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GrammarGranny GrammarGranny is offline
 
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GrammarGranny
 
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Discouraged mid-life career-changer
Old 11-11-2014, 05:37 PM
 
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Hi, all.

I'm going to admit it: I'm discouraged.

I'm a 54-year-old woman who has spent the past 30-some years being a reporter/editor, teaching college writing (usually part time), and, last but certainly not least, raising three children. Until my mother passed away in September, I was also one of her primary caregivers. I'm also the grandmother of 18-month-old twins!

I started seeking secondary ed certification in English 2 1/2 years ago, although I'd considered doing that years earlier. For a long time, I thought perhaps I'd finally work into teaching full time at a college or university in our area, but that just didn't seem to be panning out for me, even though I was usually able to adjunct pretty steadily. I also decided against going for a Ph.D. because of my personal situation (see above; I couldn't move) and because I knew there were already plenty of out-of-work Ph.D.'s trying to teach English! Plus, I remembered some of the inspiring high school teachers I'd had years ago, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could be one of them and make a difference in teens' lives. I also liked and still like the idea that high school English teachers get to teach a variety of writing and literature classes. I've thought about working with at-risk teens and eventually going on to teach reading, even, for reasons too complicated to go into here.

So far, so good. I've done well in my classes and am ready to student-teach. I'm subbing right now, and that's going pretty well, too, although it's sometimes a crazy experience.

The problem is just that I feel so ALONE. While I have had a supportive academic adviser and a few supportive teachers, basically I believe that the education department where I'm getting certified heavily favors the younger preservice teachers. In classes, I often feel out of place, and sometimes I've even wondered whether one of my current teachers wishes I weren't there. I know some of my classmates feel uncomfortable around me. Today, maybe just because I was so tired from working, I started to cry a little because I saw these two young men snickering whenever I said something (although it's true they might have been snickering about something else entirely).

I feel proud of myself for going back to school, but I'm not so sure that anyone besides my advisor really cares or even "gets" how hard it has been to make a change.

I feel alone when I sub, too. Faculty and staff are cordial, but of course I'm not really forming any relationships as a sub here and there (I sub at various schools). Teachers say hi when I walk into the faculty workroom/lounge, but then I'm pretty much left alone. Last week, I made the mistake of subbing for a math teacher. Actually, the day went all right, but when I sat down for lunch and had to admit (when prompted) that I was an English teacher, you could have heard a pin drop. And then no one seemed to want to talk to me at all! Ouch.

Do you think this is because of my age or because I'm a sub? Even though I look younger than my years, is it likely that I'll be snubbed as a new faculty member at a school because of my age? I worry about this. I don't want to get into a new career and not have a "community." It's one of the things I hope to gain from being part of a school.

Thanks.


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Old 11-11-2014, 07:29 PM
 
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It's probably because you're a sub and they don't know you. I think you're probably also self-conscious about your age. Some schools are more "friendly" than others, and I try to talk to teachers at lunch, and teachers aides, custodians, the office people, etc. I say hi to kids in the hallway or at lunch (maybe give a fist bump) if I've subbed for them before and they know me. The more you're in a school, the more people will know you and you won't be this stranger that they don't know what to say to you.
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Old 11-13-2014, 10:57 AM
 
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I agree with the previous poster. It's not you. I subbed for many years and some schools were really friendly whereas some were almost hostile. I would pick one or two schools you like and try to spend time getting known there. It's hard to spend every day as a stranger. I always preferred to eat lunch alone in the classroom. I would just bring a sandwich. Anyway, on one occasion, a classroom aide who was really nice invited me to eat lunch with the teachers. I did and was never treated so poorly. The aide introduced me and then I was prompted ignored. I even asked a question and there was an pause and then the aide answered. There was one really rude teacher who was mad that I was in her seat. Now though, I understand. Our lunch is our only time to vent. When a stranger is there, no one can really talk. When a sub joins our lunch now, I am friendly, but I do find it exhausting to have to make small talk. Our schedules and workloads are overwhelming so there is not much left over for pleasantries. I also discovered that staff was nicer to me when I was a sub. Try being a new teacher!

Also, some days I am exhausted. We have a team member who is getting trained for some admin. position. Basically, he is out constantly. There are a stream of subs in and out. I do am and pm duties and do not have common planning with him so there is little time to even introduce myself. The times that I do, I end up "helping" and leaving my own class unattended. In addition, I usually am not much help as I don't know what they are doing, etc.

Teaching can be a lonely profession. It's taken me years to form the group of friends I have now. We don't get many chances to get to talk to adults. We have had older teachers hired. However, in the last few years, due to the economy, very few people have been hired at all. I think you need to keep doing what you are doing. Stay positive. Teaching is hard at any age. Subbing is especially difficult. I really don't think it is your age. It takes time to be a part of some communities. Although my current school is tougher, I've worked at other schools where they were very nice and welcoming from day one. Best of luck!
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Returning to school
Old 12-15-2014, 03:43 PM
 
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I also returned to school after a different career. My graduate school expereince was just fine. I enjoyed my classes, and I don't recall any difficulies with other students. My student teaching expereince, however, wasn't so great as I recall my cooperating teachers were both much young than I was and they were both too controlling to allow me any actual teaching opportunities. I never really understood why there was the undercurrent of animosity, but in the end I didn't let it get me down.

I have since worked in several school and I have made friends with teachers who are both younger and older that I. In the end, be yourself and you will eventually find those people who have similar interests and attitudes.

Trust me, a feeling of "community" will depend on so many factors, and your age and the age of your coworkers really won't be the most important.

Good luck and stay positive.
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