What else can you do with a teaching degree? Honestly, I NEVER wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t play “school” growing up or fantasize about standing in front of a classroom of students. In fact, it was a career choice I put in the ‘absolutely not’ column of my possible jobs when deciding in college. I happily decided to major in Kinesiology and became a fitness guru and expert post-college.
Fast forward a few years to a transitional time in my life. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I began coaching swim and substitute teaching. I started to enjoy my time in the classroom more and more. What in the world was happening…did I want to be a teacher? Had I missed my calling completely by always putting it in the “NO” column of my potential job lists? I was convinced I had made a huge life mistake, promptly when back to school to earn my Masters in Elementary Education and quickly started my teaching career in Kindergarten. At that point, I was blissfully happy. I made it! Finally, I found my place in the world! I was a teacher, I was loved and I was making a difference in the lives of all my students!
I’ve been in the classroom now for ten years, and I dread every. single. day. I was ready to quit teaching. I fight my alarm clock every morning, not wanting to get out of bed and face another day in what is now one of my least favorite places on the planet, my classroom. Year after year I have attended countless professional development courses, been trained on new and improved reading and math programs and learned every new way the county decides to test students. I was beginning to wonder what else I could do with my teaching degree.
After all that time and money, the county just changes their minds or goes in a new direction for the following year, forcing me and all the other teachers to start all over again with trainings. On top of the wasted time, learning has been made too streamlined for me.
What I loved about teaching when I first started was how imaginative and creative I could be with my lessons. Making thematic units and allowing for hands-on learning across the curriculum made the job of being a teacher fun. Now the standards are all about rigor and many of our lessons and plans are now scripted. I guess they want a robot in the classroom instead of a person.
Dealing with kids and parents
The cherry on top of the “I don’t want to teach anymore” cupcake are the kids and parents (and sometimes the administration). The behaviors of students have gotten out of control. The past few years I have had to tolerate students yelling at me, calling me names, throwing things at me and showing complete disrespect. Parents are at a loss for how to address these issues and typically place the blame with the teacher, not their child. While parents are not supporting the teachers, they are emailing and calling demanding to know how we are challenging their child who is way more advanced than his peers, or why their student isn’t learning at a faster rate. We are being questioned about every part of our job.
It isn’t right that we are not made to feel like experts in our field (which we all are, most of us have MASTER’S DEGREES)! We are not trusted to complete the basic functions of our jobs. We are subject to “observations” and evaluations at any time. Punished if the exact objective and curricular alignment isn’t posted in our classrooms. Or heaven forbid if we violate “dress code” and wear jeans! (Pardon me while I sit on the carpet, crisscross apple sauce with my students in a dress. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense). Student behaviors are getting worse, parents are defending their students, and administration is taking the side of the parents. Who is supporting the teachers? That’s right, no one, and that’s a big part of teachers’ burnouts.
A salary change
I would be remiss to not mention pay or salary increase. Although the pay itself is not one of the sole reasons I will be leaving teaching after this school year. Admittedly I do get paid relatively well where I live. However, the problem is a lack of growth.
When I look ahead ten years in my career at the current salary scale, my amount will not greatly increase. Most jobs offer performance-based bonuses and yearly raises. Teaching offers a “step” increase that is typically only about 500 dollars. That’s not enough to even make a real difference in a monthly paycheck. Certainly not enough to keep up with the ever-rising cost of living happening all over the country.
Bottom line, I’m miserable. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I drink too much wine. I’m an awful human to my family and friends most days because I’m EXHAUSTED. I found myself suffering from self-esteem due to impostor syndrome, which many other teachers actually suffer from as well. Now I just want to LIVE; to have flexibility in my life and career. I want to learn and grow and be challenged and pushed forward. Teaching just isn’t the job for me. It seems I had it right from the beginning putting this career in the “absolutely NO” column of my job list. That’s where it will be and stay from now on.
The Good News
New career, here I come! While I am still battling pros and cons of new jobs, I have narrowed down what I’d like to do. I, unlike some others, have time to decide and develop any skills I may lack. While I would love to leave mid-year, I am under contract and I don’t want to leave the county under such circumstances (Mama taught me not to burn bridges). I have done A LOT of research in the mean-time and think I have a good understanding of what I need to do. I want to stay in education and help students, just not in the classroom. This is likely a very popular choice for teachers leaving their classrooms behind. That’s because let’s be honest, we all got into this career because in some way, shape or form, we really like helping kids.
What is a curriculum designer?
The official job title I would like is “Curriculum Designer”. From what I have gathered, this title is sometimes used differently. Curriculum writer is often used to describe the same job functions and duties. Even sometimes it is referred to as an Education Coordinator. Although I think this might be a bit more of a managerial role beyond just the design/writing. This is another way that you can use your teaching degree.
The basic job duties and functions are as follows:
- Analyze school data (looking at test scores); look at any deficits schools may have
- Write new curricular standards (take the outdated objectives out and write new ones)
- Create teaching strategies and standards for teaching
- Outline and write new educational materials/lessons
You might be thinking, wow, I can do ALL those things! Well, that’s just it, you can! The best part is, they typically like to hire people with classroom experience. As teachers, we have seen what works in the classroom and what doesn’t. We know a lot about struggles some students have, and we often know how to address their needs. We are also curricular experts, after all, we have taught it all. Who better to give feedback and create new goals and objectives for students than teachers. We know what works better than anyone.
Where to work
The only other factor that must be decided, is whether to work for a school system/county, or perhaps for an educational company/non-profit. While both positions would be similar in that often you are working in just one subject area (you can really hone in on your expertise and area of interest), they might be different in the actual writing/delivery. When writing for a school system, it would likely be used as teacher resources for teaching. While working for an educational technology company, you would be writing curriculum and standards used to guide the programming.
The Ultimate Goal
My goal is to get hired by an educational technology company. One that provides resources and programs to teachers to be able to use in the classroom and at home. I have a knack for math, but my passion is in teaching language arts. This is especially to the younger kiddos (I’ve taught both Kindergarten and 1st grade). Elementary school years are very pivotal for students learning to read and building a strong foundation of phonics, phonemic awareness and vocabulary. Now that students (as young as K) are being tested in language arts on the computer, it is even more important they get some of their instruction digitally too!
One of the best parts of this particular career path is a lot of the work is done remotely. YES, we are talking WORKING FROM HOME. A concept completely foreign to teachers. If you’re anything like me, you love a day off. But, it requires you to work even harder at making sub plans. The idea of not having to drudge into work when you are deathly ill sounds utterly amazing. Not only that, but the flexibility and workload will allow for you to be able to have more time for family and fun, aka you actually get to LIVE your life! No more taking papers home to grade or having to complete report cards. Instead of going out to dinner with friends or instead of taking your kiddo to soccer practice!
Opportunity for Growth
Lastly, there is GROWTH here. In this position you have the opportunity for a real raise (yes, more money) and an opportunity for promotion. There are director positions that oversee and manage a group of curriculum writers and designers. So you can work hard, do well, and then move up the ladder! This concept is completely foreign to teachers because we are basically stuck. Doomed to do the same job over and over, year after year, with no real change in responsibility or pay.
Your career choice can actually utilize your background, experience and education. It is so important to know what else you can do with a teaching degree. It doesn’t all have to go to waste. In fact, it will help you be REALLY good at your new job. You will have your life and freedom back and be helping kids. Also you will use your creativity again and be a much happier person in a new career. And you CAN do it, and you are certainly not alone in this journey. You DESERVE to be happy at work!
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