General Question

sparrowfeed's avatar

What to do with a teaching degree and an M.A?

Asked by sparrowfeed (744points) May 30th, 2013

I recently graduated from Teachers’ College, and before that I did a 2-year MA program in which I had real teaching experience. The problem now is teaching is almost impossible to get into unless you have certain qualifications (at least where I am.. they’re on over-supply and are only looking for specific teachables). I’m looking at private schools as an alternative option to working with a school board. Can anyone give me any other career suggestions?

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21 Answers

dxs's avatar

What type of teaching degree did you get? Any specific subject or schooling level? Are you in the US? I’m pretty sure most teachers in the US have a pretty high demand, but definitely mathematics and science teachers. For most private schools I know, you just need a degree and it doesn’t matter what it is in. Try going to your high school Alma Mater. They may be accommodating.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Not all teaching occurs in traditional schools. Besides private schools, try looking at prisons or rehab centers. They might need someone who can provide both a general education and a more specific curriculum related to the circumstances of their residents. You could look at other social services as well. Most are in need of people who can educate the people under their care.

Alternatively, you could look for corporate jobs as an instructional coordinator or a trainer. The coordinator job is more administrative and has to do with organizing the methods and resources used for training new hires. The trainer job is more interactive and has to do with directly teaching new hires how to do their jobs. In either case, general knowledge of educational techniques comes in handy.

Don’t be intimidated by a lack of familiarity with the details of these areas. Employers will teach you the specific content they want you to relay to your students or subordinates. Just be honest in the interview about what skills you do have and how, with professional training, they would be an asset to the program you wish to join.

gailcalled's avatar

If you are interested in teaching an an independent day school (also called a private school) the umbrella organization is The National Association of Independent Schools (

Teaching in one would be a terrific experience.

Here are more than 12 pages of jobs available, at some of the most interesting and challenging secondary schools in the US.

My ex- was the headmaster of a Quaker Day School in Philadelphia, I was on staff there, and my kids went through the system. It was an extraordinary experience for all of us. The faculty, by and large, was better than those at most colleges and universities/

Bellatrix's avatar

Check into emigrating to Australia. I’m sure we’re short of good teachers! Worth looking in to.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If you are single, you are in a perfect position to do a year in China as an English teacher. They are offering $2,000/mo with living expenses, probably more for someone with a master’s. I think that would be an invaluable experience so enriching it would heavily influence your career and your self for the rest of your life. It can also lead to career branching opportunities. Lots of opportunities for English Teachers in China. Just be sure to always investigate the agencies you favor and get opinions from former in-country teachers. Then always make sure to have a lawyer review your contract before you sign. It is well worth it.

sparrowfeed's avatar

@SavoirFaire Really great advice.. wasn’t expecting some of that so that was definitely useful. Thanks! I am actually in Canada (Toronto, specifically). I am also looking to maybe set up my own business one day, like a tutoring business or something like that. I know I have the credentials; in this economy it’s just hard to put them to use.

@dxs Lol probably wouldn’t be a teacher if I was good at math or science…

@gailcalled I’m in Canada but we have lots of independent and private schools here, too.

gailcalled's avatar

@sparrowfeed: I am sure that there is a similar associaion; here it does all the official accreditation so no independent school can afford not to be a member.

Ooh, looky; Canadian Accredited Independent
Schools. Ontario has more than any other province.

“Ontario has the most independent schools in Canada…Ridley College, Havergal College, Crescent School, St. Andrew’s College, Columbia International College, The York School and Ashbury College.” Source

It used to be called SEAL; Standards of Excellence and Learning (until 2011)

What are your subjects? Do you enjoy kids? There is also the administrative ladder in Independent day schools; deans, assistant heads, head masters, admissions and development, business manager, even plant manager.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The only chance I had to use my degree was in teaching an Adult HS Diploma Completion program. Check that angle, and, as @Savvfair said, check the prisons. Every other job I’ve had had nothing to do with teaching, although the fact that I am a college graduate looked good on my resume.

sparrowfeed's avatar

@gailcalled Thanks for that advice! Ya, ON has a lot. I’m hoping to find something in Toronto or thereabouts (can travel, too, but i can’t live outside of Toronto because my fiancee bought a condo we’re moving into). The institution is actually called CIS or CAIS, Canadian Independent Schools. Pay is very good. They have a fair in January where they come and you can actually talk to principals. I think if by Jan I don’t get anything I will give that a look. I know some people who got in that way.

I like kids and I like teaching, but admin work definitely doesn’t scare me nor am I adverse to the idea. Getting an MA I probably did have something like that in mind for my future. I’m also considering someday setting up my own business.

@Dutchess_III Actually hadn’t thought of that… but brilliant idea.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The jail was my favorite job EVER.

sparrowfeed's avatar

I don’t think I’d go to a jail…..

Bellatrix's avatar

People who are incarcerated need education. I have quite a few in courses I convene.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@sparrowfeed Like @Bellatrix said, it can be a great help. I recently met a delightful woman who runs a church populated entirely by addicts and convicts. She encourages her congregation to pursue whatever learning they can because it has been her experience that religion changes people’s attitudes, but education is what changes their prospects. Prison might seem like an intimidating atmosphere, and I’m sure @Dutchess_III could tell you all about its pitfalls. But teaching a population that is often very much in need of education while simultaneously having very restricted access to it is a noble profession. I’m not saying you should make it your top choice. Just don’t rule it out.

Bellatrix's avatar

Please don’t rule it out. As @SavoirFaire said and I agree, it might not be your first choice but don’t dismiss it if the opportunity is there and you can’t find something else you really want to do at that time.

For sure it would be a hard job and I agree with speaking to @Dutchess_III should you find a vacancy and decide to try it.

I have worked with a number of people in prison and have come into contact with them after they’re released. I’ve also had to work with a range of Education Officers. Some are downright unhelpful and why they’re in that job I cannot imagine. At the other end of the scale are people who will go out of their way to help their students succeed. I’ve spoken to people who have contacted me after they’re released because they are continuing their degree and they’ve told me about the difference those bad and good officers make to their ability to study.

I never ask what people have done. That’s not my business. I treat them like any other student but perhaps one with a severe disability that needs a bit more support. It’s a really nice feeling when you hear about someone in that situation finishing their degree or continuing to study out of prison and some of the people I’ve come across have been very able and were achieving top grades.

Anyway, it’s an option!

sparrowfeed's avatar

@bellatrix and @SavoirFaire : that sounds really amazing! I think I’ll give it a shot. I’m also looking at ESL schools (English as Second Language) in toronto; the pay isn’t as good but the kids are very willing to learn and appreciate their teachers.

Bellatrix's avatar

Talk to @Dutchess_III and get the downside too. I can’t believe you are having to ask this question. Seriously, unless things have changed radically recently – we do need good teachers here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was thrown into jail, almost literally! I DIDN’T WANNA GO! But the gal who taught there quit unexpectedly and I was instructed to take her place. I had the same fears anyone would have. On top of that, within my first two weeks I learned that our county jail had contracted with the DOC (Kansas Department of Corrections) to house inmates from around the state…guys who were in actual prisons, not just “jail.” Yeah, I was scared at first.

But guess what….my DOC students became my absolute favorite. Most of them were pretty damn smart but almost didn’t have a chance because of how they were raised. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles on drugs, constantly moving, living in substandard housing all of their lives. Their first assignment was to write an autobiography of themselves. I almost couldn’t read many of them.One of my students had some serious burn scars on his torso. He’d been set on fire at the age of 5 because he’s black. That kind of shit. They’ve been stabbed, shot, beaten….how they came out of it all with such wonderful attitudes I don’t know. I had so much respect for them, and treated them with the dignity that every human deserves (to the frustration of one particular guard who considered them substandard human beings and treated them as such.)

Most of them were in jail for drugs (they aren’t going to put you in with violent offenders, btw.) When I saw them they were clean and drug free, and some of the most amazing people on earth. They became my family in so many ways, and they would have defended ME to the death.

I only had one fight break out…and that was by the CCJ (local county students) students, who often wound up in our “outside” classes after they were released. The CCJ didn’t have the maturity that the DOC students had, nor the wisdom. They were SQUIRRELS! And I hated it when they said, “Oh, I know your son, Chris! We used to….”
“Shut up!” :)

There is no downside. I have this thing about “saving” lost boys, and that fit my niche perfectly.

I miss them so very much.

sparrowfeed's avatar

Ya, I really wouldn’t mind it if it was just drugs.. what I was worried about were the violent offenders (rapists, murderers, etc…) but I’m happy to hear that’s not the case. I need to figure out how to apply for those positions, though. It doesn’t seem like there is any specific website to do it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, no worries. They won’t leave you in a room with violent offenders.

LOL! I went to a “security” course with the guards once. They instructors talked about how the classroom was situated so close to the processing desk/check in/ monitoring, what have you, and how easy it would be for my students to…. storm the desk and take over. My Favorite Guard, Linda , said, “No worries. We just lock Val in with them!”

The instructor looked at me with big eyes and I just grinned.

The only time it wasn’t cool was when that fight (almost) erupted and the door was locked. I wouldn’t have been hurt (my students would have seen to that) but the guy instigating it all tried to leave, on my command, but couldn’t cause the door was locked.

I finally got to a point where I could move to the door, which had a window in in it, and made eye contact with my favorite guard…..She saw it in my eyes and expression instantly and you’ve never seen anyone move as fast as she did. If it had been a guy, I don’t think he would have picked it up like My Favorite Guard did.

sparrowfeed's avatar

@Dutchess_III Lol, dude, you’ve clearly had some adventures.

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