April 27, 2006 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Just got fired from my teaching gig... need directions to somewhere cool.

I graduated college last year with a poli sci degree, just spent a year teaching social studies at my old high school and love(d) it. I found out yesterday they won't be renewing my contract due to pretty strong philosophical differences I have with the administration.

I don't know what to do or where to go now. I'm very open to teaching high school again and the Pacific Northwest or Australia/New Zealand are on my mind... it seems like a great chance to get out my hometown. I want to be somewhere relatively urban (in a bike-able and cultural way) yet laid back and open to mavericks and free-thinkers. Somewhere where trends aren't so deeply imbedded into the culture and where someone can just kinda walk in and fit in pretty quickly. San Francisco, Eugene, and Portland are high on my domestic list.

I was thinking of continuing with my summer travel plans by buying a Greyhound pass then hopping around the Pacific Northwest dropping in resumes...

I've got awesome letters of recogmendation from the other teachers and head of the department... Any ideas on what I should do? Where should I go? How to get a job across the oceans or country? What's the first step in getting out of the seas of ambiguity?

This is a very open-ended thread... just suggestions for someone with no other skills than writing, thinking about things, knowing about things, and getting things done when motivated, and taking pictures of garbage cans.
posted by trinarian to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ever think about going back to complete a graduate degree? A BA in Poly. Sci. by itself is very limiting. A masters in Public Policy, a PhD in Poly Sci, a masters in Public Administration, among some other related degrees can make you a much more competitive and desirable candidate while affording you the ability to help teach college classes as a TA. Or, of course, law school.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:10 PM on April 27, 2006

Public education in America needs more teachers like you. I'd strongly encourage you to try and find another teaching gig at a school where you and the administration are a better fit.

There are kids out there who need you. Please be there for them.
posted by anastasiav at 1:21 PM on April 27, 2006

Response by poster: I've thought of going back to school, and I intend to... one day. I've honestly learned more in the past year of teaching than I did any year besides my freshman or sophomore year of college. I do want to teach college one day, but not yet. I'm leaning towards sociology...
posted by trinarian at 1:24 PM on April 27, 2006

I actually just got through reading the article called "The Rise of the Creative Class" that I found on a little while back. It lists a bunch of cities that are supposed to be similar to the kind you seem to be looking for. Maybe that can help you find some direction.

My bachelor's was in Political Science and I got a Masters in Public Administration. I don't know what I'm going to do with it career-wise, but it was great just for the learning experience.
posted by lagreen at 1:24 PM on April 27, 2006

Wellington is probably NZ's most liberal city. But bicycles are rather useless there unless you have calves of steel.
posted by dydecker at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2006

This will defeat you.
posted by dydecker at 1:43 PM on April 27, 2006

More science-y than political sci, but Careers at Science World.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2006

Just think about going down those hills, Mr. That-Glass-Is-Half-Empty.
posted by pullayup at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2006

Well if you want to stay with teaching and try to find a place that matches your philosophy (now that you have a chance to define it with real life experience), I would suggest finding a job placement soon.

Last year I used a placement service to find a teaching job. They provided me with a list of schools that met my criteria (like you, I picked particular cities) - I read the descriptions and only but in a formal application for schools that matched my interest. I was hired very quickly. I then spent part of my summer on a road trip moving to the new location, which may fit in with your bus trip idea for the summer. If you want to use the placement service (you don't pay, the school does, it is for private schools -Carney Sandoe and associates The placement service also listed some schools that were overseas (like the UK), I did not look into other countries so I do not know if they offer them or not

Also, if you are truly open and willing to go anywhere, I would also suggest something like the Peace Corps. They do have teaching positions - I had a friend that worked in Papua New Guinea, its close to Australia. There are more job possibilities with teaching by the way since you sound open to doing anything.

Another alternative although it takes guts, just start travelling overseas. Aim for countries that hire ESL teachers. I knew a few other Peace Corps volunteers who travelled to Thailand, when they ran out of money they applied to teach and they were hired on grounds that they spoke fluent english and worked overseas before.

Oh yeah - I don't know what schools offer these positions but something else that may be a good fit and match your interests. Some schools offer courses in bike mechanics, etc., and gives students hands on experience. That may match your interests of working with the young and teaching.
posted by Wolfster at 3:53 PM on April 27, 2006

Howabout something different and cool like teaching English in a foreign country? Japan, Korea, China, etc. are constantly looking for teachers and as someone qualified to teach, you actually could get a nicer job and paid more than the usual applicant. I've been doing it for nearly a year now (graduated with a degree in Biology - not a teacher) and love it.
Some places to get started: and (for Korea) (for Japan) (for a bunch of Asian countries)
etc. etc. There is a huge world out there where people are dying to know this language. If you are more curious about what I'm doing, email in the profile
posted by shokod at 6:46 PM on April 27, 2006

I must recommend that you thoroughly investigate any place like Papua New Guinea before going there.

Maybe you should focus on finding 'liberal' areas, where school administrations/culture would be more tolerant of you. Maybe somewhere like Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC. Take a look at the US News High School rankings and cross reference that with a best places to live rankings list.
posted by matkline at 7:46 PM on April 27, 2006

Public schools are a great stable and well-paying career field if you can just find a place and stay put long enough to get tenure.

Doesn't look like you did that, though. So you have a problem.

Most public schools practically refuse to hire anyone with experience, because they have to pay more, according to the union contracts.

Likewise, they'd rather hire young women than young men because they're more likely to get pregnant and quit before their salary gets too big from experience.

Also, what do you coach? That's the first question they'll ask you at many, many schools if you walk in there with a poli sci degree.

You may already know all this stuff, but it should definitely be kept in mind if you're looking at another public school position.

Teaching in a foreign country, a private or charter school, or going on in education to teach college or do whatever else (depending on the degree) seem like better options to me.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:53 AM on April 28, 2006

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