Here are my comments to blog post by Shaun Johnson, who is an assistant professor of elementary education at Towson University [close to where I went to high school]. The title to his blog post, with an embedded link follow. It’s a short read so check it out. My comments exceeded the 250 word length limit by more than a factor of two, so I made them in three separate submissions, which got a little scrambled in the comment approval and posting process. So here it is as originally written.
I recently transitioned from industry, after 25 years in engineering, product management and business development roles, into a second career as a teacher. I am now in my first year teaching full-time. And it is the most challenging job I have ever had – bar none. I will also admit that before immersing myself into education, I had little to no idea what it truly entailed.
Like many of us, my only insight into teaching was my perspective as a student. And for high school, those perspectives became memories starting 30 years ago. Even when my wife started teaching last decade, I did not appreciate all the time she spent preparing lessons, creating tests, grading assignments, etc. It was not until I “walked a mile” in a teacher’s shoes that I understood. And it is not what many of you may think. It is not a cush job. If you truly care about being a teacher, you spend the majority of your waking hours the first year just trying to stay one step ahead of the next day’s lessons or assessments. And you spend almost as much time outside the classroom each day preparing, reviewing, creating, assessing, and reflecting, than you do inside. Boy, did I have an incorrect idea of what teaching entailed!
Oh, and on the financial side, I now make 25% of what I made my last year in industry – about what I made in 1990, not adjusting for inflation. I knew this would be the case, so I am not complaining. However, I find it absurd that anyone feels justified in lambasting teachers as “overpaid.” These folks seem to have an axe to grind for some reason; I hope they follow Shaun’s advice and try to spend ONE DAY teaching in a public classroom so they might rethink the basis for their self-righteous indignation, which seems to fuel their rhetoric. And if they make it for one day, God bless them. I hope they have enough gumption to try for two, or more.
BTW, I LOVE what I do. It may be physically and emotionally demanding much of the time, and financially questionable (there is a huge, negative financial ROI for my “investment” in an MAEd and teaching credential), but it is a tremendously rewarding career spiritually, especially when you see the positive influence you make on students. I believe our nation needs more folks like myself to become a teacher. At the same time, I believe only those who are driven with passion for the job will survive their first week, much less year, on the job. It is that demanding.
So, good on you, Shaun for calling out your friend. I was mistaken when I sat outside of the ring, believing a teacher’s job could not be that challenging. Well, I know better now. And I would do the same thing all over again. That’s how much I care about my job as a teacher.