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thesparrow's avatar

Teachers' College -- is it possible to find out you don't want to do this for the rest of your life ?

Asked by thesparrow (2733points) November 7th, 2012

I am in teachers’ College right now and I am disillusioned with teaching at the high school level (let’s make sure to distinguish that from other levels, such as primary or College/ University). I was a TA (teaching assistant) and I worked with a department for 2 years while doing my MA. I went into teachers’ College because I loved leading tutorials.

However, teaching at the high school level is very different and although I wouldn’t say I completely hate it, I do not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I see myself getting into upper-level teaching of some sort. For any teachers, has this happened to you? How do you deal with it and can one say that what I am going through is normal and that I will adjust to teaching?

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13 Answers

DrBill's avatar

I also disliked HS teaching, so I taught at the college level and was very happy there.

SpatzieLover's avatar

A friend taught one year of HS level Spanish and couldn’t take it. He went into pharmaceutical sales and loves it.

Another, also a foreign language teacher, went into corporate translation instead. Also happy and has perks of overseas travel.

Buttonstc's avatar

I started out at teachers college training to teach HS English because that’s the one thing I was naturally good at.

But after experience at a summer camp working with 8–9 yr. olds, I realized how much I enjoyed that age group.

So that’s where I ended up for most of my teaching years at 3–4th grade level. (with a short time spent with Jr. High English and substitute teaching at various grade levels).

It’s not al all unusual to adjust your grade preference levels as you go on.

I wouldn’t want to be teaching English to the High Schoolers of today either :) At least not in most public schools.

You’re case is certainly not that unusual at all. One of the main purposes of going to college is to find out what you really are best suited for and what type of career you would find rewarding. Follow your instincts and be glad you’re discovering this now rather than after you’ve been in a job and miserable at it for several years.

Sunny2's avatar

Every teacher has an age group s/he prefers. Having worked with K-12th grades, I preferred grades 6–8. Some friends can’t imagine why. I enjoyed kids that age.

harple's avatar

I realised a month into my teacher training (a one-year post-grad for primary school level) that classroom teaching wasn’t going to be for me. I completed the year however, and learnt some of my most valuable life-skills from that training and the experience. I’m now a peripatetic harp teacher, so I teach one-to-one and small groups, but on a very specialised subject, and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t earn anything like my colleagues who continued in mainstream teaching, but happiness isn’t measured by how much you have in the bank.

wundayatta's avatar

Different teachers have an affinity for different ages. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers let themselves get stuck in jobs they don’t like, but can’t afford to leave because they make too much (after building up significant seniority). My daughter goes to the best high school in town, and it is a plum assignment for teachers who want the smartest kids.

But according to my daughter, many of these teachers are in their sixties and are just playing out the string, and really don’t seem interested in teaching any more—if they were ever interested. They just go through the motions, handing out text book reading assignments and tests, and never explaining much of anything. If you ask for help, they tell you to read the book. Sad.

So if you don’t like it, please don’t do it. Find a group of kids you feel an affinity with. Do the kids and yourself a favor.

thesparrow's avatar

Hi Guys,

thanks for all of your responses! Very helpful! I had a pretty good lesson on Thursday during one of my classes so it might be too early to gauge whether I really dislike this profession yet. Sometimes I think the reason I might have come to ‘dislike’ it is because I just haven’t got all the techniques and skills down yet and my classroom management isn’t the best (admittedly) . The demands of the teachers college program are also very high and they expect you to get classroom management in literally about 16 lessons. And for introverted people like me it’s hard to get out of that shell, and of course teaching comes so naturally for many people. It was all very intimidating and I started developing a negative attitude and thinking I just wasn’t good enough. Maybe it’s just a lack of confidence?

I will finish the program and see how I feel in 6 – 7 months when it’s finished.

thesparrow's avatar


things are going good!! Not fully there yet with classroom management but I am coming in more positive and more professional. As well, I talked to a teacher I met at a bar who teaches grade 7 and 8 and she LOVES IT (of course, elementary school teachers often like their jobs as opposed to high school teachers). It was just nice hearing a positive comment because all of the high school teachers I’ve met absolutely hate it.

Buttonstc's avatar

Even with it being Elementary, I still had very little idea of how to manage a classroom. It took me about half of that first year to begin to get it together.

But I was fortunate to have my classroom sandwiched between those of two very experienced teachers with around 20 years of experience. They were extremely friendly and helpful and really taught me a lot.

The one thing I learned above all else is this “Dont crack a smile till after Christmas.”

Obviously that’s not literal but it’s a shorthand way to remember this most important truth at the beginning of EACH new year.

Don’t be afraid to start out really strict and do whatever you need to do to establish discipline. You can always ease up and relax the rules as time goes on and they prove themselves worthy of more freedom and trust.

If you do it the oposite and start off super nice, they will walk all over you. Then after you realize that and start cracking down, it’s twice as difficult than if you’d been a hard-ass from the get go.

And backtracking later and cracking down unfortunately tends to breed resentment. That’s what happened with my very first class but none afterward because I always started out strict (in terms of what I expected from them regarding conduct, attitude and work ethic). I let them know that I was going to hold them to a high standard and expected their best efforts.

And I had occasion to remind them of that numerous times in the next couple of months as they realized it wasn’t just idle words. For the kids who had transferred to us from the public schools it was a real shock. I checked their homework each and every time and didn’t tolerate crappy attitudes or giving me lip.For some it was a major shock and contrast to their previous schools where they could get away with everything short of murder and work assignments were more like suggestions than requirements.

So the first couple of months were really difficult but the rest of the year was a breeze once order was established.

You can’t teach anything in the midst of chaos and that’s what happens if a teacher doesn’t set down ground rules.

But if you’re teaching college level, you have an advantage. They are all there voluntarily and paying for the privilege to boot (or at least their parents are).

As long as you make it clear that you expect assignments to be done on time and don’t tolerate any excess chit chat or distractions during class, then you have the ultimate power of the grading.

And even in High School, if they’re planning to go on to college, their grades are important to them.

Anyhow, just remember: Dont crack a smile till after Christmas. Start strict and ease up later; don’t do the reverse. You are not there to be their friend. You are not in a popularity contesy. You are their teacher. Don’t be afraid to act like one.

thesparrow's avatar

@Buttonstc —One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard.. I didn’t even get this from my B.Ed program coordinators or professors!

Buttonstc's avatar

I didn’t either.

But looking back, I realize that discipline is not a much favored concept in the US public school system hence it’s not really discussed not taught much.

The teachers who were on either side of me my first year were veterans of the educational system in the Carribean (Jamaica, Virgin Islands basically the British system) and they don’t play around there.

Plus a good portion of my students came from West Indian families who had emigrated to the US and they drummed it into their kid’s heads that: “You’re job is to go to school and learn. Youre not there to play. If I find out you’re in trouble at school, you’ll get double when you get home”

And those teachers had the same high expectations of the kids and I just kind of absorbed their attitude by osmosis. And it stood me in good stead no matter which school or grade level I taught at.

I can honestly say that I learned more about HOW to actually teach a class in that first year than I did in college.

College was great for lots of other basic stuff and theory but I became a successful teacher from what I absorbed from those old fashioned veteran teachers on either side of me.

In subsequent years I have encountered some teachers who were miserable in their jobs and most of the time it was due to out of control kids and chaos. They were just totally frustrated.

Every excellent teacher I’ve ever encountered had control of their class and had figured out how to motivate their kids.

And even tho I started out really strict, I repeatedly told these kids why. I taught primarily in inner city schools and I let them know that their parents paid the tuition at our school because they wanted to be sure they got the best education possible to give them a better future. They didn’t have to end up as the dropouts, addicts and dealers who frequented their neighborhoods.

They could have a better future than that but education was the key. And I was never going to stop pushing them to do their best.

And by midway through the year they began to see that and also take genuine pride in their achievements and realuze maybe hard work was worth it due to the results :)

But it wasn’t always so easy getting them to that point in the beginning :)

thesparrow's avatar

@Buttonstc That sounds really amazing! Congrats on your achievements as an educator; truly something to be proud of. I can only aspire to be that kind of teacher. I agree that most of the misery is because of a lack of control over the classroom. It’s difficult because most kids actually do not want to be in high school; they feel it is a chore and why are they forced to be there day in and day out.

It’s hard to give them reasons to learn sometimes when you have kids who don’t find the material at all useful or relevant. I am teaching religion (well, ‘student’ teaching it) and most of the kids really think it’s a joke. And the problem is the Catholic school system thinks its a joke too.. and religion is kind of a ‘hand-out’ course, where its handed mostly to gym or soc teachers because nobody is qualified to do it. And I mean it’d be justified if it was about religious indoctrination but it’s not and teachers have a lot of freedom to debate, think critically about religion… and most teachers are too lazy even to take that opportunity, resorting to teaching mere content like how many apostles were there and which part of the Bible is this verse from.

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