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Old 04-24-19, 04:31 AM
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Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...

I have a dilemma so please bear with me because this is long and emotionally charged. I have a BA in Eng Lit with a concentration in multiethnic lit. I graduated in '98 after I was married and had my first kid. I had always had mental health issues(bipolar, etc) and with each kid it got worse until I was nonfunctional and agoraphobic. I went on disability 12 years ago. I have made remarkable improvements and tossed around the idea of trying to do something with my life.

This past fall I enrolled in an into to teaching course. My plan was to go the alternate track for teaching over a period of 2 years and become a high school english teacher but my son had a stroke in November and I had to drop the course. The thing is I am very passionate about multiethnic literature and how underserved the minority community is when it comes to literature that is relative to their experiences. I saved all my papers and all the handouts and literature I studied in college in hopes of one day using it in some sort of profession. I personally feel that many school districts study Huckleberry Finn and then that is their section on ethnic literature-the rest is "text book" curriculum. I have all these ideas for how to revamp the school curriculum and for how I would like to open the eyes of students- make them "woke".

But I was thinking recently. Do I want to go for two years with a tract geared towards teaching a curriculum where I will most likely have to fall in line and will have to bend to a districts' ways in order to have a job or do I want to go further? The alternate track will leave me one or two semesters shy of my masters. I have been researching masters' degrees and it would take about the same amount of time and I feel like the freedom to tailor a curriculum might be more likely. I would be dealing with adults who pay to attend and who would choose to be in my classes. The masters program I am looking at is suited to set someone up to teach at the community college level and possibly go for their PHD while doing that. It costs more with job prospects being not as secure.

I could become certified to teach high school and it wouldn't be horrible but I do not think I would have the freedom I want. But the job would be good with good pay, possibility of tenure and benefits. And I would still be making an impression on young adults. But the master's idea is equally appealing because beyond the basics I would have more flexibility to pursue a passion. I would like to affect change and make a difference either way. I just do not know what to do. The masters program would cost more but either way I would have student loans to repay.

What would you all do? I do not think I would be miserable as a high school teacher and everything would be more secure but would I be happy? I am not sure.
I do not know if I should go for happiness purely or practicality. I did apply to be a sub teacher through a teacher staffing sight so I am waiting to hear back from them but that is mainly to earn extra money and get my feet wet. Any suggestions? How does one decide what's more important. I could be in the work force sooner as a HS teacher but that's not to say I wouldnt make it as a college adjunct. I am just very confused. Of course I could always get my teaching certificate and maybe pursue a masters while doing that but once settled somewhere I do not know if I would be willing to switch tracks.
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Old 04-24-19, 01:39 PM
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Re: Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
I could become certified to teach high school and it wouldn't be horrible but I do not think I would have the freedom I want. But the job would be good with good pay, possibility of tenure and benefits. And I would still be making an impression on young adults. But the master's idea is equally appealing because beyond the basics I would have more flexibility to pursue a passion. I would like to affect change and make a difference either way. I just do not know what to do. The masters program would cost more but either way I would have student loans to repay.

What would you all do? I do not think I would be miserable as a high school teacher and everything would be more secure but would I be happy? I am not sure.
I do not know if I should go for happiness purely or practicality. I did apply to be a sub teacher through a teacher staffing sight so I am waiting to hear back from them but that is mainly to earn extra money and get my feet wet. Any suggestions? How does one decide what's more important. I could be in the work force sooner as a HS teacher but that's not to say I wouldnt make it as a college adjunct. I am just very confused. Of course I could always get my teaching certificate and maybe pursue a masters while doing that but once settled somewhere I do not know if I would be willing to switch tracks.
This is exciting, huh?! I'm excited to see you feeling ready and rarin' to do this, anyway!

That said, I would advise you not to take on debt in order to pursue a degree with the hope of getting a job as a community college adjunct.

Adjunct pay tends to be truly terrible (on the order of $3000 for a whole semester course with 20-40 students), and few part-time adjunct jobs come with benefits. (But it may be enough to render you ineligible for disability benefits -- you may want to check the thresholds.) And many (most?) of the adjunct teaching jobs in English are in composition rather than in literature.

I would suggest going the high school teaching route if you will need the income -- which you likely will if you're going to need to take out loans to finance the degree.

Is there a two-birds-with-one-stone option to pursue a master's degree while getting certified to teach high school? Or does NJ have any alternative/expedited credentialing programs available to those with a master's?

If you end up focusing on high school teaching certification now, you can always go back for a master's in the future. Doing so can sometimes help you get a raise as a secondary teacher (in addition to feeding your interests).

And there may be opportunities to do what you want to do (in terms of expanding kids' horizons in a way that's less constrained) at the high school level. There has been growing movement (at least in some districts) to diversify the curriculum/canon, and you could be involved in those efforts, and/or advise extracurricular groups.

Finally, does NJ Voc Rehab offer any support (financial or otherwise) to people with disabilities looking to join / re-enter employment? Might be worth looking into if you haven't already.

Keep us posted!
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Old 05-02-19, 06:39 AM
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Re: Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...



N really covered most of the bases with her response. I've done the adjunct thing out of necessity rather than choice. It's hard to get jobs, and it's hard to keep them.

I taught at a community college for one semester (only one class). I got the job in late July. I emailed the coordinator a question about my syllabus in August, and he wasn't sure my section was even going to be taught due to low enrollment! It did and was a good experience. I got pretty good evaluations, but was not hired for the following semester anyways. (I'm not always good at following up, but my distinct impression was that enrollment fell so they didn't need as many instructors).

That said, if you can get a full-time position at a community college, or you have network opportunities through your degree program, you might have more success than I did.

I currently work as an instructional assistant in a high school supporting students with IEPs in classrooms. I work in multiple classes at multiple levels of instruction. I'm rarely bored, and I don't have the grading or meetings that teachers do.
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Old 05-02-19, 10:54 AM
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Re: Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...

You probably are more knowledgeable in this topic than I am, but I would hope that at least some high schools would be open to allowing their teachers to design their own curriculum? Maybe it's on a spectrum?
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Old 05-03-19, 05:10 AM
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Re: Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...

I've decided to get my feet wet a little. My school district does "in house " subs not a sub company and I have an interview at 10! I had to make a resume-god help me I did the best I could considering I have been home with the kids for 15 years. I did get references together and I went an bought an interview outfit- nothing too formal I went to goodwill and got a skirt with some purple in it and a muted purple top(of course its purple) and some black flats. I have lots of sundresses because thats all I wear in the summer but a lot of them are sleeveless or backless and I thought they would be a little to risque or casual. You only need 60 credits to sub and I have a BA so I am not worried about that part. I had gotten finger printed over 20 years ago and have no proof of that so I suspect I will have to do it again. I am hoping this will at least give me a tasted of what dealing with school kids will be like to help with my decision although I am still leaning towards my masters.
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Old 05-03-19, 05:47 AM
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Re: Dilemma with what I want to do when I grow up...

What do you currently do? It seems to me like you really don't want to teach high school as a career after reading your post but that's just my first impressions. Highschool curriculum (education in general) are rigid and take a very long time to update/catch up.
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