The Realities of a Young Teacher (Plus…4 steps to Success!) Share with new teacher friends!

The harsh reality, at least for me…

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Literacy Lesson (3rd grade)

If you are thinking about being a teacher, either currently in college, or about to go to college, my number one piece of advice is…don’t? Someone needs to let younger generations know of the reality, so here it is… long story short, it is extremely difficult to independently live if you are a new teacher. I was 100% positive that teaching was the career for me, and I love it, but I’m also extremely grateful that I’m married because I would otherwise be 27 and still living with my parents. The payroll system is corrupt and the likelihood of the system changing anytime soon is extremely slim. If teaching is your true ambition, then awesome, but plan on either marrying soon, living with your parents, or living with roommates. As a graduate of the year 2009 from the nation’s TOP teaching school (GO GREEN). Here’s my story, as well as some critical advice to those younger generations.

If I didn’t scare you off yet, or maybe you’re just starting out in the teaching world, here are four simple steps to success from my personal experience.  Please comment below with your teaching experiences!

Step one: Take chances.

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Teaching about the holidays in Japan

If there are opportunities to get up and move right after college, DO IT. The chances of opportunities like this later in life is unlikely. Before you settle down, plant your roots, and start your official career, get out and teach in another country. I was chosen to participate in the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Programme and was sent off to teach in rural Japan right after my internship. That experience could be a blog in itself, and even though it was difficult, it made me mentally stronger and open minded…and I’m appreciative of that. There are many different opportunities to go around the world, especially if you’re a teacher, I challenge you to take a day and investigate the options!

Step 2: Take what you can get, but try to stay focused on a purpose.

To graduate and find a job right away as a teacher is not impossible, but it’s unlikely. The reality is, you may be subbing for years before actually landing a job, but don’t sub in a school for too long. If you have been there a year and opportunities to hire you have been passed by administration, GET OUT OF THERE. Subbing after getting back from Japan allowed me to get experience in all different kinds of subject areas and grades which made me realize what I eventually wanted my end goal to be… A middle school science

teacher. The problem? I wasn’t science certified… The difficult job market allowed for me to look into additional certifications. It was busy, but I earned my science endorsement in just one semester and

Leopard Geckos in Class
Leopard Geckos in Class (5th Grade)

was then marketable with the endorsements of science, English, and geography. All three endorsements led to long-term and permanent positions. Point being…furthering your education to doable, and totally worth it.

Step 3: Be a PAIN in the @$$. 

The jobs will not come to you, some professions have recruiting companies that do the research and come to you with a job and a salary, but teaching is a whole new world. To get a job, you need to find a district you are interested in, and mail out your resumes with cover letters that are specific for their school. Do not address them “to who it may concern”. Once you’ve mailed out to all the districts, check every other day for job openings between the months of April

Student teaching Students
Student teaching Students (6th Grade)

and September. If you see a job opening, apply online, but then take the time to drive to the school AND central office and give them your resume in person, introduce yourself, make yourself known. Taking the time to do this is exhausting, but trust me, it got me a job and it will for you as well.

Step 4: Experience is Experience, so make the best of it!

In 5 consecutive years, I haven’t taught the same thing twice… My teaching career in 5 seconds goes like this.

3rd grade internship > English in Japan > long-term science sub > 5th grade charter school teacher > (got hired in the public schools) 6th grade Science, Sixth grade social studies, 8th grade academic intervention (yes, all in one year) > 7th grade science and social studies (currently teaching) > next year? something different… but hopefully full-time science.

It sucks to constantly put your heart and soul into creating, just to have it not be able to be used the next year, but everything I have done in the past has led to better opportunities and teaching

7th Grade Scientists
7th Grade Scientists

strategies.  Even though these jobs seem to have little in common, they have all built on each other, and will eventually lead to even greater opportunities.  It is difficult to be patient, I’ve definitely felt the frustration this year, but I make the best with what I’m given and have as much fun as I can.

Teachers please do this…

As a middle school teacher now, I make it a point to show CNN student news and every single opportunity to show the kids a new

Mt. Kaimon, Japan
Mt. Kaimon, Japan

kind of profession, I pause the news and address it.   Lack of exposure to all the diverse and engaging careers out there in the world was something that was extremely lacking when I was in school, probably the reason why we have had such a surplus in jobs like teaching, because it is what everyone knows and are familiar with.  These ten quick minutes once or twice throughout the week gets the wheels turning in the minds of our future generations.  It is so important to keep them open-minded, because we are preparing them for jobs that haven’t even been created yet!

Oh, and don’t forget to actually enjoy yourself in the free-time between the educational experiences 😉

View from my moped off the side of a mountain, Japan
View from my moped off the side of a mountain during a mini random road-trip, Japan
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