Transitioning from corporate wonk to school teacher?
August 24, 2007 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I have worked in human resources for 15 years (financial services and biotech industries) as a a manager/senior manager and am feeling a bit burnt on the office experience. I very much value the experience of providing counseling and training because I enjoy the process of problem solving with another person. Here's the question... I am 41 and considering going back to school, getting my teaching certificate and bailing out of corporate life. Has anyone else gone through the corporate office to school teacher transition? What was it like? What hadn't you anticipated?
posted by Mmothra to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(hi Mothra!)
posted by growabrain at 8:24 AM on August 24, 2007

Has anyone else gone through the corporate office to school teacher transition?

My Dad did this. After he retired from the military (he practiced law), he tried corporate law for a year and hated it. He already had his teaching certification in the state he lived in, so he jumped right into substitute teaching for a year, to get a feel for what age range he might want to teach (which you should consider doing). He decided that he preferred teaching middle schoolers (he felt they were the most "teachable"), and was able to find a job in a middle school in no time at all. That was over 5 years ago, and he's very happy. You should definitely go for it- worst thing that could happen is that you hate it, and if you do, there will always be jobs in human resources to go back to.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:43 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I once did substitute teaching, which was like 5% teaching and 95% babysitting. It was in public schools and I did all grades, kindergarten through high school. I had done tutoring for college students before. The difference between those two, which I hadn't anticipated, was the students' motivation. The college students I tutored wanted to learn (that's why they hired a tutor). The public school students usually had no interest in learning. Sometimes they cared about getting their assignments done ("Just tell me the answer" is something I heard a lot, and replying "But then you won't learn anything!" didn't convince these kids); other times, they didn't even care about that. Teaching them was very hard. Luckily that was only 5% of my job.

Of course, when you're the regular teacher seeing the same kids every day, there's a lot more you can do.
posted by Dec One at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2007

My Father also followed this route. He worked in the admissions and financial aid departments of trade and business schools, as well as in accounting and sales for corporations. Anyhow, he burnt out and got his teaching credentials, starting with substitute teaching and eventually moving on to his own classroom. He started in elementary and now teaches high school. It was hard at first financially, it was a definate pay cut, BUT now he's really quite happy. He has his summers (though he likes teraching summer school), and doesn't have to travel. More than that, he's just happier not pushing paper and dealing with the business world. I think the things he didnt' anticipate were the amount of troubled kids and clueless parents. Also, there is certainly an almost corporate hegemony to school districst administration. So I would say, have a little money saved, and be prepared to feel a little lost , especially once you make the change from dealing with people who are connected because of money/business and those who are connected through the concept of education.
posted by missmle at 10:50 AM on August 24, 2007

Have you considered counseling or coaching, instead of teaching? You might prefer working one-on-one to help people (students or adults) solve problems instead of trying to get a whole classroom to learn some required material.
posted by metahawk at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2007

One of my best friends left an upper level corporate job to return to school for a Masters in Counseling and is now having the time of her life working as an elementary public school counselor. She finds it emotionally, if not financially, rewarding and would never consider returning to the life of a corporate VP. Her business acumen has also served her well in this new environment.
posted by peace_love_hope at 4:50 PM on August 24, 2007

I did this! Well kind of. I do half-time consulting in my former field and half-time teaching skating at local park districts (which involved a considerable amount of education and a national certification program, but not actual college).

Couple of things that made this work.
--Really supportive family. Couldn't have done it if they hadn't agreed to be poor (we ended up with a 30% pay cut that lasted a couple of years while I got on my feet).
--Two of the freelance jobs waiting to be jumped into, so while I lost a lot of income, I didn't lose it all

What I didn't anticipate was how much of the corporate bullshit follows you around, because the problem is not the venue, it's human nature. However, you have so much more autonomy in a class situation than in an office that it's much easier to deal with the politics, ethics (or lack of them, sad to say), and other crap.

What I also didn't anticipate was the level of joy I feel at working with children every day (even though this was why I made the change). No matter what the adminstration throws at you, the children are such a constant source of renewing energy, love and joy that it cancels out all the crap.

I've made several other AskMe answers on this topic.
posted by nax at 7:56 PM on August 24, 2007

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