Sunday, April 02, 2006

Meta-Analysis: Education Thoughts

I think this idea is fantastic! Students looking at teachers, not to sue them, but to improve them. I think it's helping students become critical thinkers, helping them take more responsibility for their own education, helping their authority figures become better at helping them, the students, and creating a positive environment for everyone. Congratulations.

Because I so often forget that I'm supposed to be a grown-up, I took a look at this little piece: jobs for new grads!

8. Teaching
This is a great job that almost guarantees you a position no matter where you live or move in the future. And the work can be very rewarding and can offer great retirement benefits. Continue your education to the masters or doctorate level and watch your pay grow!
Average Starting Salary: $29,016

The other eight exciting careers, according to this article, have average starting salaries of $38,000-$50,000.

Who in their right mind would go choose something that pays less? And more importantly, is anyone out there still innocent and naive to think that teaching is something all sparkly and mushy: You can save the world, one child at a time! Please.

Yes, your pay will grow as you earn degrees, but the gap between you and your 'real' professional peers will only widen as you get older.

At least you'll have a job, whether you deserve it or not.

Gee, I'm inspired! I'm gonna TEACH!

Does it say something about the NYC education world that I'm so embittered in my second year of teaching?

For a less sarcastic and more interesting take, here's one man's eloquent thoughts about the pitfalls of teaching. This result is extremely not surprising.

[Thanks, as always, to NYC Educator for the thought-provoking links!]

As I've said before, I still am not sure how I feel about teaching. I've never had any job that I could say, Yes, I love this and want to do it forever.

This year has been wonderful in many ways, mostly because I can contrast it with the nightmarish struggle that was last year. This year, I am better, my students are better, and I think (most of) my students and I are all pushing to improve ourselves as the year goes on. My administrators respect and appreciate what I do, and they support me in good times and bad. My colleagues and I get to (not very often) trade ideas and thoughts about making things better, easier, more fun, more intense, whatever.

But good lord, the politics. The gossip among the faculty, about the administration. The administration, with the mandates and directives. (For the record, I do know that they're getting most of that from the top-down and can't really help it. Also for the record, most of the directives in my school are fairly reasonable and I respect my administration for pushing and challenging the faculty.) The lack of sanctity in the building; there is nowhere to go for some peace and freaking quiet. The union posturing and threats to both sides: to the administration to follow or stop some rule, and to the faculty for complaining without filing grievances. The city officials who don't respect what we do. Hell, the PRESIDENT who thinks we're a bunch of automatons producing widgets instead of the next generation of thoughtful citizens. The parents who think their children don't do anything wrong. The children who think they can just sit there and goof off or stare into space and still think they should pass. The five MILLION things we are asked or required or want to do all at once, every day. The ONE copier we have that breaks down all the time and there's no support or money to fix.

It is exhausting. And quite honestly, I know people who have much worse situations.

After a professional development thing in the city the other day, I was worn out with all the rules and expectations and talking and posturing. I tiredly thought to myself: maybe it's not at all worth it to stay for a third year and deal with all this crap.

And really, what a shame that is. I'm no superstar teacher, but I am pretty good at what I do. I have the knowledge and excitement about my subject (more knowledge than some of my colleagues, and thus more I can impart to the students), and I have the drive to keep improving myself. Without any conceit, I can say with certainty that those are hallmarks of a good teacher.

I will be here for a third year. I have commitment and stubbornness to keep going. But I AM going to leave the city in the time shortly after that. In no way would I want a full career teaching in New York. Obviously, teaching in other places is no picnic, but at least there are resources, and more-with-it parents, and possibly better pay and lower cost-of-living.

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