A Waste of Time?

After my last post about meeting with an academic advisor to discuss going back to school to become a credentialed teacher I received both supportive and discouraging emails and comments.  One person emailed me to say doing this would be a “waste of my time” and that comment was going around in my head when I awoke yesterday, still under the influence of the tail end of a three day migraine.  It was about 5 degrees outside and I wasn’t feeling particularly perky or motivated.  Of course I had to get up – the kids had to get off to school and I had to lug gallon jugs of hot water to the barn for the goats and rabbit.  But going back to bed afterwards was certainly an option!  I could just call and cancel.

The walk up to the barn in the crisp air woke me up and I decided that it would be worth going to hear about the program at least and less of a waste of time than crawling back under the covers.  So I took a quick shower to warm up, styled my choppy haircut with product, dabbed on a bit of make-up, and slipped into my black (interview) slacks and a black mock turtleneck sweater (.99 at the Goodwill store).  My only winter boots are barn boots so, shivering, I put on a pair of knee-high nylons and a pair of low heels and threw on a chic, but overly large rust colored wool coat that a friend had passed on to me- the extent of my nice cold weather clothing- and headed for town.  I felt attractive and professional and invigorated (even if my toes were cold)!

I found the School of Education and the parking garage, which thankfully was not too far from the building, and arrived just on the dot for my appointment.  The graduate advisor went over the two programs – Transition to Teaching and Community of Teachers – that were applicable to my situation and we discussed my qualifications and the admissions process.  My college GPA and Master’s degree allow me to bypass the entrance exams, making the process fairly straightforward.

As one of my teacher friends told me there is more of a demand for teachers in the fields of math and science than social studies, language arts or history.  Science teachers in fact are in such demand in Indiana that there are a number of scholarships available for students wishing to teach science.  This was good news to me – as was what the graduate advisor said “Science teachers can pick and choose where they will teach” – as science is exactly what I would like to teach.

So I’ve decided to take the initial (low cost) step – ordering transcripts which will be assessed to determine whether I have the appropriate coursework to become a science teacher.  Since my degree is in the social sciences field of Anthropology (Archaeology) and I’ve worked in the environmental science field for the past quarter century, I’m hoping I can become certified to teach Earth Sciences.  I may however, need to take additional coursework in science in order to be admitted to the program.  If this is the case I will re-evaluate my situation since that would add more time (it’s a 3 semester program that starts in summer and goes through next spring so I wouldn’t be job hunting until a year from this fall) unless I could take courses concurrently.

The other stumbling block is the cost, which is estimated at around $11,000 and would be more if I had to take science courses as well.  At this point I’ve ordered the transcripts and plan to talk with several of the professors involved in the two programs, asking them particularly about the success of prior graduates in obtaining teaching jobs, before moving forward.

When the meeting was over, I headed to Tractor Supply to pick up more hay and vaccine for the goats and then over to Pep Boys to buy a replacement bulb for my headlight.  Then I went home, changed back into my four layers of warm casual clothes, fixed my headlight and lugged more jugs of hot water to the goats.  And I did it with a little lighter feeling; a glimmer of optimism.  I don’t think I wasted my time.


This entry was posted in 2nd Career, back to school, Future, job search, Positive Thinking, teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Waste of Time?

  1. Kathee McCright says:

    I don’t know what the subbing situation is in Indiana, but last year, I started as a para-educator sub and found myself working quite a bit. Learned several things – first, I was much happier working with the lower grades; second, would not want to be “in charge” of a classroom; and third, that I rather enjoyed it. I’m now working four hours a day which suits me just fine in a full-time [every day] job at a local school. In Iowa, because I have a Masters, I could have taught middle school and high school after taking a three or four day course – only as a sub, however — but, I don’t want to be in charge!
    I’m in Cedar Rapids, and they are really hurting for substitute teachers at all levels. My brother does it, and he could be teaching every day. I would suggest that you go for it, especially if you want to teach math and science.
    As an aside, I searched for a middle school/high school math tutor for two years before I found one. She is VERY busy, and it has made all the difference in the world for my child. If you can do something like that [I couldn’t], talk with your high school math teachers. Good luck.

  2. Jeannette says:

    Having raised four children as a single parent, I always had to find ways to reinvent myself, otherwise I would not be able to support my family. Each time I took a class or learned a new skill it opened up doors in areas I would not have dreamed of. As I tell my daughters, think and work smarter not harder. Think about what you are doing and how this will effect your children and your life. As usual God will show the path if you are listening

  3. Marianna says:

    In our area people who sub seem to be the ones that move up to the regular teaching jobs. Don’t know how much you can take on, but if you can sub or tutor while you take classes…

    I know you are stuck in the “you have to have a job in order to get a job” place. I was there once too and very miserable. Best wishes.

  4. Richard Moore says:

    My wife taught high school English for four years straight out of college in the 1960s. In her early 50s she went back to get her Master’s in Special Ed, which was and is much in demand and taught for an additional 13 years, retiring recently. She spent over ten years in urban Arlington, VA schools and the last several in our home in rural Southwestern Virginia.

    Based upon what I’ve learned from observing, I would be encouraging about this path. Here the school systems seem to accept the “second career” folks, especially for science and math. As an aside, I think your experience as an active farmer could help you in a rural area. The science teachers around here are almost all part-time farmers and it helps them reach students (via real life examples, etc.) who are often from farm families.

    In my observation, the largest category of teachers often passed over are those with many years of teaching experience in common areas such as English, history and etc. The years of experience makes them much more expensive than the recent graduates and every dollar is critical for schools in this time of shrinking budgets.

    I think talking to some principals and teachers about the local scene will be very valuable. You can network at your PTA meetings with your kids.

    Finally, substitute teaching also can bring in some money and give you more control of your time. In some districts (although not in our poor, rural area) you can get benefits as a long-term sub. Around here it is not necessary to have completed teacher certification to be a sub.

    Good luck!

  5. Chris says:

    I’m going to write this comment without reading what others have said, so my apologies if it is redundant. First, if you think you’d like to be a teacher, I think this is a great plan. Schools are used to mothers who enter and leave the work force and having shown your dedication with classes and student teaching, your time out of the work force would be less held against you. Science and Math teachers are needed. My husband is a high school math teacher and even though he got laid off at one school during the worst of the economic meltdown, he’s always been able to work. Even tutoring is a pretty good way to pick up some extra cash. He loves teaching. Says he is never bored and loves working with kids at all skill levels.

    But, I’ve also known people who invested time and money into getting certified to teach but found in their first year that they hated it. Controlling a classroom is a combination of skill and experience. I don’t think I could do it and admire those who do. And the constant teaching reforms drive many people mad. What I would advise is that you do some due diligence here. Volunteer – or find some other way to spend time in classrooms to see how it goes for you. Ask if you can talk with some principles or curriculum specialists at your local schools to find out if they agree with the assessment that science and math teachers are in demand. And if you decide that this is for you, get certified in as many subjects and grade levels as you can to boost your chances of getting a job. My impression is that chemistry, physics, and higher math teachers are the most needed. But your area may have different needs.

    Best of luck to you and I hope that it works for you. I think it can be a great idea – if you’d like being a teacher.

  6. zelda says:

    I was hit by a drunk driver and after spending five years in a wheelchair, I realized that I was going to have to give up my job as an RN. I went back to school, first getting an additional bachelors, then an MA, and then PhD and I have to tell you that I don’t regret it at all. I was hired at my present job before I finished my dissertation and I love it. It pays very well and I also consult so I make enough money to support my husband and myself. I believe that if you do your research and enter the program with ambition and strategies to succeed, you will do just fine. Teaching is a job that requires a lot of work outside of the classroom but the benefits are well worth the burden of grading. I wish you success and hope you are able to get the teaching certificate and get back to work. BTW, there are tons of scholarships that I was eligible for and once at school, you probably could work in one of the writing centers or math centers as a tutor. If your state is like ours, once you have a MA, you automatically get paid 20 bucks an hour to tutor. Again, good luck and remember, you do what you have to do to get back in the rat race.

  7. Em says:

    I would make some appointments to talk to some principles at schools in your area. Find out what they are looking for and how you do it. I don’t trust anyone at ANY university. They are all just looking at their enrollment numbers. Here in Ohio you can teach one year without your license. Then you go get your teaching block over the next summer and take the praxis. You don’t need a grad degree to teach and the teaching block to get certified is only five class at undergrad tuition rates. One of the problems that you are going to face is that you have a masters and experience. Even though its not in teaching it still counts and that will automatically make you more expensive than a young teacher just out of undergrad. It really is best for you to explore by subbing and networking with some principles, teachers, and superintendents.

    • Em says:

      What about the Americops teaching program? I just went on Indiana’s school board licensing page and they do have emergency licenses as well as a bunch of stats on transition to teaching placements.

  8. Amanda says:

    Good luck with teaching! You would be great at it. Science is in high demand and when people say they can’t get teaching jobs they are also probably talking about at the easy schools with easy students.

    I know it is in the future, but when you go to do interviews give me a call. I used to work the interview process for Chicago Teaching Fellows and I could help you prep.

  9. Barb says:

    I am a 50 something who did go back to school 5 years ago for an ESL license. Oh yes, they are in short supply – I was told. Well, so far I have had 2 – 1 year jobs and 3 years of looking for another full time job. I finally have one but don’t know about next year. I love the job, but if I would have known that it would be so hard to find one, I don’t think I would have done it. It cost me 13K back in 06-07 and that was the cheapest program (in MN). Real tough to get any kind of teaching job here. Also I do believe my age (50s) worked against me. I know lots of teachers and they tell me that the 22 year olds get hired. From the looks of things, this is mostly true. So if you would be happy working as a sub, then go for it. Since I had subbed without the license, and then worked as a sub, I did feel a little cheated. You really have to know the market where you are. It helps to know people in the schools, although I had lots of “connections” none of them got me a job. Sorry, but I feel you need to make an informed decision.

  10. amanda says:

    Absolutely not a waste of time! I think that you would make an excellent teacher.

  11. Cranberry says:

    It’s never a waste of time to get more information. Congratulations on your decision to keep the appointment!

    I’m delighted for the glimmer of optimism you feel, and at the possibility of your landing yourself a scholarship. Just FYI, there are websites on the Internet that amalgamate scholarship info for students of every description, geographic location, field of study, and circumstance. I think one is simply “scholarships.com” but there are others.

    I’m pulling for you!

  12. Karen says:

    You go! I am so glad that you checked out that program. At the very least, it got you out of the house and talking with other people. It would have been good even if you weren’t interested in the program. To do nothing would have been a “waste of time”. Doing something gives you hope.
    I have been reading your blog almost since the beginning. I know how hard it is to hope, but you have to continue to do so. You have been very brave throughout this process and I am sure that you will be successful in your endeavors. Do not let anything or anyone throw dust on your hopes and dreams. You are not alone. Peace.

  13. hdware says:

    No, not a waste of time at all. A couple of friends of mine have done just what you’re contemplating in recent months and more power to ’em–the miles and dings they’ve racked up in previous careers (one a state civil servant who got bored an a comfortable dead-end post, the other a chronically underemployed J.D./geographer) should help them be better mentors to the students with whom they come in contact. They were worried about finding work, but both live adjacent to our middling-sized city in which there is a pretty large degree of teacher burnout. Will it hit them, too? Maybe–but those miles I mentioned earlier should help them keep perspective and get over the hurdles. Should work for you, too. Good luck–I’ll keep an occasional eye on this site.

  14. bogart says:

    Me either. I hope the transcripts arrive promptly and suggest this is a good path for you (and also of course that it proves to be one).

  15. Nancy says:

    My sister did a program like this, and in fact she’s still working off her commitment. Hers was a very specific program, and she was in the first class. They selected 27 candidates, and at the end each would have a master’s degree. The first year they were in a classroom at first, then started student teaching but attending class all day Thurs and Saturdays, and several special all day classes, retreats, summer school. Then they had to find a job in the school district, but they had to interview and be hired by the principal of the school. My sister had a hard time. Many of the city school principals are Hispanic, and they hired the spanish speaking teachers first. My sister likes teaching, but hates the school administrative set up, union (she’s not in it) and politics. She must serve her 5 years (they pay back her student loans that way) and then she wants to teach in private school. Lower pay there, but less hassle.

    But my sister had a good job before she did this ‘life change’ She had a lot of money saved, and she has a husband with health insurance. Her first year, she got a $1000/mo stipend for student teaching, but she had to buy books, pay for anything not covered by the student loan, and live. Her kids were in private school and did expensive activities. She could not have afforded to do this without her husband’s income.

    You need to see if you can qualify for grants or other support while you are in school because you won’t be able to work while a student or student teaching. Those programs might be there and I hope you find them.

  16. Julie says:

    A waste of time? I think not. There is lots of financial aid available and loan forgiveness if you go into certain fields/teaching areas. Even though you already have a Master, it’s worth researching the options. Research is still free 🙂 Who knows? You might come up with a different option. IU is a world class school (as a musician, I’m quite familiar with its School of Music).

    $11,000 sounds like a bargain to me. In Iowa, they’re still debating the whole “transition to teaching” thing. The current program is run by private and for profit schools. I’d be out a minimum of $44,000 for a M.A. in Teaching, just to get the state certification, even though I already have a Master of Music. Ten years after getting The Hood, I still don’t have a job. Luckily, my spouse makes enough to cover the bills, but I hate feeling “dependent” for everything except what I bring in playing gigs and teaching five students. Ten years out, I’ve managed, or more properly, my husband has managed to knock my student loan debt down by half. There’s slightly more to the story about how I got there, but it’s neither here nor there.

    You have to do what is best for you and your family. Waste of time? No, but even if it did turn out that way, how is investigating a relatively “sure thing” way to get qualified for a job any different than wasting paper filling out pointless applications, wasting gas driving to pointless interviews, and wasting time worrying about things over which you have little to no control. Education is always useful, and student loan proceeds can be used to cover living expenses as well as tuition and fees. Just my half-cent from the School of Hard Knocks 🙂

  17. Vesta says:

    Good for you! Hoping for lots of future good news!

  18. OneFamily says:

    That sounds promising! Be sure to check into financial aid for the cost of the tuition – I’m sure there is some available, especially with your non-existent income. Our (former) neighbor, with 3 kids, is attending college on financial aid and scholarships, her housing near campus is even paid for. My brother (with a mathematics and law degrees) went through that 2 semester program so he could be a math teacher. We live in a highly populated area and he has had no luck finding a teaching job for 2 or more years now. I’m not sure if it his age (50) or what. My bosses just out of college daughter got a job teaching 2nd grade right out of college 2 years ago. He has been able to keep pretty busy several days a week doing sub work the past 2 years, so that part is good.

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