2nd Thoughts

and 3rd and 4th…about going to teacher’s college.

I keep wondering if it’s really the best decision to go back to school in the Fall to get a degree to be able to teach at the K-12 level (requirement in Canada to do so).

Yes, I’m excited to do it, and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for many years. It’s really my last chance to go – it’s the last year it’s a one-year program (I am SO not doing 2 years of school, for time and financial reasons), I applied* and got in, we have the financial ability to allow for it, and I feel like the last few years of being in science education & outreach has led up to this.

But…

so many Buts.

The biggest is financial.  It will cost us anywhere from 60-80% of our savings to cover tuition and the difference between DH’s salary and our monthly bills for 8-12 months (the program runs Sept. – May, but could be until the following Sept. to find work (hopefully)). Is it selfish of me to put that kind of financial strain on our family?

The hope is, in the long run, it will be worth it. Teachers here make a very decent salary, with great benefits, and awesome vacation time. As well, of course, as making a different in so many lives! So, if I can find work relatively quickly, it will pay off.

But, what if I don’t find work as a teacher (as many people are finding themselves in that position lately)? Are we just throwing that money down the toilet? Then I’d be back to square-one…no job and less money…and then what?

Maybe, instead, I should just find a job that I’m qualified for right now. No, it probably won’t be a dream job. Perhaps that was something I should have considered a few years back (definitely not happy with some decisions I made), but now the needs of my family should outweigh my career desires. If I got a job, we wouldn’t have to worry about paying for childcare, vacations, or renovations that we’d like to do.

Another But is the timing — School would start in the Fall, and Evan will be starting kindergarten, and Carter will not even be a year old. I feel like I should be there for the kids during these times of transition. I wonder if I should consider staying at home for a few years until both kids are in school full time before pursuing a different career (though I know I’d find a hard time going to school if it’s a 2-year program).

I keep flip flopping back and forth, and don’t know which way to go. Do I take the path I’ve wanted for years, and put us in not-so-great position financially for the (hopefully) short term? Or do I forget about that path, and focus on reality and find suitable work now? Or completely give up on working for now and stay at home to support our children in their early years (which won’t last forever)?

Oh, great blogosphere, what would you do?

*While in the hospital after my stroke…if that doesn’t prove my dedication/desire to do this, I don’t know what does.

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Comments on: "2nd Thoughts" (28)

  1. Anonymous said:

    How is the job situation for science teachers in Canada? In the United States, there is a shortage of science teachers, especially for physics. Even if overall teachers are having a hard time finding jobs, if Canada is like the US, a physics teacher should be in high demand.

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  2. Sounds like you are just having cold feet. I often do before I jump into something I have wanted for a while, and now that it's finally about to materialize I find I want to pull back. But I know that about myself so I usually push through and generally don't regret it (because, after all, I have wanted it for some time).

    You have wanted this for so long, now is the time to do it, of course you are not selfish and the kids will be fine, I promise. Just do it. You won't regret it! In fact, I think if you don't do it you will soon start kicking yourself. It's just a year and potential for the life and employment you have always wanted.

    Good luck!!!

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  3. If you have had a long term desire to teach, go for it. If you don't, you'll always wonder whether you could have done it. Maybe you are a better person than I am, but that wonder would seep into every moment when I wasn't happy in my work, and make me bitter and unhappy… and bitter and unhappy is no way to be- for yourself OR for your family. You aren't being selfish trying to reach for a dream, especially since it does not even require you to take on debt to try!

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  4. There's always going to be a transition going on in one way or another. Are there statistics, perhaps even from this teacher's college, on their placement rates in permanent jobs by time-out-of-school? Or from the regional government? Having that info might help the financial hit seem worse. Most people take out huge loans for this kind of education – so the savings, while depressing to lose, is probably better in the long run than paying all that interest.

    I say if you really want to stay home more than anything, do it. But it sounds more like you really want to go to teacher's college, and are just apprehensive about all the branching what-ifs at the end of it. I think you're smart and motivated and will find a great job teaching!

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  5. Financial bit seem BETTER! BETTER! Sorry.

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  6. My husband is also a student at the moment, plus new baby, plus whatever else – I think the age-old advice that it's never a perfect time to do things is very true. I understand your second guesses, but also consider how you'll see this 5-10 years from now. As I like to tell my husband when he is having these types of second thoughts, you having a fulfilling career is good for your family in the long-run, even if it costs you a little bit in the short term. And I don't want him to be bitter at me or the kiddo later on if he's in a job he hates and can't do anything about it because he did what was easier now.

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  7. Anonymous said:

    I have read your blog for a long time, but never commented. I just did something similar. I am a chemist in the US and just left my postdoc and went through a program to get my HS teaching certification. I started the program 6 weeks after my first baby was born. It was hard but I made it through with the support of my DH.

    After being on the job market, I can say that having a PhD is (in the US) a very attractive thing to the high schools I applied to. In addition, based on the way your write and the fact that you have a PhD and have done a lot of communications-based things, you will kick ass while interviewing.

    I finished my student teaching not too long ago, and it was a blast! It was difficult and a lot of work, but I really enjoyed the students, and it was so gratifying to see a struggling student finally get it!

    On top of that, I just got my dream job offer, and will be getting paid not too much less than if I was starting as a new professor on the tenure track at a big state school, and more than if I was at a respectable, but not prestigious small liberal arts college. And I'll be having a lot more fun, and (hopefully) making more of a difference.

    Good luck making your decision, it's not an easy one. No matter what you do, (find a new job or do this) you will have mommy guilt about something, so I'd say to choose what will leave you with less what-if-ness in the future.

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  8. Part of me wants to tell you to just jump in and do what you're dreaming of doing. Another part of me though totally gets your fears and being that I am a stay at home mom, and about to be a home schooling mom, I do feel family should be put first no matter what we wanted. Whatever you choose I am sure that it will be the right choice.

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  9. Your concerns about being able to find a teaching position in Ontario (and particularly one in your home city which would be pretty necessary with 2 little ones) are very valid. I know a number of graduates who had to wait over a year just to get on a supply list. They will have to supply for at least a year to have the potential to get a Long term contract position and then the hope is eventually one of those will turn into a job. The only teachers in high demand appear to be those who have fluent french and music teachers are also needed.

    Also, teaching in Ontario these days is not a 9-3 job with weekends off anymore. There are so many “additional tasks” put on teachers to evaluate the students and get them up to speed. Class sizes are large and there are a LOT of special needs children to cope with.
    So I guess the question is what do you think teaching will be like? Maybe ask to sit in on a few classrooms in your community and ask the teachers some questions to get a better understanding of what the role is like today.
    Alternatively, if you just enjoy teaching science to kids. there's a group called, “mad science” that is always looking for staff who have a science background to tutor and run camps etc. No idea how well they pay but worth looking into if you like the elementary ages.

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  10. It's better than for english/history teachers, but still not great.

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  11. Yes, you're totally right — this is something I do before I start anything new. I just step back and re-evaluate things, and second guess decisions.

    I need to think that the “worst” that can happen is I go, we spend the money, and I don't get a teaching job, but end up doing something else (which is what would happen if I went to find work now). That's pretty good!

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  12. Yes – every time I think about applying to a job, I just think “it's NOT teaching”.. and “this isn't what I want to spend my time doing”.

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  13. Yes, tons of date, and I am familiar with a lot of it. 30% of all people who get BEd's in this province don't find work as a teacher. Most new teachers have to go on supply lists for 1-2 years before even being able to apply for long term occasional positions (like covering a maternity leave, for example). And 5-7 years on average to get a permanent job..

    Lots of things to consider, but that's not really what's holding me back right now. I'm familiar with all the pitfalls of being a teacher in Ontario, but would be prepared to “serve my time” if it meant I could do it.

    That being said, even supply teachers get paid very well (you get paid the same hourly rate as if you had a permanent job, and they base your salary on your qualifications, of which I have a LOT MORE than others, having BSC, MSC, PhD, loads of classroom experience, etc.).

    I sure the heck don't want to be a stay at home mom…It's something I know I can't do and wouldn't be good for me or my kids. Not even sure why I put that out there (rather than the mom guilty thing)

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  14. Don't really understand what your second comment means.

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  15. Thank you for this! I hope your husband is enjoying his program!

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  16. Good for you for getting your certification, and congrats on getting such an amazing job offer!!!

    YAY FOR POSITIVE STORIES!!! I think a lot of people get caught up in the negatives sometimes when telling their story, and it's hard not to focus on those stories.

    Glad you found it was a blast! I'm really looking forward to actually ENJOYING school classes and projects!

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  17. Like I mentioned in an above comment, I think for me to be happy, and to be the best mom I can be, I need to be out of the house and doing something that's for me. I know that about myself, so not really sure I wrote about it in this post other than mommy guilt.

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  18. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I'm well aware of the state of the teaching profession in Ontario. I know the stats, and how hard it can be.

    I have many friends who are teachers, and worked very closely with many over the past few years. My previous job had me in 100s of classrooms, and I feel prepared for that side of the profession. I know how hard teachers work, and never thought it'd be an easy job. But, I do know that benefits are still really great (in talking with many teachers who actually LIKE their jobs — that always makes a difference too! LOL!)

    As for mad science – yes, I'm familiar with them and similar groups like Scientists in Classrooms, Let's Talk Science, and others. That's very much what my job entailed the past 3 years (full time) and many years before that (part time). As much as I enjoyed it, it wasn't enough. I don't like parachuting in and leaving a class, and only interacting with a group once or twice. I crave the continuity with a class that teaching gives. It's just more influential that way.

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  19. So, my question isn't whether I want to become a teacher (though there are many factors to consider there too, as you mentioned, but I've already made that decision).

    I'm more asking is it financially worth it to go to school for a year to do something I've wanted to for years, then HOPEFULLY find work as a teacher, or to just give up on that and find a job now on another path?

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  20. OH, never mind, I get it!! 😀 You were correcting yourself

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  21. Still! It sounds like a great permanent job. And perhaps your extra qualifications will boost you above the rest of the new grads a little- one can hope! I say if you and your family are prepared for a few years of belt-tightening (we've been there and it sucked BUT was worth it to achieve our goals), then this is a great idea.

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  22. Another voice chiming in to say GO FOR IT. You've written a lot about this which means you've thought about it TONS. You know what it entails. You applied and got in and you will do great. Even if you don't get a job teaching right away, your qualifications are set—and it only takes a year! You may not be able to find a good job in your current field, either, right? And like Cloud said, even if you do, you may continue to be unhappy and wistful about teaching and then you'd have to quit THAT job and go to school for TWO years. GO FOR IT!!!

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  23. and obv. the kids will be fine. great. thriving and flourishing. regardless of what you do, because thats how they are.

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  24. Anonymous said:

    I am a physics teacher in a large metropolitan area in the US so I'm not sure how my situation compares to yours in Ontario. However, I think you should consider that those employment statics are likely based mostly on brand new college grads with no prior work experience. You have the advantage that you are more mature, have proven yourself in the workplace and have a PhD. I think you just have to be clever and confident about how you market yourself and you will find that schools will be interested in you.

    I've had a similar path to yours. After getting my PhD in physics and doing some adjunct work I did an accelerated certification program. It was a scary and expensive choice to make, especially with a baby at home. However, I found that my background was appealing to many schools. I got several interviews during the summer while finishing the program and had two offers months before the start of the school year (not the absolute best schools in the area but much closer to the top that the bottom). Just finished my 2nd year on the job and I love it. It is a lot of work but very rewarding. In my case I the financial risk payed off.

    I wish you the best of luck whatever you choose to do.

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  25. You're so right!

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  26. Thank you for this!! They will do awesome regardless!

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and glad to hear it has been awesome for you! And you're so right that my additional qualifications will definitely set me apart from my classmates!

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  28. That's totally understandable and I didn't at all mean to add in any mommy guilt. I never thought I'd be a mom happy at home either. I think knowing that about ourselves is very important and the most important thing is to just be the best mom you can, no matter if that means you need to work outside the home, inside the home, or you're a stay at home mother. 🙂

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