Day 28: Why Teach? WHo would be crazy enough to do that? #aprilblogaday

-->Prompt:  Would you encourage young people to consider the field as a profession?
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Every teacher has seen lists like this one in the HuffPost titled "21 Reasons To Quit Your Job And Become A Teacher" (2013) I, like many teachers here in NYC, am a career changer.  I started grad school in the fall of 2006 at the age of 29.  There were not any fancy incentives for me becoming a teacher.  I don't teach math or science and I am not a special education teacher.  I am a run of the mill English teacher.  What makes me a little different is that I am also a theatre teacher.  I am licensed in both subjects.  I also has a successful career as a theatre professional before moving to teaching. I didn't become a teacher because I couldn't DO what I intended to in my first career.  I became a teacher because I wanted to (and I have already established how selfish teaching is).  It was my evolution. 

I often tell my students is that one of my biggest priorities as their teacher is to make sure they know how to learn independently from me.  My best teachers gave me freedom to discover what I loved and the space to explore that passion.  While school is very different than it was when I was in school, this is still my goal.  I want my kids to leave my room as independent and confident thinkers, researchers and challengers of scholarship.  A sense of inquiry is essential to growth.  My students hopefully go on to college and careers confident and ready to take on anything they are presented with. 

Becoming a teacher--and working as one-- is an investment in both time and money.  I often joke with my kids that I have a MA from NYU instead of children.  In NY one must ultimately have at least a Masters degree to continue teaching. (You can start with a Bachelors degree.)  I also tell the kids though, that education is the best way to invest.  It can not be foreclosed upon. The debt has been worth it.  The journey is worth it.  

If you are not sure about teaching, don't start there.  Do what you think you want to do.  Try it.  See how it goes.  Then if you still want to teach, you will find your way.  

For my friends who like data, here are some numbers for you...

In NY State (2011-2012)

Total Teachers: 241,000 

Percent of teachers, by highest degree earned

Less than a Bachelors - 2.8%
Bachelors - 4.4%
Masters -  84.2%
Education specialist  or doctor's -  8.6%

Percent of teachers, by years of full-time teaching experience
Less than 3 - 5.3% 
3-9 years - 30.0%
10-20 years - 45.5% 
Over 20 - 19.1%

Average Class Size
Elementary 20.7
High School 25.2

Note: I have no fewer than 30 kids in each of the classes I teach.  The biggest is 34, the cap here in NYC.  I did teach in an alternative high school where my average class size was about 20.  That was ideal.

We need teachers.  We need strong, confident people of all backgrounds to teach and lead in schools.  It is just that simple.  Do it.


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