked 40 hours a week and left my work behind when I came home. Much, much less stress and much much more money.
I do miss the actual work occasionally, and I do regret losing the feeling that I was doing so much good...but the fact is, family comes first, and my own children needed me first and foremost.
I wish you the best of luck!
Answered By: Lionors - 12/15/2009