You’ve always thought about teaching. You have a career right now that’s, well, fine, but teaching has always been in the back of your mind. The appeal of teaching is not hard to imagine: teaching makes a difference in kids’ lives. Sounds cliche? It’s not.  

But it’s natural to worry about what such a career change can mean for you and your family. It can seem unrealistic or risky. If you want to quit your job to pursue teaching, but you’re afraid of the unknowns, here are a few pieces of advice.

Acknowledge That Your Current Job Doesn’t Bring You Joy

Although American workers are happier than they have been in years, many still struggle to find joy and meaning in work. It’s not uncommon to begin a career (or a second or third) and realize a few years later that it’s just not the kind of work that will sustain you over time. Although making a change can seem daunting and scary, the scarier choice is staying in a job that doesn’t bring you happiness.

Find Out What Jobs Are Available in Your Area

One of the biggest fears of career changers is that they’ll spend a year learning to teach and won’t find a job in the spring. It’s a good idea to start researching now what sort of teaching jobs are being advertised in your area. SchoolSpring.com is the place to find out about job postings. Almost every school posts job openings here, and you can receive email alerts straight to your inbox. You can even start the process today by uploading your resume and other job search documents so that you’ll be ready to apply when the right job presents itself.

Your Life and Career Experiences are a Value-Add

Principals tell us all the time that they want teachers who bring rich life and career experience to the classroom. The goal of teaching isn’t to help kids be good at school-- it’s to help kids succeed in the real-world, and your work in that real world informs your teaching and interactions with your students. Have you travelled? Had a career in the field in which you want to teach? Started your own business? Raised your own children? It’s a boon to schools when teachers have had experiences outside the microcosm of education.

Considering a career change naturally produces anxiety. However, with support and information, it’s doable, and possibly even advisable (see above section about joy). But don’t take our word for it. Drop us a line and we can put you in touch with other career changes who took the teaching plunge. Let us know what questions you have about this important decision, and we’re happy to respond.

Commentary by Kristen Downey

Kristen Downey is UVEI’s Associate Director for Teacher Education.  Her other blogs can be found at:

http://uvei.edu/blog/332-plan-with-the-end-in-mind
http://uvei.edu/blog/324-why-we-forget-and-why-it-matters-to-teachers
http://uvei.edu/blog/333-get-that-job
http://uvei.edu/blog/345-inspired-teaching-5-reasons-we-belong-in-the-classroom

You can follow Kristen on Twitter @UVEIconnect

In case you haven’t heard, teaching is INSPIRING, despite what national headlines about education might have you believe. There aren’t too many jobs out there that allow you to do intellectually stimulating work, impact young people (sometimes in life-changing ways) and make a decent living. If you need more convincing, here are five reasons why teaching is inspiring:

 

  1. It's cliché, but you really do make a difference

You won’t feel it at the end of every day, and you may not even feel it at the end of every week, but ask any working teacher, and they’ll tell you that, yeah, teachers do make a difference in kids’ lives. No, you won’t stand on a desk, recite poetry, and voila! Your students love poetry! Teachers have more influence than just academic enrichment. You will know, in subtle ways, that you’ve had an impact. You’ll know because some kids linger in your room just a little longer than other students to chat with you at your desk. You’ll know because your room is the de facto lunchroom. You’ll know because they ask for hugs every morning upon arrival. You’ll know because when they write something really cool, they smile while reading your comments. And you’ll know because, occasionally, they’ll tell you so.

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If you are thinking about becoming a teacher there must be something special inside of you that desires to share, inspire, give and empower.  You must be wondering how you can make a difference in a community, in the life of a youth or see discover more about yourself.  If this holds true, then becoming a teacher, an educator, an advisor and a role model, is the path for you.

Whether you are naive about the challenges of teaching or are nervous and overwhelmed, the Upper Valley Educators Institute will be there to guide and support your journey.  Along the way you will be tested by rigorous academic performance, challenged by teaching in the classroom and overwhelmed when learning with your cohort.  By the end, however, you will emerge with a teaching identity of your own that is harnessed by a preparedness to go out into the world and not only be the teacher you envisioned yourself to be, but have the necessary toolkit to do so.    

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