social worker vs. elementary school teacher
November 22, 2012 8:34 AM Subscribe
How would you compare a career in social work with elementary school teaching? Given that underlying values overlap so much, how might you decide which would spark more passion, happiness, and success? (Not that any career is perfect.)
posted by elephantsvanish to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have been aspiring to be a social worker for the last half year or so. I really enjoy working in a supportive interpersonal context, learning about people's needs, and being an advocate. That all said, I also enjoy teaching and more intellectual/learning exploration. The path I envisioned for myself is direct service practitioner now, professor/researcher much later on. This jives well with me, even though I'm a little apprehensive of being tied to an office context forever.
Over the last little while, I've started to work with kids (I coordinate a youth literacy program in an urban library) kind of for the first time. I'm the youngest in my immediate and extended family and the "kid question" has always loomed - would I get them? Would they get me? I've always been told I would be great with little ones because my energy is really kid friendly. Well, it turns out I really do enjoy kids, and not just in a you're-amusing way. I think they are curious littl people with so much to offer, and the idea of helping them become passionate about learning is exciting to me. I also like the idea of encouraging wellness and self respect in the classroom, as opposed to always catching up with folks already in some kind of social service system - but both are needed!
I've read a lot about social work and teaching, talked to folks in both fields, and still find myself hung up. I think I am more deeply drawn to teaching, in a sense. I know that I come alive in leadership/performance roles, but that the more I am distant from that, the more daunting it seems. In general, I'm afraid of being a mediocre teacher and not supporting the kiddos enough. I am not naturally an orderer of others, and fear I won't be able to get things going in the classroom. I am fine putting great effort into the craft of teaching, but I don't want it to be a foregone conclusion, you know?
Any insight would be very welcome! Thank you.