Where do I go from here? Teacher Edition
March 4, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

What's my next professional step? I recently earned my teaching license, but I couldn't get a teaching job. I have had to take a step backwards and am now working as an administrative assistant again, which I hate. Do I keep trying to find the elusive teaching job or leave the dream behind?

I earned my teaching certification and surprise, surprise, was not able to find a full time teaching gig this year. I didn't want to eke out a living subbing, so I took a job as an admin assistant, which was the field I was trying to get away from by getting my teaching license. I've been at my job for 5 months, and I hate it more than ever. I hate sitting at a desk, in a cube, staring at a computer all day. Plus, I have a crazy and belittling supervisor. In a panic, I applied to another administrative assistant job and was offered the position. But I'm torn as to whether I should take it, or hold out for a teaching position this upcoming school year. On one hand, this new admin job pays $6,000 more than I'm currently making, and I really want to flee my crazy boss. On the other hand, I am fairly sure that I'll continue to feel dissatisfied and depressed as an administrative assistant again. I'm also hesitant about teaching, though, as teaching jobs are almost impossible to get in my city, and my student teaching experience was actually pretty negative and exhausting. Sometimes I think that I should abandon teaching altogether and perhaps taking the pre-requisites for occupational therapy school. Oh, and I'm 36 and single, so I feel the pressure to have a stable job to support myself. Any advice from teachers and others would be much appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you? There's teaching jobs but you might have to move.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:52 PM on March 4, 2013

There's no reason to stay with a crazy and belittling supervisor. Taking the new admin job just to get the hell away from her seems perfectly reasonable to me, and it's easy to make a decision about your career path from a stable place than from crazytown.
posted by bunderful at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

Take the new job and keep looking for a teaching job. Check with Teach Away. The are a Canadian firm that recruits for Abu Dhabi. You can teach, get housing paid for and make a ton of dough while having an adventure.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Memail me if you like, I have more info that you might find useful.
posted by bunderful at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2013

I'm sorry you are going through this. The world needs good teachers who want to teach!

It definitely sounds like your best immediate choice is to switch jobs to the new, higher-paying admin job. You can continue to apply and look for teaching jobs while working there. It's good advice not to leave a job before you have another one lined up, so if you switch jobs you still have your income, get away from your crazy boss, and can continue looking for teaching jobs.

Would you consider working for Teach for America, possibly, to get your foot in the door? Or moonlighting for a tutoring company? Or checking every day for long-term sub positions, such as maternity leave? Or teaching summer school? Our district is not hiring regular education teachers, but they are always DESPERATE for teachers to teach summer school, and it pays higher, too.

I can also TOTALLY understand not wanting to invest more time and money in teaching when you haven't seen the fruits of your labor, but if you are interested in getting certified to teach special education, or in reading, that could be VERY valuable in getting a job, depending on your district. But, if you would hate teaching reading or special ed, then that obviously is not the right route for you.

Forgive me if you've already done this, but do you have your resume on file for all of the local districts that you would be willing to work for/commute to? You sound really determined and like you have already done stuff like this. But just in case, you can write a cover letter and send your resume to districts asking them to keep your resume on file in case of future openings. I did that for jobs in my hometown before I decided to stay in my current city, and did eventually hear back from them.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:12 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you say you don't want to sub, but a lot of our teachers come from subs that are known in the building. Actually, I'd say over half of our new teachers this year were hired out of the sub pool.
posted by aetg at 6:16 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

School won't start until August, so even if you got your dream teaching job, you'd need something from now till then, especially if you don't want to sub. I'd take the new job and job hunt like crazy. Some disciplines aren't hiring, but there may be quite a few teachers retiring soon, so it's worth looking.
It's hard to know, without a location, but where I am, many of the school jobs are listed with the state department of education, but many of the suburban districts have their own listings and applications. Make sure you're looking at all the school districts you'd be willing to work for.
Good luck!
posted by ceramicblue at 6:20 PM on March 4, 2013

You may just have to suck it up and sub. I know. It sucks. I've been there.

Many teachers-to-be in college try to pick where they want to teach eventually and do their student teaching at those schools. They have a few months to make an impression on administration and administration has opportunities to observe them.

This is what subbing affords you. Pick one or two school districts and start subbing for them. If you are good they will call you back often (which will eventually be reliable subbing and steadier income) and you can work your way in. Administration will have a chance to get to know you, all the secretaries and other teachers will as well. This method worked for me.

It sucks at first, but you have to jump in and not only get out there to get seen, but get some experience too. People will see your determination and you won't struggle financially for long, eventually you'll get a position.

Good luck to you!
posted by NoraCharles at 6:21 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I teach, and job openings peak after local budgets pass, which where I am (NJ) is in April. Not sure how other states do this, but it's something to think about if you're not already.

It sounds like you'd be better off in the higher paid administrative assistant position, though.

Also, I can vouch that subbing can be a stepping stone to a full time position, especially long-term, maternity or medical leave subbing.
posted by alphanerd at 6:32 PM on March 4, 2013

I have friends who are teachers in three provinces (Canada) and they all started as subs. I don't think there's any other way, unless you go to the far North. For the most part, they didn't have to "eke out" a living, though. My friend J, for example, works for a couple of the school districts around Vancouver, and even from her first year was working 3-4 days a week. She hasn't gotten a full time permanent position, yet, largely because she's had to mat leaves herself in there, but the only way to get any kind of seniority is to go the mat leave route. Her sister and brother-in-law are both teachers with permanent positions who started the same way.

However! In your last paragraph there you say you didn't even enjoy teaching as a student teacher. You also don't like being an admin assistant. In your shoes, I would take the higher paying admin job without the crappy boss, then try to get on with a school board for the fall and sub as much as you can. That'll give you an idea of whether you even like it at all. Surely you need to figure that out before you can make any real decisions.
posted by looli at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed that subbing is the best way into a job, and as NoraCharles suggests, is a great way to find out what the local schools are *really* like. I don't know what it's like in Canada, but in California, you won't see desperate job postings until August & September when returning teachers decide to retire last-minute or to chuck it in and do something else. (I got my first teaching gig three days before school started; I know plenty who got hired AFTER the year started.)
posted by smirkette at 6:51 PM on March 4, 2013

If you have an interest in working with children with special needs, there are a lot of ways to make money outside of the school system, from working with an established company to heading up your own business (in which case, maybe, you could get further faster by partnering with someone with more experience, money or connections).

Somehow, there are huge numbers of people willing and still able to pay for private tutors with a background in formal pedagogy. (You have no idea how many ordinary tutoring jobs are closed to people without a teaching qualification and license in my area.) Expert 'nannies' (with training in early childhood development) out there making a good living.

Organizations specializing in extra-curricular math and science support (either offering CPD for teachers in schools, or delivering directly to students after school) also have a need for qualified teachers. I've seen formal partnerships with schools

Other non-school options include corporate training and curriculum development.
posted by nelljie at 7:57 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

ESL abroad can be a mixed bag, but I moved to South Korea four years ago to get away from a shit-tastic private school job and haven't looked back. There have been previous AskMe's regarding the jump.
posted by bardic at 1:31 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you were positive you really wanted to get a teaching position then I'd say with certainty that you should absolutely quit your position and start working as a substitute.

First (as I'm sure you're aware), this time of year isn't hiring season for teachers. Serious interviewing and job offers happen during the summer. So it's unlikely you will get a full-time position now.

But once you're in a school's pipeline as a substitute, your chances of getting hired by that school skyrocket. If you're a good sub and a known quantity to the admins, you'll most likely be considered for a teaching position when something opens up.

However, it seems like you didn't enjoy your student teaching experience. I completely get how it's an exhausting thing to do, but you should be aware that working full-time as a really good teacher can also be exhausting.

Wonderful and exciting, but most definitely exhausting.

I've always felt that the best teachers are born to be teachers. They just delight in the exhaustion and creativity and challenges that come with the work.

For others, it's kind of a sucky job.

You mention an interest in OT. Can you intern or shadow a therapist before you commit to that program?

And if you're on the fence about teaching, then I wouldn't stick with it. It will suck you dry.
posted by kinetic at 3:48 AM on March 5, 2013

I wish I had substantive suggestions, but I want to tell you that you are not alone here and it is likely not through any inadequacy on your part at all.

I have been a substitute teacher in the Seattle area since 2005. Twice, I have been Hired (with a capital H). Twice, something in HR completely outside my control took the job away from me. I have repeatedly busted my ass on long-term sub assignments. I am good, I am respected, I am trusted, I am widely requested as a sub... and after almost 8 years at this, there is still no realistic outlook for me to get my own classroom.

My sister--also a very sharp and competent individual--got her teaching credential in LA a couple years ago. She's been subbing ever since. She's not doing nearly as well for herself as I am in Seattle, because there are more subs available and so they get paid less.

This is a SHITTY job market. Anyone who claims there is a shortage of teachers simply doesn't understand the realities of the field.

Again, I wish I had real suggestions for you -- but at the very least, I wanted to chime in to say not to let people guilt-trip you into beating your head against a wall. All the talk in the world about dedication and sunshine and hope will NOT create more job opportunities. Make your decisions based on the cold and hard math of economics.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:36 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you are interested in working with younger children, presumably you could check into working at a private preschool. You could also look into getting special certifications like autism, Montessori, etc.
posted by Dansaman at 9:42 AM on March 5, 2013

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