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nerdteacher nerdteacher is offline
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Hello all - new and have some questions (long post)
Old 01-11-2012, 01:58 PM
 
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Greetings everyone,

I just want to say first that I am NOT a student teacher yet. I am considering going back to school for a teaching degree in either Math or Geosciences (5-12). Right now, I am a failing graphic designer who can't find freelance work or any jobs in my area (Tacoma, WA). So I need to go back to school to do something more viable.

I am very nervous about this whole journey, though. I've often thought of becoming a teacher, but now that I'm faced with the decision, I'm not sure I'm cut out for it. I mean, I greatly value education and knowledge, but do I have the right disposition to teach kids? I don't have any kids of my own, so I worry that I might not know how to relate to them.

I have so many questions about the demonstration teaching portion of the degree, but I haven't been able to find any real answers anywhere, so I thought I'd post here.

What, exactly, is involved? Right now, I am semi-disabled due to health/weight issues. I have a painful lower back and I'm concerned that there will be a lot of standing/walking during this portion of the degree. I'm an online student, so the student teaching part is the only time I'll actually be interacting with students or anyone else.

I am seeing a doctor soon in order to try to get these health issues under control and I know the student teaching portion won't happen for at least a year and a half, but it's something I need to think seriously about before diving into this program.

I'm also having a hard time deciding on math or geoscience. Everyone from the time I was in high school told me I should become a math teacher because of my uncanny ability to grasp the concepts. However, grasping them is very different from teaching them. I was never able to teach concepts to other people back then or in college. People say "oh, they'll teach you that in your teaching program" and I want to ensure that that's actually the case. I know there is a mathematics pedagogy course, but one course doesn't seem to be enough.

I've also been searching for information about what people actually learn in a teaching program. How does one *learn* to teach? What do courses typically cover? What is the student teaching portion like? Do you actually teach the class yourself or do you simply observe the teacher? Do you have to make up your own lesson plans or do you follow the host teacher's plans?

It's pretty overwhelming, so I'm hoping to find some answers to my questions here.

Thank you very much in advance.


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Old 01-11-2012, 02:32 PM
 
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You are smart to consider all those questions before you spend all your time and money on a teaching credential.

Quote:
but do I have the right disposition to teach kids?
I suggest you get into the trenches and see what teachers deal with day in and day out. Can you volunteer in different classrooms? Does your state allow people with BAs to substitute teach? Do you have teacher friends who would allow you to sit in and observe?

Quote:
I have so many questions about the demonstration teaching portion of the degree,
The old model of "sage on the stage" lecturing from the front that you may have grown up with has given way to a lot more student-centered teaching. This requires more physical activity on the teacher's part, as the teacher must walk around and observe students working together on problems or projects. Behavior management also requires a teacher move around the classroom and have close proximity to those students that need more support in that area.

Quote:
I was never able to teach concepts to other people back then or in college.
You are correct that grasping concepts is different than teaching them. I personally experienced brilliant science professors in college who could not teach me the concepts because they never had any problems learning them. They could not understand why I was struggling.
I do believe that if you truly want to teach something, you can do it. It is a matter of learning how to present it to students so they can grasp it.

Quote:
People say "oh, they'll teach you that in your teaching program" and I want to ensure that that's actually the case.
Sad to say, most courses are so general that you will have to learn how to teach after you leave a teaching program. In elementary school, student teachers are expected to observe the cooperating teacher for a period, after which they gradually start teaching short periods of the day, and eventually all day by themselves. Middle and high schools are different, and most of my friends pretty much were thrown to the lions and expected to teach without any experience and with a mentor teacher five doors down the hall.
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:49 PM
 
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Yikes! Regarding being thrown to the lions. I really hope that's not the case when I go to teach. I was told that part of my supervised teaching practicum was just observation at first, then slowly transitioning into teaching as you described. I only had one student teacher when *I* was in school and it was for band, so not really that interactive beyond telling us what to play. The regular teacher would stay in his office during class, but was there in case the student teacher had questions.

When I started asking my enrollment advisor all this stuff, he told me "most people never even ask these questions. They just say 'hey, I want to teach' and throw themselves into the program." That's just so hard to believe! I firmly believe that as a teacher, it will be my responsibility to provide a quality education to my students. I believe in mutual respect and utilizing multiple methods of teaching in order to get across to all learners, not just one style of learner. I love the idea of hands-on activities and I guess that's one of the reasons I prefer teaching science over math. My math courses were always pretty dry. The teacher would explain a concept, write on the blackboard and then we spent the rest of the time doing our work and asking questions if we got stuck on something.

Science was always much more interactive with experiments and theories and ideas. That is what gets my fire going - the questions and formulation of ideas. I loved doing it as a kid (and still do) and I LOVE when others do it as well. I don't believe in just telling kids something and having them memorize a textbook. Understanding and comprehension are extremely important to me because, in my opinion, that's what enables them to make leaps in logical thinking and forming their own ideas about things. That is what leads people to be great thinkers and to branch out beyond that specific subject and apply those ideas to other things in their lives.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:30 PM
 
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Quote:
but do I have the right disposition to teach kids?
Get involved with kids. Coach a sport, baby-sit, tutor, help with an activity (Girl Scouts, etc.), volunteer in a classroom or school, etc. Yes, these are different from teaching, but you will be working with kids and will have to interact with them, discipline them, etc.

Quote:
What, exactly, is involved? Right now, I am semi-disabled due to health/weight issues. I have a painful lower back and I'm concerned that there will be a lot of standing/walking during this portion of the degree.
Yes, there is a lot of standing/walking involved in student teaching and teaching. You are good to see a doctor and try to get this under control before hand. Please know, too, though, that you should let your school of education know about this, as they might be able to find a really understanding cooperating teacher who understands your healthy problems and will make accommodations for you.

Quote:
I'm also having a hard time deciding on math or geoscience. Everyone from the time I was in high school told me I should become a math teacher because of my uncanny ability to grasp the concepts. However, grasping them is very different from teaching them. I was never able to teach concepts to other people back then or in college. People say "oh, they'll teach you that in your teaching program" and I want to ensure that that's actually the case. I know there is a mathematics pedagogy course, but one course doesn't seem to be enough.
Based on what you said, it seems like geoscience would be the way to go, but of course I do not know you. Yes, you will learn pedagogy and methods in school, but really it is a "gift" in my opinion to be able to explain things so other people understand.

Quote:
've also been searching for information about what people actually learn in a teaching program. How does one *learn* to teach? What do courses typically cover?
It will depend on your school/state. However, courses will include development, psychology, assessment, special education, methods courses, technology, etc. You will study theorists in education, psychology, and development. You will discuss activities to teach, what a good lesson includes, practice writing lesson plans, learn how to integrate technology, learn different instructional strategies, etc.

Quote:
What is the student teaching portion like? Do you actually teach the class yourself or do you simply observe the teacher? Do you have to make up your own lesson plans or do you follow the host teacher's plans?
In most cases, you will teach. My program required 2 weeks of full time teaching. We started off observing, then added a subject a week until we were full time, then taught full time for 2 weeks.However, my cooperating teaching had me start the first day, and I was full time by the middle of the second week...I remained full time until my last week when I observed around the school. Lesson planning depends on your cooperating teachers. My cooperating teachers had the lessons/activities/materials created, but I still had to put everything into the proper format of a lesson, organize everything, make sure I felt comfortable, etc. Some times I did have to do things all from scratch. It is a lot of work, but guess what? Teaching is a lot of work!
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Have you thought...
Old 01-13-2012, 06:51 AM
 
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about volunteering in the classrooms? If you have a BA, you can sub in WA. I don't know if you want to take that on with the health issues yet though. I would think you could go to a local school principle, explain you are thinking of going into the education field and would like to observe in a couple of classrooms. It is a good idea to know what you are heading into. Perhaps you could even interview the principle, ask what the job market in your specific area looks like now.

Be aware though, the teaching field is pretty hard to get into at this point in WA. I have friends in your area that can't even get on the sub list because so many teachers have been RIFed in the last few years. I've been subbing for three years now. I'm still hopeful to get my own classroom, but sub pay is not supporting my family.


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Good that you are thinking hard about it.
Old 01-13-2012, 04:08 PM
 
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In my district our Superintendent of School doesn't allow anymore student teachers from University of Phoenix or strictly online schools. The reason that the first time they are ever in the classroom is student teaching. It was also difficult for them to coordinate with some field supervisors with the school. It is very difficult to find a teaching position right now. Make sure you have a tough hide because middle and high school kids can be brutal. One good thing is there is such a push for science and math teachers.
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:01 AM
 
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Its good that you are looking into other options. I too am a Graphic Designer who decided to go into teaching. I decided this not because I was failing at Graphic Design, but because I had more of a passion to teach than design. In any case, you stated:

"So I need to go back to school to do something more viable."

I am not sure teaching is a more viable option. Look at the job search boards on this site. So many of us are having a hard time finding jobs. I finished school December 2010 for teaching. It is now January 2012 and I just landed my first Long-Term Sub job. I have applied to 100s of jobs just to get to this point.

You also stated, "but do I have the right disposition to teach kids?"

I would try doing some volunteer work, tutoring, or babysitting like others stated. If you aren't sure you really are cut out for teaching, DO NOT register for classes until you are. I feel like this is one of the reason's us passionate teachers are fighting so hard for jobs. People decide to become teachers because they think its "safe" or want summer vacations off. They believe that they will find a job and be in the system until they retire. Yes, I am a bit bitter in the sense that I see people who don't have the passion for teaching become teachers while I struggle to find something, anything.

You also wanted to know about the teaching classes. When I was in school all my classes were based on how to teach kids. For example, intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and which is better when dealing with kids. Or Child psychology classes. We also took classes that covered each area of teaching, Language Arts, Math/Science, and Social Studies. It gave us an idea of what students would learn and we would make up "mock" lesson plans. In student teaching, we came up with each and every lesson plan. The host or cooperating teacher was there as a guide to help us with the planning and teaching process.

Think of the pro's and con's of why you would want to teach. Is it really something you could see yourself doing? Look at the jobs that are available in your area. Some places, from what I hear, are laying off hundreds of teachers making it even more difficult to find a job.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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you are asking yourself good questions. It is a good profession, but only if you know exactly what you are getting into. You also need the stamina of a horse. I don't anymore. That's why I'm getting out after 15 years.
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