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Being a Teacher

Teachers Changing Careers

Becoming a Teacher

From teaching to Museum Education

March 2008

I am looking for jobs that I can take my elementary school teacher skills and art background - and would love to work in museum education. Does anyone have information on how I might find a job in this area? Please note post below.. Lauren, if you are still out there, can you relay your info on this area? Thanks - Valerie

Have you ever considered working in museum education? We can always use people with classroom experience and a good working knowledge of kids' developmental and educational needs at different ages. Museums have all different kinds of focuses (foci?), so you should have no problem finding one that meets your interest, be it art, science, history, environmental education, zoos, or children's museums, and we have tons of all of them in the Bay Area. If you're interested in pursuing this, I'd be happy to talk with you. Also, there's an organization called Cultural Connections which sponsors periodic get-togethers of local museum educators; the next one is on April 14 at the Headlands in Marin. You can get information on their website, www.cultural- connections.org (yes, the hyphen is part of the URL). If you want to take another route, you could consider educational research. I know someone who went from the classroom to WestEd a number of years ago and has been very happy. Good luck with your decision. Lauren

I too went from teaching to musuems. It is great work and you are already used to the low pay! I suggest looking on the websites of the musuems where you would like to work. But don't be too narrow. I was an Anthro major and I work in a science musuem so look at all types of musuems. Also look at the websites of musuem associations like those listed below. They all have ''job banks''. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about what musuem work is like. Feel free to email me. Good Luck!
www.childrensmuseums.org
www.aam-us.org - American Association of Musuems
www.westmuse.org - Western Musuem Association
www.calmuseums.org - California Associations of Musuems
www.astc.org - Association of Science and Technology Centers
Sue

Leaving banking to become a teacher

March 2008

I'm thinking of changing careers and becoming a teacher. I've always thought of teaching and then for whatever reason went into banking (mostly for security). Now I'm a SAHM and have thought more and more about becoming a teacher. I have a BS, I'd love to hear from any others that have made this change. I've been to the cal teach website, but would love to hear real life experiences regarding the blended programs, whether getting a masters is a good deal, and specific recs on the different schools availalbe in the area...I'm thinking of elementary school, but not totally decided. ready for a career change


Hi there, What is making you want to quit your current job? Is it not fulfilling? Is it not allowing you to be creative? Do you want a longer summer vacation? If any of the above, it is possible that you might find teaching more rewarding. POSSIBLE, not probable, given the extreme pendulum swing towards scripted curriculum and teaching to standardized tests.

If you do not feel respected or supported in your current job; if you feel frustrated by the constraints placed on your desire to make a difference;if you feel that your professional judgment is often second-guessed; if you want more freedom-- then DO NOT become a teacher, at least not a teacher in a public school.

Of course there are probably plenty of public schools in which the teachers are respected (though society at large will not respect you if you are an elementary school teacher), allowed to use their professional judgment, recognized for their hard work and ingenuity, and supported by administration and families. This had not been my experience in three public schools over the course of ten years. On the contrary, my experience has been frustrating, demoralizing, and discouraging, and the increasing pressure to perform on standardized tests only makes things worse.

If you want to do something good for the world, consider using your skills in another way. As a teacher you will find that your hands are too often tied by bureaucracy and you are made responsible not for the lessons you teach(which you actually could control)but for factors beyond your scope (such as whether the students in your class ate breakfast/went to bed at a reasonable hour/are getting the counseling they need to deal with their troubled home lives). And when you find this other career path, do let me know what it is! --Frustrated, dedicated elementary school teacher


I'd recommend looking into the BATTI program (ba-tti.org)-- where you work as a paid assistant at a private school while getting your credential. Takes longer than the fast track programs, but you get a much more comprehensive experience and more support (lots of new teachers quit bec. they haven't had enough time practice teaching before they are our on their own!) e bay educator
I write books about degrees and credentials, and get a lot of feedback from readers. Some of the most positive has been about the online teacher credentialing program of Rio Salado College in Arizona. All classes online. They arrange local student teaching anywhere in the world. Good for licensing in nearly every state. Not wildly expensive. Friendly helpful people. www.maricopa.edu/academic/teachered/RioSalado.html John
Think long and hard about this. It's so much work for so little pay and eventually that can wear you down. Certainly, don't do what I did and go to Stanford for a Masters and Credential b/c it is way too expensive (40K/year thereabouts). Sorry to sound so sinical...teaching can be rewarding and fulfilling but just make sure you're in it for the right reasons. Living in the Bay Area in the current market has made me very money oriented and I feel stuck b/c I am a teacher with a huge loan, despite some state forgiveness programs. Definitely go for the young kids b/c I think you can have more of an impact there. I know a lot of people who have gone through both Berkeley and Mills programs and all have had great things to say about them. good luck. Wish I felt better about what I do.
You need really good training. But first, get yourself into an inner city elementary school classroom as a volunteer and see how you like it. After several visits, if you're happy, then apply to a program. There are lots of them and if you want, you can take classes while teaching. Of course that means you'll be thrown to the wolves which is not a great idea. Better to get yourself into a more traditional credential program where you get to observe first. See if there are classes that teach you interventions for typical classroom situations i.e. hungry kids, abused kids, violent kids, etc. That's what you'll need if you're going to make it as a teacher in the 21st century. Curriculum comes second and if that's all the program addresses, it's the wrong program. You're going to be the parent, psychologist, social worker, etc. so your training will be very important. Teaching with all its demands is a calling, not a career. Anon
bacwtt.org This is the program I am doing, its designed with people who already have a full life in mind. I recommend attending an information evening. Feel free to contact me directly, I am also a graduate of the waldorf school system. Lyssa

Career Advice for preschool teacher

Jan 2008

I am a credentialed preschool teacher with an AA degree. I have worked for the same wonderful preschool for 7 years and love my job. However, I am realizing that financially, being a preschool teacher is difficult. The poor pay-scale of the child care field is becoming an issue as my partner and I are raising our own family and making ends meet in the Bay Area on a preschool teacher's salary is very stressful (my partner also works, but it would help our situation greatly if my salary were more than 30K per year). I am wondering if I should go back to school (this will be financially difficult for my family, but could be worth it if I will make more money with a BS or BA). Or, perhaps there is a career counselor who would know how to transition from being a preschool teacher to something fulfilling that pays more (or is this impossible with only an AA degree)? Has anyone out there made such a transition? Any suggestions are appreciated. Possible Career Switcher


I am a former preschool teacher. I loved my work, but was also not making enough money. For my birthday a few years ago, my mother paid for career counseling with Toni Littlestone, who is in the Albany/Berkeley area. I was so confused and conflicted, I really needed coaching, advice, and help, so I went to see Toni and worked out a new life plan. We started with assessment, and I learned so much. One thing I learned is that I am somewhat a physical type of person, and someone who likes to help people. I like to go on hikes, do yoga, and work in my garden. Moving around with the preschool kids worked well for me, and jobs in an office sounded like torture. I know my choice would not be for everyone, but I decided to re-train as an aesthetician and hair stylist. At first, I had value judgments about that, but in the career counseling process, Toni helped me explore my deeper needs and values, not just my snap judgments about people's career status in the world. Now, I make well over $60,000 a year, cut hair for all ages (including kids), do facials, scalp massages, etc, love talking with all my clients, and truly enjoy my work. I could make more money, but I prefer to work only four days a week. I go to trainings and conferences, and like learning new things. I also explored becoming a lab technician, a physical therapy assistant, a baker, a labor and delivery nurse, a child life specialist, and a children's librarian. All those careers sounded good, too. The choice was hard, but I am happy. After my mom paid for all those sessions with Toni, I have to give her haircuts and facials for life, but that's no problem! Good luck with your search. happy with my career path
Hello! I am a career counselor in Moraga and also teach a class in Career Transitions at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. It seems like you could benefit from some information about teaching careers and salaries, so you might want to start by looking at the U.S. Dept. of Labor website for information on teaching careers: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos069.htm There are certainly other careers you could do, and to make a career change, you really need to assess your transferrable skills, interests, values, preferred working environment, etc.. I would be happy to work with you if you're interested in career counseling. Or, take my 6-week class on Tuesday nights starting March 4 at DVC! My phone number is (925) 376-5885, and my website is www.mothersinbalance.com. Best of luck! Yvonne
You don't have to get any more schooling to become a nanny, and you can make considerably more. For instance, preschool teacher wages = absolutely cannot support yourself longterm on one income, whereas you definitely can as a nanny (assuming you don't take the lowest paid slave positions! Those people want nannies but can't afford it, so they try to weasle you into taking less than it takes to live on. Just say no). I've always thought it was interesting that you need no schooling or qualifications to be a nanny, and so much to be a pre-teacher, and yet nannies make considerably more, while having a lovely, low adult:child ratio. Now, if you thrive on the chaos of 20 kids, nannying is not for you. Don't get me wrong; it's still quite challenging at times, but the daily rhythm is really different and can be a lot more mellow. I would never work at a pre-school, for the simple reason that the pay would mean I'd need to live in my car. I've been a nanny for many years. I love it and recommend it
Hi. I just switched careers from working in an office to nursing. I started when my child was 10mos old. It was very hard but anything is possible if you want it bad enough. I just wanted to say that the community college system is great & maybe you can find a counselor there to guide you. Also, many can get their tuition waived with the board of governor's award. My husband was working & we qualified, you may too. Check it out: http://www.peralta.cc.ca.us/apps/pubs.asp?Q=1 Good luck! career switcher
I have noticed that nobody answered the advice wanted by the preschool teacher who was looking for a change in career. I can understand this situation perfectly well, as I am a preschool teacher myself. I am a single mom with a child. Although I like my job, I am not completely happy because of the financial stress generated by the poor salary. To survive in the bay area with a preschool teacher salary, I have to share my appartment with a roommate and also have to do occasional babysitting. Even dogwalkers make more money/hour walking dogs than we do taking care of children. It is a shame that we are paid so little. My advice is, since you have a AA degree, I think that it should be possible to transfer to teaching in elementary schools with better wages and long vacations. But I don't know how to proceed. Maybe Bananas could help you with that. Good luck. Being there too

Re-Entering the Workforce as a college teacher

Sept 2007

I've been off any sort of professional track for several years now, busy starting and raising a family. I'm now ready for re-entry and one of the things I'd love to do is teach some intro or advanced-undergraduate psych. courses (can be at any type of college: UC, State, Jr. College, etc.). I have a PhD (Social Psych.) but no teaching background, other than a couple of guest lectures as a grad. student many years ago. Given my lack of teaching background, is this even a possibility? Or, should I just give up and find something else? I would love any feedback, info., etc. you have to offer!

I am also interested in hearing from those of you that have or are or will be making this transition as to what resources you've found or used to help write an up to date resume w/all the volunteer work you did while ''not working'', where you've looked for employment -- esp. flexible hour jobs! -- and anything else you think might come in handy. Thanks! Stephanie


Offer to guest lecture or do some volunteer instructor gigs to beef up your teaching resume. If you can get some guest lecture gigs, try to get the hiring dean to visit your class and offer some feedback. I'm trying to do the same thing as you - but even with some teaching experience, I can't get anywhere without a graduate degree. My 16 years of professional experience is getting me nowhere fast! At least you're one step ahead with the phd. Good luck! debbie

Switching from corporate exec to teaching

July 2007

I'm thinking about making a total career switch - from being a corporate executive to teaching. How do you do it? I'm still pretty young (not quite 30) and I think that I'm ready for something new. I've been thinking more and more about teaching lately. I have a daughter now and I would love to be able to spend summer's with her. Plus, I've always really liked children and I feel the need to do something that might actually make a difference in this world. I'm thinking I would want to teach elementary children, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. So what do I do? I have a BA, but not in education. How do I get certified? Where do I even go to find a teaching job? And I guess more importantly, could I survive on a teacher's salary? My husband and I combined now make over $150.0k a year and are barely making it, what with a nice size mortgage, childcare, car payments, etc... Obviously a life style change would be an absolute must. I guess I'm just clueless as to where to even begin! I never thought I would be in the spot - 8+ years into a career and now wanting to get out of it. Please help me find my way! teacher at heart


hi-i was in the same exact boat as you, with the exception of the salary. i did, however, take a huge paycut in order to work in a school-aged daycare just to see if i could work w/kids at all. found out i loved it, and then was in the same situ as you, not a clue where to start. i got VERY discouraged when i found out how hard it is to get into a ''real'' program like cal state's. thus, i ended up at nat'l university, where you essentially pay for your degree but was able to obtain a teachers cred and a masters in ed. my b.a. is in psych. you also have to take tests in order to get your cred, and pass fingerprint reviews. its very expesive to get a credential that will eventually earn you about 43k a yr, so you have to LOVE it.

i could go on but this is long enuf! if you need more advice, i'm sure lots of ppl will post about this...if not, you can email me.

by the way, if you can try subbing at first, you may save yourself tons of time/money in the end! good luck Frannie


In California a BA in Education is neither necessary or desireable for becoming a teacher. If you want to teach younger grades then if you have a degree called ''Liberal Studies'' you usually can satisfy the subject competency requirements, otherwise with a regular BA in any subject you simply take the CSET which are multiple choice and essay subject profiencency exams. In addition to the CSET to become a teacher you need to take the CBEST and earn a credential. Both sets of tests are usually a requirement to enter a credential program.

If you want to be paid for your student teaching then you should look into an intern program where you are working full time as a classroom teacher while taking your credential. Otherwise you pay to go to school and do unpaid student teaching under the supervision of another credentialed teacher.

I teach in the WCCUSD (West Contra Costa Unified School District. We have intern programs through CSU East Bay (was Hayward). Without a credential you will be paid aprox $30,000 for the school year. Once you have a credential you would move up to aprox. $35,000. Other districts pay more, I believe we are in the bottom five for the Bay Area. In general teacher pay goes up with each year of service. Pay can also go up by earning additional units. I've been teaching for 7 years (2 outside of the district) and make about $40,000. No one goes into teaching for the money. I could make more if I changed to a higher paying district, but I live close to my job and that is the trade off I have made. Plus WCCUSD pays full benefits for me and my family which a lot of higher paying districts don't cover.

I'm sure you will get lots of advice so I'll cut this short... good luck. I think that if teaching keeps coming to you as ''what you should be doing'' than you should give it a chance. That was what I was going through before I started... in my late 20's also. I went the intern route because I felt that at least I wouldn't loose a year of pay on the ''experiment''. I figured I could do anything for a school year and could go back to my office job if I didn't like it. Obviously that didn't happen for me. teacher mom


What you would need to do is a credential program. It doesn't matter what your BA was in. You just need to pass the CBEST and the subject matter tests. A credential takes about a year. But before you make the switch, do the math. I am your age and I have been teaching for 8 years, so I have that many years on the payscale, STRS, etc. I have colleagues older than us that have switched from private enterprise to be with their kids and they are finding they can't stick with it because of the money, so they are going back to business, having wasted a lot of time and opportunity. If you are feeling the pinch with what you are making now, I just don't know if you are going to be able to deal. This has been my job as long as I have been an adult so I am used to it. I just think that you should think hard about whether you want to teach or if you just want to change jobs, stay home with your kids for awhile, work part-time or something else. modest mortgage teacher

Teaching credential - part time program?

April 2007

I am looking to earn my teaching credential in a part time program. I have a B.F.A and an M.F.A already, so lots of debt. I was recently accepted into both “Teach for America” and “Oakland Teaching Fellows”, but happily found out I was pregnant, and could not follow through with either program. I have a beautiful 11 week old baby now and am looking for Bay Area programs where I could earn a credential (K-8 special ed mild to moderate) on a part time basis. Would be teacher.


All CSU's have credential programs you can complete part time. Try SF State or CSU Easy Bay (Hayward). A few years ago CSUEB had some joint programs with UCB that held classes in Oakland. National also has programs you can complete part time. Good Luck
Hi -- I'm interested in virtually the same thing, but have no idea how to work it out while taking care of a baby... I am hoping that someone posts some advice, but if not, I wanted to give you my email address in case you discover some info -- I'd love to know what it is! Thanks! kevin
Look into Project Pipeline, which is a part-time credential program where you teach as an Intern while attending classes in evenings and on Saturdays. I didn't use this program myself, but have worked with new teachers who were in the program. I believe it is relatively inexpensive (a non-profit program), but can be intense since you are in the classroom as you are learning to be a teacher. It's also only offering single subject or special ed credentials. http://www.projectpipeline.org/ Kathy

Is there life after teaching?

April 2007

I just left the teaching profession and am not looking back. The problem is, what can I do now? I fear that employers will not fully understand what the job entails, and not consider my experience as transferable. Does it make sense to get a short term job in the attempt to stay connected to the world? I welcome any advice out there. Anon


I am also leaving teaching after 10 years, probably for good. We should talk (maybe form a group for mutual support...anyone else out there?). I am trying to transition to law enforcement because I have been a volunteer in it for 5 years and really enjoy the parts of it I have been in contact with. I am trying to explore the other parts before I make the final commitment. So, my suggestion would be to think about what really gets you going in the morning. What do you love to do in life? What kind of things excite you? How much money do you need to live on (that eliminated a number of choices for me)? How far is your maximum commute? And you could make an appt. with Toni Littlestone in Albany. She is a wonderful, empathetic, helpful career coach I worked with some years back. And yes, you do have lots of transferrable skills. Good luck! a high school teacher
I left the teaching profession about 10 years ago, and you are right, people won't understand all that it entails. One trick is to promote skills without overtly saying ''you don't know what it takes to be a teacher'' (no employer likes to be preached to).

I did take temporary work, in my case it worked out really well, after a couple of really dud assignments, I had one in a company that led to a full time position and rapid promotions. However during the interview process (for a different full-time job) I did have someone say ''I really like you, but I'm worried that as a teacher you won't know how to work a full 40 hour week'' (no comment needed on that!)

The other advice I have is the standard job-seeker advice. Everyone you know should know that you are looking for work. And, apply for everything that interests you. Promote different areas of your skills to match the position. I once hired someone who very effectively promoted her waitressing experience as applicable to a Client Services position for a technology company. Good Luck Past Teacher


It depends on what sort of career you're hoping to enter. With the strong organizational, content development and management skills that teachers develop in the classroom, they can be very attractive candidates. There's not much difference between a group of middle-school kids and a team of office workers! Former Teacher Who Made the Switch
I don't understand why you feel this way - I've never heard a person underestimate the hard, valuable service a teacher provides. I think teachers are somewhat revered.

That said, yes, you need to take a good look at all that was required to be a teacher, and figure out how that will transfer to other professions. Perhaps a single session with a life coach, or even getting the help of a professional resume writer. Maybe you just need to meet with someone in marketing or public relations - a spin doctor, to help you spin what you did into all the relevant things you'll do elsewhere. Best of luck!


I taught for five years, and it was a very difficult decision to leave. I had been living in Santa Cruz and was sure I wanted to leave the area but not sure I never wanted to be a teacher again. It was hard to find a job -- although for financial reasons I had to find one before the end of summer -- and I ended up taking something that paid less.

It was a hard adjustment because teaching has a very flat hierarchy, and I was used to using many different kinds of skills in the classroom. I found myself in a hierarchical corporate environment where I had to learn a set of skills (editing and print production) and do them over and over again.

Frankly I thought I was going to lose my mind. Sitting down all day was also a huge adjustment for me. I used to run up and down the fire stairs when no one was looking to keep from going nuts. My original plan was to work there for six months, but those were the dot com days. Everything crashed, and I was stuck there for two years.

BUT the good part of it was that I learned computing and editing skills which I was able to combine with my teaching and Spanish skills to get a job I really like. To be perfectly honest, I'd probably be making more money now if I'd stayed in teaching. One thing I hadn't realized is that in the corporate world they call a cost of living increase ''a raise.'' On the other hand, I just had a child, and I am able to work half time, and it really is half time. Nothing like the crazy hours I put in as a teacher. The other advantage is I can see how I could use what I've learned to go in several different directions. When you're teaching the only upward option is becoming a principal, which sounds like a living hell to me.

My advice is, if you can't find your dream job, find something halfway to your dream job to get some of the skills you will need. In the regular world, all you have to give is two weeks notice, you don't have to wait until the end of the school year, so if you want to change you can be more flexible about finding something else. And learn to negotiate for your salary; it's not something you ever have to do as a teacher. Good luck. anon


Finding Teaching Jobs at Private Schools

Jan 2007

Does anyone out there know where/how private schools advertise teaching positions? I'm a PhD, interested in teaching at the high school level... Any advice or insights are welcome. Tired of the university culture but love to teach


Well, first of all, let me say that not all private schools are created equally. The ''best'' ones in terms of oversight, organization, and benefits will be associated with NAIS, the National Organization of Independent Schools. Their website will allow you to find all the local schools associated with them, which is a fairly rigorous process. The also have a jobs board at nais.org that you can search. Also, on the school search page, you can look for state organizations, the California one is CAIS. They might also have a website and information you can search.

There are several independent school head-hunters, the one that seems to be used most often is Carney-Sandoe (do a google search). They will allow you to apply as a candidate, and if they accept you, they will work on your behalf to place you at a school. The fee for you is nothing, but the schools would pay a fee to them if they hired you. A similar group is ism.inc, and another is CalWest (I think that's the name). Good luck. I love teaching in independent schools! anon


Go to the websites of the Private Schools you are interested in applying to. They have employment opportunities that you may click on. Good Luck. -
Private schools, even those in the Bay Area, use search agencies for 'independent schools.' I don't recall the names of the ones I used years ago, but a call to local private school secretaries should lead to the information. You will have to convince them that you can teach as they hold the idea that PhDs are introverted researchers. Be prepared to teach sample classes (not give lectures)when you do interview. Also look for alum from your institution on the faculty of private (they prefer 'independent' schools). almost went that route
First try signing up with Carney Sandoe or one of the major education recruiters. I've taught at several independent schools who use these services.

Then start networking, talking to friends of friends who teach and have connections. It's not uncommon to get one's foot in the door that way.

Finally, try starting with subbing. Arrange to meet with heads of departments. Put your face to your name on your resume. Make your self available and when you sub, leave your mark. Don't just passively babysit, but spark those kids. If they like your energy and feel you actually teach, they'll spread the word you are good. Good luck! love teaching


I'm a teacher and department chair at a private high school, and I have seen many people in your situation. In fact, I have many current colleagues who have made your transition, so I know it can be done. There are placement agencies that you may wish to talk to-- Carney Sandoe (national) and Cal West (regional)-- but I would encourage you to do as much of your own research and applications as possible. Schools have to pay a hefty fee to the agency, and you will also have more control over your materials if you send them in yourself. Look at websites of local schools for job advertisements. If there's a school that looks particularly appealing and/or convenient to you, don't hesitate to send in your papers even if there's no advertised job: if something does come up, the school will be glad to know you're out there. If you get an interview, learn as much about the school as you can: from the website, from friends, etc. You should also be sure you're familiar with independent school education, whether from your own experience or from talking to people. If you've never seen the small classes, the personal attention, and the high level of intellectual rigor of a good independent school, it can be hard to imagine! Having said that, though, you will need to remember that you will be making a switch from teaching college students to teaching high school students (or even younger-- you didn't say whether you would consider middle school). So if you have to teach a sample class, don't hesitate to ask your contacts at the school for advice on appropriateness of material and of your lesson plan. I've definitely seen PhD-level teaching candidates blow their chances by aiming too high or too low-- and not realizing their mistake. Finally, you should also realize that teaching at an independent school usually entails other responsibilities beyond the classroom (advising, helping with clubs, dealing with parents, etc.). In an interview, people will be looking to see how easily you will be able to ''connect'' with teenagers and integrate into the culture of the school. I hope this advice will be helpful. Teaching in a good private school can be a truly amazing way to spend your working life. Good luck with your career transition! --A happy high school teacher
There are directories for Private (''Independent'') Schools, and magazines and newspapers. There is an organization called NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) which probably lists openings in its publication.

In your situation I would contact a placement organization such as Carney, Sandoe & Associates. They specialize in placing teachers and administrators in Independent Schools -- the more flexible you are as to course, age group, kind of school, geographic area and extracurricular activites you are willing to supervise the easier it will be to place you. Depending on your subject(s) there may be a fee for placing you, or a school may be willing to pay that fee to get you. Yes, I used to work for one of those Places


Teaching credential from another state

August 2006

I have recently received my masters in elementary ed. in Hawaii, taken their required Praxis tests, and am now ready to begin working in the bay area again - and have some teaching or education job questions. I am wondering what the teaching job availability actually is for elementary school teachers in the Berkeley and Marin County areas? Is the sample CBEST at http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/ a good representation of the test? Standards are all the thing in Hawaii - do schools expect me to know California's standards by heart? Valerie


I just want to say that the CBEST is very easy! When they say ''Basic Educational Skills'' they really mean, enough math to do a gradebook, enough reading and writing to stay ahead of the kids. If by some accident you fail one part, you can retake just that part and your passing scores on the other part stand. On the writing part, don't be too fancy, just be organized and clear.

Teachers as Parents: Avoiding Burnout

April 2006

I'm an east bay public school teacher (secondary level) who went back to teaching full time after my son turned 2. He's now three. I've been back to teaching for almost two years, and I feel like I'm literally drowning. Drowning in paperwork. Drowning in lesson plans. Drowning in meetings, phone calls, errands, housework, and did I mention paperwork? My poor son - in daycare three days a week, with my husband the other two - gets very little mom time. I feel very guilty.

I'm approaching burnout. Why? Because when I come home, I set everything else aside to be with my son. Those few hours are precious to me. This means, of course, that grading, planning, and typing don't even get started until about 8:00 PM, and I work until at least 11:00, sometimes later. And I wake up at 5:00 AM to get a head start on the day. If I don't keep this schedule, I literally cannot stay afloat. I'm not doing a great job as a teacher. A former award-winning mentor, conference presenter, state grant receiver, program initiator and member of the principal's ''inner circle'', I'm now on the periphery, giving papers cursory glances and lurching home as fast as I can. If I had to grade my teaching since giving birth, I'd give myself a C.

I used to love my job, but it's sucking so much out of me. Are there any other parents of young children out there who are teachers? I can't quit my job - we'd lose our home and the very basic amenities we keep. I'm just so numb, raw, and dog, dog, tired. My students deserve better. My son deserves better. My husband and my soul deserve better.

Teachers who are parents, how do you do it? How do you manage your time? How do you balance the never-ending high tide of grading, scoring, and preparation with time to enjoy your life? Inside a sinking bathysphere


Have you considered trying to find a job at a private school? You can enjoy teaching, but typically (especially in the lower grades/middle school) have smaller class sizes, meaning less papers to grade. There's generally, in my experience, less paperwork and less red tape. On the other hand, the pay will probably be a little bit less, and some people find parents and their demands to be more overwhelming. It might be worth checking out. anon
Oh my, are you me? I am only working part time, but I have the same problems, to a lesser extent. Is it possible for you to work part time? In any case, I think it might help for you to not take your work home and do it at night, but to stay at school an extra hour, at least one or two days (on the Dad days perhaps), and do what you can there. Take home only one or two packets of work per night. Make it easier for yourself to correct things--make good rubrics, make keys so your husband can be a TA at home. Give oral projects that can be graded in class. Emphasize quality over quantity in homework, your students will love you for it! Have students correct their own/their partner's quizzes with an overhead. Spend some time this summer getting some lesson plans or calendars ready so you don't have to do that every night. I think you are right to drop everything and be with your son when you are home, but also set aside some time to drop everything and work and also find some way to minimize that work. same situation
I have been teaching for about 8 years now at high schools. I admit I only have part time custody of our two children, but it is a full time activity when I have them. Ways I cope...1) we eat out a couple times a week. 2) if you can squeeze it out of your budget, have a housekeeper come in twice a month ($70 per session). Ditto on a gardener ($110 per month). You have limited time so really need to set your priorities. 3) I have a T.A. for two periods and they grade most of my homework/classwork using a key or rubric. They are seniors who get credit for being a T.A. If you teach elementary school, recruit parents or dependable students to do the same. 4)I have my computer in a corner of the living room so that if I do have to grade at home I can still hear, talk with my kids while they do their homework, play, etc. 5) I also took a great course on managing all the paperwork and I have a CD copy of it that I would be willing to loan you. Good luck! kathryn
I am also a full-time teacher at the secondary level (at a private, parochial high school) and I agree that it is tough to balance everything. It sounds like you are spending too much time on everything for school. I am not trying to be critical, just thinking that you must be an English teacher with so much to grade. I am wondering how long you have been teaching. I found that in my first couple of years that I felt like I was drowning and I didn't even have kids. I think you need to decide that for awhile you won't be the best teacher and that is OK. You are probably a better teacher than you think you are anyway. I guess I tend to try to do my planning on the weekends and directly after school. Somehow I manage to leave everyday at 3:30 or 4 and really don't do a lot at night unless I just gave a test or project. Then I try to go in on the weekends while the kids are napping. My problem has been finding time to pump and teach in 3 different classrooms. Maybe you might consider going part time or switching to a school with smaller class sizes. I realize none of this may help but I think you should consider ways to work smarter and not harder. I have given up for the time being to be an awesome teacher and instead I make sure I do my job, keep my job and try to take care of my kids as best that I can. I will say that private/Catholic schools tend to be more of a community environment and I don't get this sense from public. anon
I teach high school English in a high achieving district. This is my 20th year. My kids are now 11 and 13, and I could have written your letter myself. Here's my best piece of advice: sometimes,(perhaps all the time), your goal is to be a good teacher, not a great one. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm asking you to compromise yourself... but I also think you need to give yourself permission to get on the treadmill,so to speak. You need to have a real life, so you actually can be present and happy in your teaching life as well. It's ok not to have a innovative lesson everyday...it's ok to take a little longer to get the papers back. It's also ok to use your sick days ocassionally to grade papers or take a ''mental health'' day or go on a field trip with your kid... And you have to let go of the award winning this or that for a while. You're right-- your kid IS the most important thing. This isn't to say that you're students aren't important... of course they are... but this is a good opportunity to help you find ways for them to depend on you less. Many people go into teaching , because they are nuturing people-- perhaps even self-sacrificing people-- and they may have a hard time letting go of that, but it just doesn't do any good to be wasted all the time. It's a compromise you make.

Also: I taught 60% for 2 years and 80% for 4 years when my kids were younger. I know it's not always possible to do that... but it did help me feel like I could be both a better parent and a better teacher. ( I know, I know, then I could work 50 hours a week and get 80% of a public school teacher's salary! It's unjust, but alas, so is the world we live in).

Above all, find support. Go out and have a beer with your fellow teachers from time to time. Go to the conferences where you can surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic about the profession. Remind yourself from time to time what your ideals are... believe and and understand that that is often enough. This is how you will survive as a teacher. Been there, done that


I feel your pain! I am definitely not the same teacher I was before I had kids and unfortunately, the only way that I have found to be both a decent parent and a decent teacher at the same time is to work ''part-time'' (I still put in over 40 hours/week, of course!). Many of my colleagues with small children have done the same, and it seems to be a sad reality of our profession. I am lucky to be able to afford this and still live here in the Bay Area, but I think the only alternative is to adjust your expectations of yourself as a teacher to fit the reality of the time constraints of a parent, or vice versa. PT teacher, FT mama
Another thought: Even though it's hard, you have to do your best to maximize your time at school. One way to do this is to actually plan to stay later in order to get work done. I know this feels terrible; after all you want to get home to your kid right away, but if you can do some grading at school, and actually take less home, it will weigh on you less. How else can you use your school time efficiently? Before I had kids, I used to only grade when I could really sit down and focus...which meant I needed to have an hour or more of time. After kids I had to change that mentality and use 15 minutes- or even 10 when it came up... during lunch time, or preps, or while students were working on a quiz or something else quietly. I also made a concerted effort to schedule lessons regularly that allow such quiet time (like reading time or... yes, even movies) in order to give myself time to do some grading during school hours. These things do not compromise you as a teacher.They allow you to stay in the profession.

Sometimes, it's really hard to be ''on'' all day, to keep pushing yourself to stay mentally focused even during lunch. I know, beleive me, the pace is relentless. But, think about it this way: if you can work in 30 minutes every day at school, that is two and a half hours at home you don't have to find at 5AM or 11PM. It really adds up.

You know, we don't ask our lawyers or plumbers or CPAs to be extraordinary people, but somehow we expect it of teachers. It's ok to be a normal person, with a real life. Don't feel guilty for living it. a veteran teacher


I hear you. I have two kids and teach middle school. It is exhausting. This year I have found a balance that is working fairly well.

1) I write my lesson plans one month at a time. Usually I end up staying on schedule better this way than I did when I planned a week at a time. I get all of my copies made at the beginning of the cycle and find I have more time for grading.

2) I spend my prep. time (my only block of uninterrupted time all day) grading or running copies only... calls home and follow- ups with counselors come at times of day when I have fewer consecutive minutes so that they can't eat-up my whole prep.

3) I set an end of day time and work to it no matter what, even on Fridays and before vacations... sometimes I don't get all I wanted to done, some I do more than I had planned.

4) I have stayed out of the ''politics'' because it is an energy drain.

5) NO WORK ON WEEKENDS... that is kid and husband time.

6) Simplified grading for homework that is ''skill practice''.

7) TA, volunteer or detention students do clerical work like filing, sorting, alphabetizing, stapling, etc.

This isn't exactly my favorite, but it is the all important... don't beat yourself up for what you ''should'' do. There is always another thing that you could do or spend money on that would make you the ''best'' but sometimes good enough is enough. There are some days when I assign book work... it isn't the most exciting or innovative teaching, but it is valid, and gives me time once in a while to get some of the planning and grading done during school hours. tired teacher


Becoming a teacher so I can spend more time with my child

April 2006

Hello- I have a 2.5 year old son and work F/T. Although I have finally found a company that isn't horrid to work for, I still feel as if I am missing out on my childs life and life in general.

Every day when I drop him off at preschool, I am energized by the kids and feel myself wanting to stay longer and longer. In college, I was a preschool teachers aid and then also was a T.A. for summer school second graders. During the dot-com downer days, I also went so far as to be qualified to substitute teach and had considered getting credentialed. I have a B.A. in English.

Now, I am beginning to think of teaching as a way to sort of lock in more time with my child as he gets older. But I would love to hear from teachers and those especially who have made the leap from corporate to teaching. Are you in fact able to leave at the end of the school day? Do you spend more time with your child? The thought of having summers off with my child is absolutely wonderful. How awful (really) is the pay? I currently make decent money and am guessing a teachers salary would be half of what I am making now. Any trouble working in a decent/safe neighborhood? I am not keen on driving far to work when I live around the corner from an excellent public school. Any other pitfalls? Did you miss the corporate world?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I know there is a lot to consider with such a change, and want to really think before I jump.

Should I jump?


See the post from the original newsletter about a parent who is a teacher and is drowning! Being a teacher is great in July, but from mid-August to mid-June it is all-consuming. PLEASE do not go into teaching because you think it will give you more time with your own kids -- it doesn't, at least not until summer (and then only part of it)! You have to have a passion for the profession because the pay is not great and the hours are extremely long. The hours you spend at school are only half the time it takes to do a good job. The lesson planning (TONS of this when you are new), grading papers, calling parents, meetings...it is endless. Also, you have to be sure that meeting the many, many needs of 20-30 (elementary) or 150 (high school) students every day will not impact your ability to meet the needs of your own kids at night. I personally love teaching and cannot imagine any other job that is so rewarding on so many levels, but unless you do well on very little sleep, it is destined to take away from your family time. Please talk to some teachers that you think are really great and find out how much time they spend before you make this decision. Sleep-deprived teacher
Having more time with your child is a great reason to look for a different career and on the outset teaching looks like a good option. But before you jump...teaching is a tremendously demanding profession and requires a passion for children and learning as well as a tremendous communication and organizational skills. I am an K-5 educator and I have spent the last 15 years working as a classroom teacher and am now mentoring new teachers. If you possess the passion and skills above, then by all means we need you in the profession. If you are choosing to teach primarily for family reasons, think again. Excellent teachers stay as long as it takes after the bell rings, spend at least some of their summer vacation pondering and planning the following year and do professional development on their own time and at their own expense. Being a good educator follows you around wherever you go- it's not something you leave at the office- or at least most of the wonderful teachers I know don't. The pay- especially compared with the cost of living here in the Bay Area is less than great- even with good benefits and vacation time. Unless you have a partner than can help with the added financial load or a trust fund it's doable but not easy. Also, some teachers commute too- getting a job in a good school or district is competitive- just like the corporate world there are a lot of good candidates out there. If you are still passionate about this, visit some different schools (they vary a lot even within some districts) and invite a teacher or two or three out to talk about what he/she does. It is an amazingly rewarding job but it's not for everyone. passionate about teaching
I worked in the advertising world, miserably, for 12 very long years before I made the change to teaching ten years ago. I have never regretted my decision. I love working with kids and also LOVE the vacation package. It is very challenging and rewarding, and at times extremely stressful and emotionally exhausting. Regardless, I know what I do is important and feel good about my chosen career. For me, I really think it helped coming from corporate America because I have a broader perspective of the work world. I know, I hear all the time about how teachers are under paid and over worked and I too, made some big sacrifices in the beginning of my career (financially); but I worked many, many, many, many longer days in the advertising world. Regularly during planning season which could last several months, I worked nights (many times until 10:00pm or longer) and was expected to work weekends all the time (anyone in this industry will agree that I'm not exagerating). Now, I have a life. I have time to spend with my daughter and turn off the alarm clock during the summer. I recharge and do it again in September. I'm curious as to what other career-switchers have to say but overall, I'd have to say life is good as a teacher. Thankful Teacher
Hello, Every time I hear someone say they want to become a teacher so they can have more time, I can't help but cringe. Teaching requires a LOT of time and creative energy that many people don't seem to recognize. I am constantly trying to innovate and keep up with changes in the field. There is so much more to teaching than teaching--being a member of a professional community requires attending conferences, reading, leading workshops, etc. Yes, having a summers off is a great perk, but committed teachers use that time for professional development as well as the much-needed rest. It is not uncommon to work well over 40 hours a week and on weekends--in fact, it's a miracle when I'm not working at least a few hours on the weekends. I don't mean to sound negative--I love teaching and I don't have much experience in the corporate world--but I would only recommend that you make a career change if you really WANT to be a teacher, a good teacher, not one who just does the same thing over and over and leaves school as soon as possible every day to be with family. That kind of teaching is not personally satisfying and it's not worth the money. lisa
I can only respond to some of your questions since I went straight into teaching and do not have insight on the switch from corporate to education. I would like to tell you that you can easily find out how much you will be paid by looking at the website or if that fails, contacting the HR departments of school districts. The salary schedule is public knowledge. I teach high school in an excellent district that is a short commute from Oakland.

As for leaving school when the bell rings, it's not quite like that. Your first few years you will need to work very hard on your lesson plans and correct the kids' work. After a few years, lesson planning is much easier but there is still work to be corrected. You can either stay an hour or two after school or take it home.

It sounds like you are interested in teaching the younger kids, which is great. I think it takes more endurance and perhaps emotional energy than the big kids. I enjoy the teens and, since each class is a discrete entity, it is easier to find a part time job, which is what I am doing now. happy teacher


My sister is a teacher, and I can tell you that it's a myth that tecahers leave work at 3:15 and have summers off. There are countless additional hours outside the school day for prep, grading, meetings, conferences, etc... In the summer, there is continuing education, closing the classroom and setting it up again in the fall before students return. I won't say much about the pay, since I think it's so relative, but I know it's low compared to many professions. If you want to teach, go for it. But I wouldn't look it as a way to spend more time with your child. My niece actually ended up resenting how much time her mom spent with students compared to her. anon
I cannot comment on the teaching profession, but I can comment on making the terrifying change to a dream job that pays pennies. My son is 3.5 and up until now, my experience with corporate america has ranged from decent to horrid. I have a 2 page list of references who say I am an awesome employee, but little do they know, I hated my job. I can't go into the very long details, but I think corporate america needs a MAJOR moral overhaul. I finally said enough is enough and made the scary decision to go after my dream job, start from the beginning and take a HUGE pay cut. Fortunately, my husband was also supportive. I have to say, even though we hardly have any money left over each month after paying bills, neither one of us has regretted it! It has made our marriage and our family so healthy, since I am no longer stressed and resentful of the time I spend away from my son. Although I am not spending any more time with him, the time we do spend is of a much better quality because mommy is not cranky and stressed :-) Even though we brown-bag it everywhere we go and have to be very careful with money, it doesn't seem that big of a deal when we are happy and content with our lives.

So, I say, follow your dream! Life is too short to squander it away in a corporate environment that sucks the humanity and hapiness out of you (I don't sound bitter, do I?) :-) poor and happy


I am in education (have been for 10 years now) but left the classroom when my first child was 1. To answer your questions:

''Are you in fact able to leave at the end of the school day?'' If you are very, very organized- that comes with experience. Most teachers don't leave at 3pm (that, unfortunately, is a myth.)

''Do you spend more time with your child?'' I left the classroom because I wasn't spending enough time with my child.

''How awful (really) is the pay?'' When you look at pay in different districts, you have to look at the benefits package. I work in what could be considered a low-paying district, but the benefits are wonderful.

''I currently make decent money and am guessing a teachers salary would be half of what I am making now.'' Probably...

''Any trouble working in a decent/safe neighborhood?'' In my school district you either have to have seniority or get lucky to teach at a school in a good neighborhood.

''Any other pitfalls?'' Teaching is a very demanding job, physically, chronologically, and emotionally. Teachers are required to do so much these days- you become mother to 20 to 33 kids for a big part of the day. After they leave, there is planning to do, grading papers, cleaning up, organizing. I don't mean to be negative because I love being in education. I am in a position in the main office of my district and I work with teachers and principals at 20 elementary schools. I am very, very lucky, but I paid my dues and worked EXTREMELY hard to get where I am. Unfortunately, I have seen too many teachers who are failing their students because they leave on time and don't put in the extra that is truly needed. Yes, summers off are great, and it's a big joke among teachers that ''The 3 reasons I'm a teacher are: winter break, spring break, and summer'' when the reasons instead should be: kids, kids, kids. If you can, either volunteer in a classroom on a regular basis, or become an instructional aide. That way, you can get a more realistic idea of what being a teacher entails. L


Teaching is a very rewarding profession. That said, it is also time consuming and exhausting. You do have the most important thing going for you and that is that you enjoy children. To answer some of your questions; leaving at the end of the day depends a lot on what grade level you would teach, good teachers rarely leave with the kids, but you can take work home, which will help you as you can work after your kids are asleep. If you are very organized, that will help you not have to put in a lot of time outside of school, but I've been a middle school and high school English teacher and worked before, after, and on the weekends frequently. Pay is different for each district, call or go online for a pay scale, but my husband works in the WCCUSD and is on the highest level of pay 10 years in and makes about $60,000 a year. About working in a safe neighborhood, only apply to districts you feel good about, or be prepared to either work wherever you are needed (at least until you achieve tenure), or decline positions and possibly not work at all. I know this may sound negative, but it is best to go in knowing all the facts. Teaching is really fun and flexible and creative and you get to hang out with children, which is wonderful. Call the districts around you and they can send you applications which will answer a lot of your questions. Good luck deciding! SAHM, previously English teacher
I would read the two other posts from teachers in this issue of the advice newsletter. I'm a teacher, and find it very hard to combine teaching with parenting. I love interacting with students and understanding how they think, but the volume of work is overwhelming. During the school year teaching takes me 55 or so hours a week(I think I'm reasonably efficient, and most people in my department seem to be spending as much or more time on the job). When people think about teachers' schedules, what they notice is the time in the classroom, but for that to go smoothly it takes many hours of prep (as I see it, this is one of the major differences between teaching conditions in the K-12 schools and in the Universities. Some countries(Japan, most of Europe) build more prep time into the teacher's schedules.) Another challenge with teaching is that sometimes it is hard to be responsive to your own child after being responsive to other people's children all day long. You also have to turn off that part of yourself that gets used to constantly regulating behavior, in order to enjoy your child. The one advantage of teaching as a parent is that you can do some of the prep off-site(at the expense of sleep, or as a form of parallel play with your child), and for the part of the summer you don't need to attend classes or meetings, you can be with your child. To figure out what the pay would be go online and look up salary scales from the local districts that post them.

I would make different career decisions, if I had known what daily life would be like as a teacher. I always thought I was more efficient than other people, and their complaints were different than mine, but . . . bay area teacher


I also changed careers to spend more time with my kids. The first advice I got, which was good, was to substitute teach for 6 months and see if I still wanted to do it. West Contra Costa Unified was happy to hire me as a sub with my Master's degree and I subbed everything from K-12 to see which age group I liked best. I also subbed at a private school, Prospect-Sierra, at the same time. It kept me employed every day if I wanted to be.

WCCUSD also has an intern program with Cal State Hayward. I had my own classroom and was paid as a full time teacher while I went to night school and two summers of coursework. Exhausting but you know it is for a limited time.

Pay...private and parochial schools pay about 1/2 to 2/3 that of public schools, in my experience. Be careful that your district offers health insurance. I found out too late that my present district, Mt. Diablo Unified, does not and it is a bear trying to find individual insurance. Most districts pay your dental, eye and health insurance. I have been teaching for 7-8 years now and make about $60K. Through experience I now bring home very little work and I teach from 7a to 3p, then work at school until 4 or 5p. Usually two days a week, I have committee meetings until 4 or 5p after school. I have seniors who come in and act as my T.A. for credit so they correct most of my homework with a key.

I enjoy the vacation times with my kids but many times spring break is a problem as different districts take a different week off. Summers and winter break are usually better synchronized.

If you like kids, I would go for it. Goodness knows, we need more dedicated teachers.

Best of Luck! kathryn


I made the switch from corporate world to teaching prior to having my baby. I worked as much or more as a teacher than I did in the corporate world, where I regularly put in 10-12 hour days. The first several years of teaching are extremeley challenging and time consuming. I worked for several hours (4-6) every Sunday grading papers, planning lessons, etc. I usually worked at school during the week from 7:30am until 4:30 or 5 pm, sometimes later. I often did work at home during hte evening. As a new teacher, I was emotionally drained from the realities of public school teaching, i.e. managing discipline, lots of troubled kids, not a lot of support. I taught in a district that is not the worst in the Bay Area, but certainly not the best.

That being said, overall it was a positive experience and I hope to return to teaching someday, when my kids are older and in school themselves. I've heard from veteran teachers that the longer you teach the easier it gets in terms of time. Once you have a library of lesson plans to choose from you don't have to spend as much time figuring out what to do every day.

As a new teacher you may find it difficult getting hired in the district you want to work in, especially if you are not a math or science teacher. Social Studies and English teachers are more abundant than math teachers and therefore those positions are harder to come by. Your chances of getting in to a good district will go up if you are qualified to teach those subjects.

The pay is not great. I went from making $95k to $35k when I made the switch. Though I was on an emergency credential (lower pay) and working at one of the lowest paid districts in the area.

The vacation time and summers were nice, though you may find that you will do some work during that time as well.

So, if you're looking to spend more time with your kids, you'll probably get some of that during breaks and during the summer but not during the school year and definitely not during your first year or two.

Teaching is an incredibly rewarding job, but it's not easy. Don't do it if you're just looking for summers off. You're heart has to be in it to be successful. anon


I am in my 20th year of teaching (high school,English- I teach in a upper middle class suburb, with a supportive community and high skilled/high achieving students) and I have a lot of concerns about your questions. The number one thing I tell young teachers or anyone considering the profession: You need to have a strong sense of your self and your philosopy as a teacher.

There absolutely needs to be a reason for you to be in the classroom. You must either really love your subject, or really love kids or really believe in public education... because it is FAR too much work and too much of an emotional commitment otherwise. You simply won't last. Fully half of all teachers leave the profession within a few years. My belief is that this often happens because people go into the profession for romantic reasons that are simply not based in the reality of teaching. Ideas like ''you get the summers off'' or ''You get off work at 3:00'' are simply not true. I don't think I have enough space here to speak to each of these... I suggest that you spend a lot of time in a variety of classrooms-- even shadow a few teachers through their days (and nights and weekends) to see what their lives look like. I don't know a single good teacher who doesn't put in a ridiculuous amount of hours....I have a 10 and 13 year old and I feel incredibly lucky that I have a husband who has not only been supportive of my job, but flexible enough in his that he could do things like take the kids to doctors' appointemnts and help out in class during the school day, and go on field trips, things that are difficult for someone whose day is run by bells and whistles.

I'm not here to discourage you. The profession will always need good teachers--- and kids will always deserve good teachers, but becoming a teacher (at least becoming a good one) is a lifestyle choice, and not one made by default. I don't want to discourage idealism... teaching is in many ways a leap of faith, an entirely hopeful act... but romanticizing it doesn't help anyone.

And, by the way... you can go on the website of just about any district to ask for the salary schedule to see what teachers make. a committed, but tired teacher... with eyes wide open


Teaching pay is really low. There's not one teacher in my school who owns a house unless they have shared the cost with a partner. You have to live very frugally and still have very little to save. I am seriously considering another career because I cannot afford to teach anymore.

The kids are definitely the best part of the job, I truly love my students and enjoy working with them. As many teachers will tell you, if you could just teach (and make a decent living at it) it would be a great job, however you spend a lot of time dealing with administration and test scores and the pressure to keep scores up. I teach in Richmond, to mostly second language learners, and they are required to take the same test as everyone else. Hanging over our heads is the fact under No Child Left Behind, if scores aren't up we may lose our jobs, get transferred, lose pay...this and the fact there's no additional support to help these kids...so you just have to make it happen. Administrators are stressed and it's passed down to the teachers. Many experienced teachers are trying to get into schools with high test scores as the pressure is too high in low scoring schools.

I know some teachers who find it difficult to work all day with kids and then go home to kids. Usually you are the only adult in the room and have very little contact with other adults, it can be a weird feeling...all the teachers are so busy they have very little time to talk, except at lunch. As for working late, your contract gives you your hours, although many teachers feel pressure from principals to stay late. They'll take as much free time from you as you'll give them.

All that said, summers off are great...you won't have the money to do anything, but the time off is wonderful. Good luck with your decision. Maybe try subbing to get a feel how you'd like it. MVM


Everyone I know that is a full-time teacher works evenings, nights and/or weekends making lessons, correcting papers, etc. And starting teachers earn about $35-38K/yr. --just FYI
Although not everyone is happy as a teacher, it has been a very positive choice for me. I left a high-level corporate career and became a fifth grade teacher in a suburban school. I did about a year of soul-searching under the guidance of career consultant Toni Littlestone. She patiently and sensitively helped me examine my values, my lifestyle needs, and my personality, and to work through a lot of fears I had. I do have a fair amount of work to do after work and on weekends, but even that is nothing compared to the stress I had in my former job. I make about $60,000 per year, which is far less than I made before. My spouse works, and my family and I have to be careful, but it is worth it. The main thing is that this suits my values. I believe in education, and feel that my work matters. I give a lot, but I get a lot back. happy to be a teacher
Although not everyone is happy as a teacher, it has been a very positive choice for me. I left a high-level corporate career and became a fifth grade teacher in a suburban school. I did about a year of soul-searching under the guidance of career consultant Toni Littlestone. She patiently and sensitively helped me examine my values, my lifestyle needs, and my personality, and to work through a lot of fears I had. I do have a fair amount of work to do after work and on weekends, but even that is nothing compared to the stress I had in my former job. I make about $60,000 per year, which is far less than I made before. My spouse works, and my family and I have to be careful, but it is worth it. The main thing is that this suits my values. I believe in education, and feel that my work matters. I give a lot, but I get a lot back. happy to be a teacher
I really hope you read the posting down below in this newsletter entitled, Teachers as Parents: Avoiding Burnout. She addressed a lot of your misconceptions. I don't know any high quality teachers who work any less than a 45-60 hour week. Most teachers arrive at school at 7:30am and leave at 5pm - and many work at home too! And summers - by the time you pack up your room, write your progress reports, attend conferences, plan new curriculum, set up your room again, write grants etc. you don't have many weeks left! Yes, more than in the corporate world, but not many!

Teaching is an incredibly hard profession to combine with parenting. I know very few people who have been able to have kids and continue teaching - and remain happy sane and balanced! The demands on teachers these days are tremendous - maintain ongoing communication with parents, make sure your students do well on tests, counsel troubled students, work with families in crisis, fill out paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork, go to meetings, grade papers, create curriculum - oh yes and teach!

Do some informational interviewing with teachers who combine teaching with parenting a young child. It's REALLY hard to do well. The people who I see able to balance parenting and being a high-quality teacher have partners who are home full-time or mostly full-time. These people also have the personality that enables them to work hard - but leave worries at work so that they don't carry it home. If you aren't this kind of a person already - teaching may completely drain you.

I think you are envisioning life as a teacher the way it was 30 years ago. It may still be this way in parts of the US, but it isn't in CA where our educational system is falling apart, many families are in crisis, schools are underfunded and teachers are asked to do more and more with no increases in prep. time or money. I love teaching, but you HAVE to be passionate about it - it isn't a lifestyle choice that any sane person would make! A Passionate, but drained teacher


I became a teacher when my oldest child was 18 mo. The first year I worked from 7 to 5 daily and also worked all day Sat or Sun. By the time I got home each day I was both physically and emotionally drained. It has gotten better over the years as I know have more lesson plans to draw upon, and set better limits for myself, but it is still exhausting.

Since becoming a teacher I have had another child and my oldest is in first grade. Because I ''don't have to be at work'' past three and can ''take my job with me'' I have ALL of the responsibilty for doing ALL the driving of our children to tutoring, lessons, and sports. Meanshile I try to get my grading done on the sidelines.

Being a parent and a teacher also put me in a strange position once my child became a student. Some of my childrens' teachers have assumed I would be on ''their side'' when my kids had problems in school. I am expected to be one of the ''easy parents'' who doesn't make waves and is always supportive even if I truly disagree. It is to be assumed that my child will be the top of the class or that I will know what is being taught and school and will pre- or re-teach the lessons at home so that he will master skills faster. The unfortunate reality is that trying to do homework with or teach skills to my own child is a nightmare for both of us on some nights because I have used up all of my patience during the day on my 175 students. (I guess I forgot to mention that I teach middle school... patience does have it's limits.) I find that at social events other parents sit back and wait for to see if someone else is willing to set limits for all the children so it usually falls to me to intervene before someone is injured, and there are some who then make comments (some not so appreciatively) about my telling their kid to stop acting up. And then when I go on field trips with the class the ''behavior problems'' are always in my group because I will ''know how to handle them''.

Teaching does give me more time with my children. And I have to say that I am a much more fulfilled person as a teacher than I was as an office worker and that has to be better for my kids. I do love teaching. But it isn't a short or easy work day. Hope that helps


Going back to teaching after time off

April 2005

I am looking for a new teaching job after taking the year off to have a baby, who is now 3.5 months. I finished my masters/credential program last June, so I have only student taught so far. I am not sure how or if I should explain the gap in my resume in a cover letter or how to address it in an interview. I would also like a part-time position, but I'm worried that if I ask about that in an initial interview, I will sound flaky or uncommitted. Basically, I am feeling that employers feel like I am not as trustworthy and desirable as someone without a baby and I'm struggling with getting my foot in the door. Any tips from those who have crossed this road before would be appreciated! Thanks. Anon


So I think there are two very different things you're wondering about: how to deal with the resume gap and how to approach looking for a part-time position. I've been a teacher in several school systems, and am currently doing a university faculty job search, so here's what I've found. I think the first is easier than the second. My guess is that it will not be an issue at all, and I would not mention it in a cover letter. It's only a one year gap, and in a tight job market that's especially not a big deal. However, in my own job search, I decided to be completely open in interviews about having a young child, because I want to make sure I'm somewhere that is supportive (or at least not blatantly unsupportive) of that. If you feel similarly, then you might want to work it into the interview, but not let it be too big a deal... I always check myself to make sure I don't go on and on about my baby, although he IS my favorite topic of conversation :)

The second issue, wanting to be part-time, is likely to be tricky. In public schools (don't know about private), part-time jobs are hard to come by, especially if you aren't already in the system. Some people job share, but that often involves being in the right place at the right time, and knowing people already.

Unless you are specifically responding to a part-time posting, you are unlikely to be able to negotiate it. I've had part-time teaching positions due to the right time/ right place factor, but they aren't all that common from what I've seen. I wish this wasn't true, because I think schools of all places should be models of family friendly workplaces. But realistically, I think it will be hard for a beginning teacher to find a part-time placement that pays you as a credentialed teacher (as opposed to after-school programs, etc.). That said, I hope you find something! Good luck. Stephanie


Hi teacher, I just wanted to let you know that there are a lot of job possibilities out there. I did teach for 10 years before having a child but gave up my tenure to be home with my baby until she started kindergarten. Then, I had a clear idea of the type of position and number of hours I was willing to take on. It took a couple of months but I found my job and actually ended up sharing a contract with a teacher whose background is similar to yours - credential but not much experience. She is moving back to southern California next year so we may need a replacement. Feel free to contact me if you want more info or advice. Betsy Weiss bweiss@alamedanet.net
Why don't you substitute teach? For example, get a nanny for Tuesdays and Thursdays and then only accept jobs for those days. Add on more days as you and your child are ready. You will get a feeling for jobs in the district and also recommendations for when you are ready to apply for a permanent position. --good luck

Teaching Credential without a Degree?

July 2004

I've checked the CA website for obtaining a teaching credential and I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but am hoping I'm wrong. :) I have 21 years of work experience and have taught my own 4 children (through 5th grade) but never obtained a bachelor's degree. I got into the computer industry way back in the day (before PC's) and climbed the technical ladder without any credentials. I'd like to work as a substitute teacher but am concerned that I'd have to get a bachelor's degree first. Is there any way around this? Would my work experience (both homeschooling my own 4 and in the business arena) suffice together with passing the CBEST? Thanks for any advice. Kathy


You need a Bachelor's degree to take the CBEST, and you need to pass the CBEST in order to work as a substitute. I myself am a substitute, and it may please you to know that many of the computer lab teachers I have encountered have no credentials or degrees. They are good with children and computers. I wish I could tell you in more detail how they got their jobs, but I do know it's possible. Meg

Substitute Teaching

April 2005

Hello, I've decided to start substitute teaching, in order to augment a meager part-time lecturer's salary, and am wondering what the procedure is after passing the CBEST. Also, could anyone tell me what the prospects are for getting fairly steady work in the bay area as a substitute teacher. I have teaching experience with all ages, like to teach, and expect to be able to do fairly well, after figuring out the initial road bumps. Thanks so much for any feedback. Teacher


I've substituted in West Contra Costa County school district for the past school year. They have a huge demand for substitutes and I could work every day of the week if I wanted to (I don't - am also doing other things). In WCCSD, you can designate where you are willing to work (I don't sub in the high schools; just elem and middle schools). The toughest schools - primarily in Richmond and some in San Pablo - have the biggest need. I had never taught before and have really enjoyed it. Once I got the hang of classroom management, I found it really rewarding for the most part, although sometime very challenging. It's very easy to sign up, and in WCCSD nothing is really required other than the CBEST and a college degree, plus a background check. I believe Berkeley Unified only will hire certified teachers as subs; each district has different requirements. Good luck! Anon
Believe it or not some districts will allow you to start sub. teaching with a CBSET waiver which is good for one year. However, once you've passed the CBEST and you submit all of the paperwork and are fingerprinted, etc. you're good to go. If you want to gaurantee yourself steady work try applying to more than one district in your area, that way when one district has nothing available the other might. I've been a sub. teacher now for 3 years and love it!!! GOOD LUCK! cebs
You can be a substitute teacher without a CBEST if you apply to private schools, such as Prospect Sierra, Black Pine Circle, Head Royce, CPS in the East Bay, and Live Oak School, Hamlin, SF Day in San Francisco, to name a few. Just call the school and say you are looking for a job as a regular sub. Most schools prefer to work with a teacher they already know, so you will be called back over and over if you do a good job the first time. Good luck! leela
June 2004

I'm considering becoming a substitute teacher but don't have a teaching credential. I'd like to know what substitute teaching is like and whether or not substitutes without credentials can get work. I have an education related master's degree and 12 units toward a teaching credential from another state but no teaching credential. I've had over 15 years experience teaching mixed age groups of kids from toddlers though middle schoolers in non- academic settings. Has anybody tried substitute teaching without a teaching credential? How possible is it to get work? If I want to limit my work to certain days during the week (like Monday-Wednesday or Wednesday-Friday) is that workable? Are some school districts in the East Bay more receptive to substitutes without credentials than others? What makes an effective substitute teacher? To Sub or Not to Sub


In general the only requirements to apply to subsitute teach are the following:
1) You must have a bachelor's degree
2) You must have passed the CBEST
3) TB test (I am not postitive if this is a substitute requirement)

Once you have verified the above the school district will fingerprint you. If your fingerprints pass, you will be added to the substitute list. In most of the larger districts in the area that means your number is entered into an automated dialing program that will call you when there is a job available. If you want to take it, you simply ''press 1 now'' and have to show up at the school. If you don't want it, you ''press 2 now'' and the machine will call another sub. Sometimes you will get a call the day before, but frquently you will get a call the same day. Once you are subbing and teachers/schools get to know/like you they may make arrangements with you in advance, and you won't have to work on such short notice all the time. In some districts it is possble to get work almost daily... sometimes just by working at a few schools. If you limit the days, schools and/or grades you may get less calls, but will still find work.

What makes a good sub? Well that depends on the perspective. As a teacher I think a good sub is someone who follows the lesson plans, and makes sure that the kids are behaved and working. For some principals, a good sub is someone who manages to keep the kids in the room. To kids, well, my classes liked the subs who let them watch movies, talk and eat, but that usually meant I didn't ask the sub to come back. a teaching mom


Great that you want to substitute teach. You need to pass the CBEST exam, no credentials needed. You need to pass the exam and fill out all the paper work for the school district you would like to teach in. Then if they hire you they call you when they need a sub. You decide when you want to work. I recommend getting to know the schools that you want to teach in and connect with the staff and teachers. Knowing the layout of the schools, the principals, secretaries etc. will make your job easier. If you have any more questions please feel free to email me. Good Luck nicole
Most important skills as a sub:
Able to keep kids in classroom safe - this is the most important thing.
Tough skin - don't take anything personnally. AND if you can still teach the kids something once you have those two areas under control you will make a great sub!

It is fairly easy to get work as a sub without a credential. You will probably need:
to pass the CBEST
recent neg TB test
and probably a background check (usually livescan service at local PD, depends on the school)

If you have trouble with school districts (it took a long time for me to get Oakland to call me back - by the time they did I had a position through the end of the year at a charter school) try individual charter and private schools.

Feel free to email or call if you have questions or want more info re my experiences subbing and teaching w/o credential. Jessica


I have taught for five years in the Oakland Unified School District and know that we always need good substitute teachers. It is unnecessary to have a credential, but you must pass a test called the CBEST (name may have changed-they always do!). You must also have a TB test and experience with children.

To my knowledge, you can work any day of the week you'd like, or not at all. I believe that once you are in the system, you get calls for jobs at 5a.m. and you can decide wether or not to take the job.

Another option is to become familiar with a certain school and ask people to phone you personally. The advantage of this is getting to know the school, children, and staff, and no early morning calls. The disadvantage is that you'd probably get less work.

To be honest, as a classroom teacher, I think substitute teaching is very difficult. I am not tryoing to discourage you, but I feel I should be honest. Even the most organized teachers with well managed classrooms seem to fall apart when a sub arrives. Often there are no lesson plans, no keys to the bathroom, and no help from the rest of the staff. Of course, I can only speak for Oakland. Other districts may be different...

Please feel free to email me for more information. kris


You don't need a credential to sub--you need to pass the CBEST and get an emergency teaching credential. That involves fingerprinting, medical exam, other bureaocratic stuff. Sub Teaching in Oakland pays well, you can limit the days, select the schools, make teacher-friends at schools you like and ask them to request you. I've been a teacher for 10 years now and started out as a sub when I just needed some money. I loved it so much (imagine that--saying i LOVED subing!) that I got a credential, etc...There's plenty of work in Oakland. happy teacher
To substitute teach at public schools in CA, you need to pass the CBEST and then get an emergency credential. You'll need to get fingerprinted at some point, too, but let the districts tell you about that as they have different requirements. I don't think you will be allowed to sub without meeting those minimum requirements, but I could be wrong.

After that, you apply to individual districts, who put you on their sub lists. When the economy was booming, districts were desperate for subs. Now that the economy is not so great, that may have changed. You can definitely limit your work to certain schools, grades, days, etc, and you can always decline work. Different districts have different pay rates for subs, but it usually is somewhere around $100 a day.

In my opinion (I've been teaching 10 years and before that I was a sub myself) an effective substitute teacher has a sense of humor and good classroom management skills, and makes a real attempt to follow the lesson plans. Teachers don't like to come back and find their rooms out of order and their kids out of control. Coming back to corrected papers and lessons that have been completed is fantastic...it is really frustrating when subs decide that they're going to be ''cool'' in one way or another (playing games the whole time, show their own videos, or letting students have free time). Good luck! anon


If you are interested in subbing you should first think about what grade levels, there is a huge difference between the ages and grades.AS far as having/needing a credential, I think it depends on the district, I do know that you have to take the CBEST. Start by getting your resume together and contacting the HR departments in the district offices. I teach in Newark and I know they are one of the more lenient districts and are always looking for subs. Another suggestion is if you know anyone at any school, ask him/her about the district policies, we teachers love to help out, and knowing someone can't hurt.

You don't mention if you've ever subbed before...maybe you could sit in or help out at school to help you decide if it's really for you before you invest your time and money (CBEST). Good luck, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. ksschen


How to find a teacher job?

August 2003

I received California Preliminary Credential for Science Teaching a few days ago (I was a teacher in Korea). I want to get a teaching job in the east bay, maybe as a substitute at first. How can I start job search? I looked over edjoin.org, but not many jobs there (esp. around Berkeley) Are there many jobs? Any suggestion will be appeciated.


Call any and all school districts that you would like to work for. I am sure that they will be happy to put your name on their substitute list as science teachers are hard to find, let alone a substitute teacher that knows science. You might also volunteer to substitute in mathematics. David
There are still science postions in Berkeley! Call Longfellow and King Middle schools and Berkeley High and talk to the principals! Good luck. We need you. A science teacher in Berkeley
The best way to find a teacher job, in my own experience, is to call the districts where you'd like to work and talk to their Certificated Personnel person. I've never found any teacher job through listings, but there are a zillion if you ask the districts directly. anon

Thinking about Becoming a Teacher

July 2001

I'm interested in becoming a grade-school or high-school teacher but I really don't know where to begin or what it would be like. I've heard there is a high demand for teachers these days, and it seems like it would offer a good schedule for a working mom. Also, I am going to have to stop working on the computer as much as my present job demands. Any advice would be helpful, especially comments from teachers about what they like or don't like about their jobs.


Before I became a teacher, I slowly worked my way to the classroom. First I did some tutoring and I enjoyed that, but it was the best situation being one on one with the student. Next I tried substituting, which again will give you a flavor of teaching, but not the complete picture. By the way, substitutes are in higher demand than full-time teachers. With substituting you will get a real variety, from just "baby-sitting" the students and not really teaching, to actually getting to teach the students. The best part about substituting is that you get to go home and not have to grade any papers. Which brings me to the drawbacks of teaching. What most of the public sees is a teacher in a classroom, getting out at 3:00 and going home to relax. For me, the drawbacks of teaching is that it requires much more than a 40 hour week to do a good job. Grading papers and making lessons take a lot of time. Finally, we all know that teachers do not get paid well enough for the amount of work that they do and the importance of their work. If you are still interested, I suggest tutoring and/or substituting as a starting place. If you still like teaching, then get a credential at Cal State Hayward. David
I am responding to the anon. request regarding how to become a teacher and whether it is an enjoyable occupation. I am a high school teacher at a progressive independent school- I have also taught in public schools in the Bay Area. It is amazing, powerful, inspiring and exhausting work. Don't go into it thinking it will give you extra time- it won't, particularly in the first few years. Besides the time in school, you will have lesson planning, correcting, parent contact and administrative meetings. I don't say this to put you off, but to help you get a sense of what is involved. I really love what I do, and I am able to bring my two year old to work with me once a week so she is around these amazing kids that I work with. The questions and insights of my students push me into an ever closer examination of the literature and writing that I teach, as well as pushing me to examine my self and my relationship with the world around me. When you hit your groove as a teacher, it is a wild dance of learning and laughter. Sorry- I wax poetic. How to become a teacher: There are several options: The traditional route is to get a California State Teaching Credential (multi-subject for elementary, single subj. for high school). This will take approx. 2 years full time- and includes a battery of absurd tests and administrative B.S. It also includes a 4-6 month student teaching experience which is when you really start to learn. You don't learn how to teach by taking a class, no matter what anyone tells you. Many local colleges and universities offer credential programs- some tailored to working people/parents (is there a difference?) Other ways to become a teacher include internships in independent schools( you don't get a credential, but if you work in independent schools you may not need a credential- not that I am recommending working in an independent school, public schools need enthusiastic new teachers) or applying for an emergency credential while you are working in a school that desperately needs teachers. I would be glad to talk with you about this if you are interested. Toby
Teaching has pluses and minuses as a career for parents (I'm assuming you are a mom.) The plus is that you are on more or less the same schedule as your child. The minus is that during the school year the work is very emotionally intense and takes about 50 hours per week, some of which can be done at home. Teachers spend many hours preparing the classroom in the younger grades and grading papers in the upper grades. There is also work involving school administration and parents which usually takes place outside of the part of the day the students are there. The first few years can be difficult as you learn to structure curriculum and manage the classroom. I truly enjoy teaching -- I like observing how kids learn and I like making connections with them. Teaching is also a creative job, as you discover ways to make the curriculum accessible to all of your students. It's very hard work, and at times I fear that it takes some of the emotional energy that I might put into parenting. I strongly suggest that you try out teaching by substituting or volunteering regularly at a local school. I would also strongly advise you to do a full-time credential program that includes student teaching so you will be truly prepared. I've seen many of the people who attended the intern-type credential programs struggle with all the challenges of teaching in addition to being in school themselves. Try to learn more about teaching by spending more times in the schools before you make a final decision.
I have been a high school biology and environmental science teacher for the past five years. I had my daughter in September, and took the entire year off...and will probably not go back anytime soon.

I can honestly say that I loved my work but that it would be VERY difficult to be a teacher and parent at the same time. While the hours you are "at work" may be similar to the hours that your child is at school, your work and your obligations do not simply end there. Not only are teachers required to be there for the school day, but we are also supposed to be there for a specific amount of time before school begins and after it is over. Planning your curriculum, collaborating with other teachers and grading papers take A LOT of time, usually outside of school hours. There are also staff meetings, curriculum development sessions, professional development classes and parent meetings that require our attendance. At the high school that I taught, we were also required to attend a certain number of extra curricular activities a year, such as athletic events or drama productions. I am not complaining, please don't misunderstand where I am coming from. I just want you to be aware that if your children are of an age where they need (or want!) you, they might find your time in short supply.

Saying that, teaching can be a wonderfully rewarding career. Your motivation needs to come from having the desire to help children by enriching their lives. You will probably not be thanked very often (similar to being a parent, I suppose!), but you will feel tremendous when you see your students brighten!

There are some wonderful credential programs in the bay area, including Dominican University in San Rafael and Mills in Oakland. Science and Math teachers are in particularly short supply.

Best wishes, Michelle


I love being a teacher and have been one for since 1988. It is an extremely creative and rewarding career. You could call Hayward State--they offer an internship program where you can work part-time while taking classes. You could also do the more traditional route of classes and student teaching (without pay of course). Many schools in the Bay Area offer credentials: the most inexpensive way to go is SF State or Hayward but Mills and St. Mary's and possible Holy Names offer credential programs. You may need to take some prerequisites, take the CBEST test and there are a whole host of other credentialing requirements that I don't know about since they have changed since I got my credential. There is a definite demand for teachers now, especially in certain subject matter. You probably wouldn't have difficulty finding a job. However, I caution you to reconsider teaching if you think it will be an easy job or just a 7 hour a day job. Although the teaching day is around 7 hours, the work doesn't end there. There are many papers to correct, lessons to plan, parents to call, etc. The first few years, especially, are very challenging and require a lot of commitment as you learn about classroom management, your subject matter, etc. KC
My background: I have taught in public and private schools, and am currently an educational researcher involved in issues of teacher development and teachers' work. I am speaking here informally, though, just trying to address your question.

I would suggest you spend a day "shadowing" a teacher you know, whether it is a teacher-friend or your child's teacher. You could offer to spend a day with him or her, in exchange for some kind of assistance (such as working with a group of students, grading papers, preparing materials for an activity). That would give you a teacher's eye view of a school day.

People often do not realize the amount of work that goes into teaching. A recent study found that 1/3 of the work that elementary teachers do is unpaid (meaning outside of school hours/contracted time). If you teach elementary school, most of the outside work goes into preparing and planning the activities in your classroom. If you teach high school, most of that work is in grading papers. (Of course, elementary teachers grade and high school teachers plan too!) Both elementary and high school teachers also spend time doing things beyond what they are contracted to do: tutoring kids individually, holding extra parent conferences to address issues of discipline, making phone calls home, following up with counselors or principals on various issues, attending meetings after school, professional development workshops, etc.

This is not to dissuade you from entering this noble and rewarding profession. But definitely enter it with your eyes open. You should also try to figure out what environment might suit you as a teacher, as different schools offer different kinds of work environments. The most obvious is the difference between high school and grade school. Do you enjoy working with adolescents or do you prefer young children? Are you passionate about a particular subject matter? Or would you prefer the challenge of teaching a variety of subjects in a self-contained elementary classroom? Does it appeal to you to develop relationships with about 100 to 200 young people each year (h.s.), or would you prefer to work with around 20 to 30? In addition, different schools have different teacher work cultures. Some are very collaborative, where teachers are expected to share ideas (lessons, assessments, discipline strategies, etc), while others are more individualistic. Some have a teacher work culture that is about the academic identities of the teachers; some teachers are about social justice through education (these are not mutually exclusive categories, of course... just trying to give you "flavors"). And while the pay is often better in affluent public schools, the work culture (and the student culture) may not be, so don't make a decision about where you'd want to work based on test scores.

Of course, independent schools do not necessarily require credentials. But they often look for academic pedigrees. They tend to pay less than public schools, but in turn teachers in independent schools have fewer students, more planning time built into the school day, and fewer extreme discipline problems in their classrooms. You might look up an independent school teacher placement service like Independent Educational Services (http://www.ies-search.org/) if you think this might suit you.

I obviously could go on at length about this topic. I hope this gives a helpful start. Good luck! Ilana


You could contact a university directly about the credential program but it would probably be more useful to contact your local school district, or a nearby district in which you would like to work. The ditrict would be able to give you more information on salary, benefits, work conditions etc. Since there is such a demand for teachers, the districts are usually anxious to helpg you go about getting your credential. If you're trying to juggle this with being a parent I would recommend seeking a job as close to home and your children's school as possible. Also, if having time for your children is a big concern you might want to look for a part-time or job share arrangement assuming you can afford to do this.

It can be very rewarding but also challenging. There are a fair number who try it and don't stick with it. I would recommend you get into different classrooms to observe a bit before you commit to a career change, and remember the job openings may be in the more challenging schools; keep this in mind when you select the schools you are going to visit. I think a lot of people who quit envisioned something very different than what they found; you have to go into with an open mind, ready to work hard and be flexible. Email if you want to talk further. Betty


Becoming a Reading Specialist

Dec 2002

I am considering becoming a Reading Specialist but want to know more about the field , both in terms of types of jobs availalbe in this field, schooling and experience necessary and salary range. I have extensive background in teaching adult literacy and ESL to adults so am hoping this would build on my experience, though I realize it would be different to apply my skills to elementary or/ and high school education. Does one have to have taught in the public schools to beome a Reading Specialist? I am not interested in becoming a classroom teacher, but would like to do primarily staff development / training with teachers and do some classroom teaching. Where does Special Education fit into this? I would appreciate any advice on how to pursue this career path. Thanks! anonymous


I was sorry to see no responses to this in the last newsletter, as I was looking forward to them. I have just read the most amazing book: Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It. The author, who has done a great deal of her own research and thoroughly reviewed others' research on reading has developed a way to teach reading that she says is 100% successful (they emptied Special Ed rooms). Her son and daughter-in-law made a program based on her ideas called Phono-Graphix. You can find out about Certification on their website http://www.readamerica.net The book has a forward by Steven Pinker,in which he says, ''Why Our CHildren Can't REad is one of the most important books of the decade. REad it for your own pleasure and enlightenment, and buy copies fo rthe people in control of your children's education.'' I found it both very enjoyable to read and enlightening. I am working with my own 4-year-old and my neighbor's 5th grader (remedial) using the program and I am very happy with the results (I should note that the stories are idiotic and the illustrations awful, but they are really beside the point). The book was absolutely clairvoyant with regards to the reading problems of the child next door. It described a typical pattern of kids who do ok in 1st grade, then fail 2nd grade and then slip farther and farther behind and become more and more humiliated and lost by reading failure and end up being labelled ADD and on medication and never really learn to read. This kid fits the bill perfectly: she failed 2nd grade and her mom came to me when the teacher suggested she be evaluated for ADD. I am sure she has no attention deficit, she just can't read well enough to do her work, even math (which she has a natural aptitude for). The diagnostic tests were amazing, because on first sight you wouldn't even guess that she had serious reading problems (I knew because I had heard her try to read out loud to my daughters and I could tell that she was guessing at words and not comprehending what she was reading). I was surprised that she could read every word on the common words list and even more surprised that she could read not one of the nonsense words, in other words, she had sight-memorized just about every word she knew and was unable to figure out new words. THis was despite the fact taht she knew most of the easy letter/sound correspondences: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z and even sh ch th, but when it came to wh ai ea ei ie oi oy ough eigh oa oe she was lost. THe most amazing thing about the program is that they say that they turn non-readers into grade-level readers in 12 weeks (or 6 days of intensive sessions!!) Costco has been training reading specialists in the program http://www.readamerica.net/Page2.asp I hope some others will post about their experiences as reading specialists. I am just and interested mother and neighbor (so far). susan

Health Benefits for Part-Time Teachers

August 2004

I just accepted a part time teaching position in a public school. It's a 40% position. I was told that I would get 40% benefits. When inquiring what my portion of the payments would be, I was told that $1000 would be deducted from my check every month. This is $200 more than what I currently pay and I pay for 100% of my health insurance. This doesn't seem right. I'm hoping that there are some other subscribers who also teach part time and can tell me if this seems off. I thought that if my district is paying 40% that it would that much less than what I currently pay. Don't large organizations get breaks on the insurance costs? Second question - Has anyone ever negotiated their contract with a school district if they've chosen not to take the benefits offered? It would be a savings for the district not to have to pay for my health insurance. Wouldn't it make sense that they'd pay me the difference, or part of the difference? Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you... frustrated with benefits


I am a health insurance broker who helps individuals, families and small buinesses find health plans tailored to their needs and I just met a woman yesterday also working part-time for a public school. She was offered the choice of buying her own policy or paying a pro-rated cost of her benefits in the group plan. She discovered that it was much more beneficial to her to buy her own policy. The decision is always individual, but you might consider looking into an individual policy. Small business plans are always more expensive than individual plans. And, every employer gets to determine certain specs for who's covered (domestic partners or not, part-time employess or not, etc). I don't know what district you're in but if you're interested in looking at an individual policy, give me a call. Denise Lombard, Health Insurance Specialist 510-530-8086
First of all, let me say I'm sorry!! Depending on the district, teaching part time can mean that your benefits cost a lot--I've been there!! It really doesn't seem right, but that's the way it works a lot of places. It doesn't surprise me at all that your benefits are so expensive. What I've found is that rules about benefits are totally dependent on the district. Some districts (Alameda and others) will let you have some money back each month if you opt not to take their benefits...not the full cost of the benefits, but still, some money. Other districts (Fremont, Pleasanton) tie benefits into the salary, so employees appear to make more than those in other districts, but must buy insurance on their own unless they are covered by a spouse or partner. Still other districts (Oakland, Piedmont) do not give employees any money back if they opt not to take the district insurance, even though, as you point out, it would likely save them money. So, not knowing which district you will be working for, it is hard to know exactly what you are dealing with. Have you read your contract? It is probably online and should spell out how your your particular district deals with benefits.

One option is to go with the cheapest plan (usually Kaiser). Then you will probably pay less than if you opt for another plan, such as Health Net.

If you do opt to take the district benefits, you can have them paid for with pre-tax money. Talk to someone in payroll about this--it will save you money. Also, you might want to see if you can set up a reimbursable account for medical expenses such as prescriptions and co-pays through your district...this is where you have a certain amount of money deducted from you check each month pre-tax, but then submit receipts and get the money back. (There is also a way to do this for child care expenses--same process, different account.)

Another thought is seeing if you can increase your working time to 50% or 60%. Then you will make more and (again, depending on where you will be working) your benefits cost will be less (you might be responsible for 50% or 40% instead of 60%). This really makes a big difference in some cases!

As far as negotiating individually with the district, I don't think this would be possible. If the district DID negotiate a special deal with you, it would most likely be in violation of the contract negotiated by your union. Good Luck! A Part Time Teacher Too


Hi. I'm also starting a 40% public school teaching job this year. I've been paying for my own Kaiser benefits while on a year of leave from my previous job. In my new district, I'll have to pay about $550 per month (for my family of 3) to cover the 60% of benefits not covered by the district. This is very comparable to what I'm paying now for my own family plan with Kaiser. However, the plan I will be now under will have much lower co-pays, include more services, include vision/chiropractic care/etc., and include Delta Dental as well. I'm not sure why your cost should be so high! Feel free to e-mail me if you want to discuss this situation further... Jen

Teacher wanting a new career

March 2004

There was a really similar question in the last post, and I'd been thinking of asking it myself ina more general way.

I'd love to hear from any former teachers who've made a career change. What did you teach? What do you do now? Do you enjoy it? What, if anything, do you miss about teaching? How did you figure out what you wanted to do next? How hard was it to make the transition?

I love teaching (the creativity, the kids, helping adolescents love literature and writing) but am considering a career change for a variety of reasons. exploring other options


I hear ya! I taught for 9 years and loved most of it but couldn't stomach the lack of resources available. I felt my hands were tied, feet bound and I was asked to do my job. I saw myself becoming angry (more and more angry) at the political situation. After a LONG search, I decided to become a speech pathologist. I can still work with kids in public schools one on one or in small groups. The down side is it's a 4 year program at SF State or Hayward State. The good thing is I can still work with kids--- or if all services are cut for kids, this is a definate growth field. Good LUCK

From teaching to what?

March 2004

Hi, Are there any ex-teachers out there that have found a second career that they love? My circumstances are changing and I am looking at a career change. I love elementary aged kids, books, flexible schedule, chance to be creative, nature, movement and collaboration. I speak Spanish. Anybody have any ideas? Needs a change


It sounds like you would make an excellent children's librarian. Check out the program at San Jose State. Much of it can be done over the internet. Susan
Look into occupational therapy! You can work with kids (or any other age, if you feel like a change sometime), in a variety of settings - schools, hospitals, rehabilitations centers, home- based early intervention services, private practice clinics, ....

The work hours are often very flexible, great for working parents, and the pay, while variable, can be decent. Depending on the particular work place, ther is often lots of opportunity for creativity.

Entry level training is a bachelor's (or entry-level master's) degree. There is also Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant which requires just an associate degree. The pay is a little less, and you have to be officially supervised by an O.T., but the variety and flexibility are similar. R.K.


Hi, I taught high school for 5 years before my kids came along, and mostly loved it. I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with my kids, but started to have a craving to do something professional again. I wanted to have my own business, so that I could do as much or as little as I wanted, when it was suitable for my family.

I was shocked to find that all of my needs were met by becoming a consultant with The Pampered Chef. Because I run my own business, I can be creative. I am teaching people how to make their time in the kitchen faster and easier, so I am still using all of my teaching and personal skills. I have also expanded into teaching cooking classes for children, which makes me feel REALLY good. I am part of a larger team, so there is lots of training and collaboration opportunities available. That works well for me, because I don't like to ''re-invent the wheel.'' The Pampered Chef also has some extra incentives for consultants who speak Spanish...

Being my own boss is the best thing that I could imagine. If you are self motivated, running your own business might be something that you would enjoy. Maybe you could begin tutoring children? From your interests, it seems like you would enjoy some of the interpretive work at some of the East Bay Regional Parks. They have lots of wonderful programs for children to learn about environmental education.

Hope these ideas help... if you want to learn more about what I do, please visit my websites: http://www.pamperedchef.biz/michellestern http://www.whatscooking.info Michelle


Have you ever considered working in museum education? We can always use people with classroom experience and a good working knowledge of kids' developmental and educational needs at different ages. Museums have all different kinds of focuses (foci?), so you should have no problem finding one that meets your interest, be it art, science, history, environmental education, zoos, or children's museums, and we have tons of all of them in the Bay Area. If you're interested in pursuing this, I'd be happy to talk with you. Also, there's an organization called Cultural Connections which sponsors periodic get-togethers of local museum educators; the next one is on April 14 at the Headlands in Marin. You can get information on their website, www.cultural- connections.org (yes, the hyphen is part of the URL). If you want to take another route, you could consider educational research. I know someone who went from the classroom to WestEd a number of years ago and has been very happy. Good luck with your decision. Lauren

Need to work while attending Credential Program

2001

I am 50 years old, Masters degree,twenty years in the corporate training world, and now I want to satisfy my search for greater meaning by becoming a grade 3-6 elementary school teacher. I am trying to find a good credential program that doesn't take more than a year and which enables me to either work (paid as a teacher) during the credential program or work at my old job (classes, student teaching after work/weekends). I can't afford to have no income for a year as main breadwinner for my family. I also want to start as soon as possible. I've discovered JFK, Holy Names, and St. Mary's as possibilities and wondered if any one has experience with and can recommend these schools and their programs. How are they in the educational community? Which has the best education/internship/mentor program? Etc, etc. Christine


mid-life teacher credentials programs: The New College of California, on 17th & Valencia in s.f. (in the mission, easily accessible by BART) also has a one year (with a summer) credential program. My husband and I both earned our credentials there five or six years ago. The program itself was & is quirky, and intensive, but it was worth it for us--I worked full time throughout, and he taught in a classroom while getting his credential. If you want more info, please email me Jessica
I have another college option for you: Bethany College in Scotts Valley (near Santa Cruz), CA. They have a one-year weekend Teacher Credentialing Program (TCP) that meets the State's Requirements for a California State Teaching Credential. I must point out that they are a Christian College (if that makes any difference to you). I don't believe the weekend TCP requires any Bible courses, though -- as far as I know, you only take the courses required by the State of California to receive your Credential at Bethany's TCP. You may want to double-check that, however. If you're interested, Bethany's phone number is 1 (631) 438-3800 and the Teacher Credentialing Analyist's extension (Dr. Marilyn Abplanalp) is x1527. April
To Christine who inquired about teacher credential programs for a person making a mid-life career change: This year I investigated the same idea and now I have been admitted to a one-year credential program at San Francisco State University and will start school there in the fall. SF State has several credential programs, and one of them might work for you. However, it is very difficult to complete the work in one year while working another job. Most programs seem to take a little longer or require you to quit working or cut back on work hours. I also checked out St. Mary's, and they were supernice, are very flexible, seemed to have good classes, but the fees are high. You may want to consider an internship program (like Cal PIP offered through UC Extension or others offered through Cal State Hayward). Good luck to you! Betsy
Cal State Hayward is worth a look too. It is inexpensive ($600 per quarter), and you will be done in one year. You can work as a teacher in several different ways and be paid for your student teaching. Personally, I worked in a private school where I had a lovely teaching situation and got all my student teaching done except for 1 month part time in public summer school. I've also seen people teach in the public schools in a special partnership between certain school districts and Cal State Hayward. You may not feel quite as nurtured as at Holy Names, etc, but not having any student loans to pay at the end feels pretty great, and the education is delivered quite competently at CSUH. --a satisfied alumna lee
You might also want to check into the San Francisco State credentialing program. It is designed for working people (and will help you arrange teacher placement if that is what you want). I think it is very reasonably priced. Specifically, ask about the Bay Area Teacher's Center option. SFS has been working with two schools (Head-Royce in Oakland and Lick Wilmerding in SF) to provide credential programs that don't require you to take all your classes at the SFS campus. Instead these programs are based in "real" schools and designed to be practical. I don't know if they do elementary credentials, but they might. Try calling Lily N ing at 415-333-4021 ext. 236. She is head of the Bay Area Teachers' Center and would be a good person to talk to. Stevie
July 2001

(From the discussion "Thinking about Becoming a Teacher" ...

There are some wonderful credential programs in the bay area, including Dominican University in San Rafael and Mills in Oakland. Science and Math teachers are in particularly short supply. Michelle


The teacher shortage that you speak of has created a lot of different ways to enter the profession. Some programs allow you to work in a classroom right away on an emergency credential while you complete your course work (I believe CSU Hayward, SFSU, and Holy Names College all have programs like these). There are also tuition grants available if you commit to teaching a certain number of years in low-performing schools, which makes more traditional credential programs accessible to more people. You can contact UCB's Graduate School of Education for that info (http://www-gse.berkeley.edu/). Ilana
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