A few weeks ago a former student of mine friended me on Facebook. She graduated from high school last year, and I had taught her in 7th and 8th grade. Her class was, well, a challenge. Amanda was such a hard worker, and I remember that I was constantly so proud of her work ethic. She was really quiet – the type that you fear goes unnoticed. But I always adored her. After her 8th grade year her 2 little sisters moved from our school to the local public school. I was sad I didn’t get to teach them, too. I was also sad because I always loved when the older siblings came back to visit, but with them gone, Amanda didn’t come back to visit. At the school, every year they hold a Baccalaureate Mass for all the kids graduating from high school that year. I went to see my former students and was so thrilled that Amanda was amongst them!
So last week she friended me and then we chatted on fb messenger for a bit. She’s going to community college and working. She told me she was thinking about becoming a teacher. Of course I swelled with pride! I told her to let me know if there was anything I could ever do to help her out. She told me she actually needed to interview a teacher, and would that be ok. So I’m wimping out on the #MTBOS30 challenge and using the interview as today’s post! If you have anything you think I should share with her, leave it in the comments and I will pass it on!
1 what colleges have you attended?
I attended Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. In the School of Education we had to have a double major. My majors were Elementary Ed and Math/Computer Science. That second major isn’t really what it sounds like, so I just usually say it was a math ed major. I stayed at BC for a 5th year program and I got a Masters of Education in Literacy. When I lived in Boston I was certified for Elementary and also as a Reading Specialist.
2 how long have you been teaching?
This is my 15th year of teaching! I am in my 4th school and have done various roles. I started out back in Boston teaching 5th grade for 3 years. When I moved back to CA, I first taught computers and math for 2 years, then back to 5th for one, then I split 5th and did Literature and Social Studies and then had 3 math groups, and finally Library (with 2 math groups). When I started at HT is when I started teaching only math and I’m in my 7th year of doing that.
3 how did you decide to become a teacher?
I don’t really know, to be honest. I guess in some ways it was just an expectation everyone had of me! I would always lead the other little sisters in activities during my brother’s baseball games. I was always kind of the “teacher’s pet,” too. I would always help my teachers with things like seating charts and keeping track of papers and stuff. Everyone always thought I would be a teacher, so I guess I just followed their expectations! I don’t know what I would do otherwise, though, so it fits!
4 how much education is required for teaching?
Because I went to school out of state and went about credentialing differently (not to mention a long time ago), you may want to check with someone else on this! I believe in CA after you have earned your BA you can spend a year in a credential program. After that you have to do BTSA, which you would do through your school district – it’s kind of a mentoring type thing, I guess. In some cases there are combined credential/ Masters programs and I think those take a little bit longer.
5 what are the major duties and responsibilities for an entry level person in the teaching industry?
Again, there may be better perspectives out there for you than mine, because I started off in Catholic school and always have been. Usually it’s a little different. But for all teachers, the major responsibilities include lesson planning and grading and communicating with parents. As a new teacher getting to know the standards and your curriculum is a huge challenge, especially if you are teaching a whole bunch of subjects!
6 what is the average salary range that can be expected in sac area?
You may want to look on-line if you are interested in public schools. Catholic schools are paid significantly less. My guess is a starting salary would be mid 30,000s.
7 what are the opportunities for promotion/advancement in this field?
Basically if you want to advance, you would typically go into administration. I don’t have any desire to be a principal. One thing that is of great interest to me these days is being an instructional coach. I would say that at this point I don’t necessarily have the confidence to pursue that kind of a position, but many of my friends have that kind of a role and I think eventually it would be a great fit for me.
8 what are the positive aspects of teaching?
Oh my gosh – there are so many! My favorite thing about teaching is the relationships I get to form with students. As you know, I typically was able to spend multiple years with the same kids, so I would get to know them really well and they would be part of my life for long after they were in my class! I also love the spark when the students really “get it.” There’s nothing better. I love when someone who has been struggling with something works super hard and they finally are able to make sense of something. It fills me with so much pride to be able to witness that hard work pay off!
9 what are the sources of frustration, disappointment, etc.?
It’s disappointing when you plan something that you think is great and the students don’t react like you would hope. It’s frustrating when students don’t listen. It’s frustrating to watch kids struggle if you are having trouble reaching them because all you want is for the kids to succeed.
10 what advice would you give me if I pursue a future in teaching?
Go for it! Put your heart into it. Join twitter (seriously – the best teacher friends I have I have made through twitter). Try different levels – I never wanted to teach middle school and I love it. Observe as many teachers as you can. Trust your voice and that you have important things to contribute. Laugh. Get to know your kiddos.