I am a teacher. That’s the profession I chose to pursue in college. I took a 15 year break between my first teaching career and my second. Lots changed in 15 years. These days kids show up to their first day of kindergarten knowing less, and the teachers are expected to teach them more. I have no idea how to do that most days. I’ve spent a full semester trying to get 17 kids to master the art of number recognition 0-20. Despite teaching the material every way possible only 5 can do it successfully. I did large group, peer groups, small groups, games, worksheets, manipulatives, and good ol’ memorization. Most of the kids just don’t seem to care if they get it. And now we’ve started adding. Quite a few of my students can figure out that if Amy gave Fernando 5 pieces of candy and Billy gave Fernando 7 pieces of candy he would have 12 pieces of candy all together, but they have no clue how to write a 12.
I also never encountered as many behavior issues 15 years ago as I do now. I feel like I spend the entire day disciplining kids. I’m sure much of that is my fault though. If I were more strict and structured the kids would probably respond better. I am the type of teacher that loves to go with the flow. The other day a dairy farmer brought a cow to our school. I heard it was happening a couple of days before the event, but since our lesson plans have to be done a week in advance there was nothing in my lesson about cows. Even so we all went out and listened to him talk about his cow. When we got back in the classroom I decided to veer from the regularly scheduled activity and talk about cows. We sat on the carpet and made a list of facts and opinions about cows. Afterwards they colored a picture of a cow similar to the one we had seen. On paper it sounds great. In real life it was like pulling teeth. I think only two kids actually gave me a fact about cows. Most of them didn’t seem to care that we had just heard that cows have 4 stomachs and that cows pee about 20 times a day. Both facts that 5 year olds should find fascinating! Instead I heard things like, “he’s touching my foot, she wrote on the carpet, I need a tissue, can I put my coat in the closet, when is lunch, I heard the principal walk by, can I go to the bathroom, he’s bothering me, etc., etc., etc. I also had the entire back row decide to lie down instead of sitting up paying attention. The kids just didn’t care. And they are that way with just about everything. Unbelievable to me.
Somedays I think about careers I might like to have other than teaching, because honestly, I can’t imagine doing this for the rest of my life. I don’t think I am very good at it. I come home worn out every day. My voice is taking a hit day after day and by Friday it is beyond strained. But more than that I come home every day feeling like I didn’t accomplish much of anything. I think I could handle being tired if I came home feeling fulfilled. Feeling like I was actually making a difference. And sure, somedays I know the kids learn new things. I can see that they are progressing, but I feel like I am killing myself in the process. That can’t be good.
But changing careers scares me. I need an income. I feel as though I need health care coverage. I know people get along without it, but I’ve always had it and not having it seems crazy. I need to have some sort of retirement plan since I am hoping to not have to work until I die. All of these things come naturally with a teaching job. And I automatically get holidays and summers off. Seems like teaching would be the perfect job if it wasn’t for the kids.
So anyone out there have any good career ideas for me? Seriously.