In Which I Muse on Teaching and Career – Part 1

The personal finance blogging word can seem small sometimes; I know that Michelle over at Fit is the New Poor was also a music teacher. 

I wrote this post a couple of months ago – not sure why I didn’t post it at the time, but I’ve recently had the tantalizing experience of a job opportunity pushed my way…. and while it may not work out, it has certainly made me question my goals as a professional.

I’m going to post this original post I wrote (back in February, which was pretty much at the lowest point I’ve been in my 8 years of teaching and 10 years in the field of education), and I’ll write a follow-up post about how things have changed, and this new possible job opportunity.


 

Originally written Feb 21, 2014

I don’t want to be a teacher anymore. Here are some of the reasons:

  • I want to be treated as a professional.
  • I want to spend my time with adults during the day, not children.
  • I am ready to not be emotionally exhausted at the end of every day, every week.
  • The positives are not balancing out the negatives anymore.
  • I am tired of working really hard for not much money.
  • I’m getting bored with my job and I don’t feel passionate about it anymore.
  • I don’t enjoy spending most of my time disciplining rather than teaching.
  • I would like to be able to wear heels during the work day. (Yeah. That’s totally on my list.)
  • I know that the grass is always greener on the other side. I know that it would be exchanging one set of problems for another. But I’m ready to deal with snarky adults rather than snarky students. I’d rather hear boring stories from adults than students. I’d rather not feel like when I see people doing the wrong thing that I need to step in and redirect them. I don’t want to hear about kids’ parents being in jail anymore. I don’t want to be a surrogate mother for these children when it sucks me dry and I can’t be the kind of mom I want to be for my own kid.

I also just don’t feel that interested in being a teacher anymore. I used to feel passionate – passionate to the point where I could make myself tear up in interviews, talking about my goals for kids (not just pie-in-the-sky goals, like “loving learning,” but helping them actually become life-long learners and performers of music, no matter what career path they chose, and things like music literacy and how kids need to know how to read music to become independent learners). I still feel like those are important. I just want someone else to teach kids to do those things. The responsibility is crushing. In order to teach in the best way possible, you need to sacrifice yourself. Society idolizes the teacher who gives up everything (“Freedom Writers”).

I have always wanted to do something really, really well. To be honest, I wasn’t always sure what that one thing would be. I expected that it would relate to my job and it would be involved in education, somehow. For a while, I thought, “I will become the absolute best music teacher I can be – people will respect me, I’ll publish articles, I’ll become well-known in the circle of music teachers in my region, then my state.” I pushed towards that goal, but the harder I pushed (presenting at conferences, working on my curricula every summer to revise it based on last year’s successes and failures, following other music teachers on twitter, looking for my niche in the music education world), the less I was actually interested in pursuing it. I’m not afraid of work – I’m just not willing to put in all the effort it would take to achieve this particular goal – the goal I thought I wanted.

So now, after having completed this Master’s in Instructional Technology (which just totally fell into my lap – I only paid about $100 for it over the course of two years!), I know I’m at a cross-roads.

It was hard to recognize that a field I’ve worked in for more than 10 years is no longer my passion. Honestly, teaching music isn’t the issue. It’s really just teaching in general that’s gotten me down. I want to be in an office environment with other adults wherein I feel respected. (You know what my love language is by now, right? Words of affirmation.) I know I’m not the music teacher I used to be. When I was willing to spend all my free time pushing towards better lessons plans, harder score study, better assessments, and so on, I was a good teacher. People told me so. Students told me so (but really, what do they know?). Administration told me so.

But this year especially, I know I’m letting down my students. I would like to move on.

When I made the decision to actively look outside of my career, I started (slowly but surely) to get excited. Like…. really excited. Like, I started dreaming about what it would be like to work with either college students or faculty members, what it would be like to have a day not dictated by school bells, what it would be like to be addressed by my first name.

I know that out in the “real world,” the day doesn’t end at 3:45. (Well, neither does a teacher’s, with all the work they take home, but you know what I mean.) There is limited vacation time. There may be less flexibility. But I’m ready for the trade-off. The trade-off for one set of problems for another.

Of course, just because I’m ready for a change doesn’t mean that the outside world is ready for me to change. After not getting anywhere on the full-time job application front for the last couple of months, I’m getting accustomed to the idea of having to stay in this position for at least another year. (I alluded to this in an earlier post.) I think I simply don’t have enough experience in the kind of position I’m interested in. I am concerned that it will be difficult for me to find experience in the area where we live. There are tons of jobs out there that I might be able to get, but they aren’t in our area. I’m not willing to move at this time, which has everything to do with my husband’s job. (He works in a very competitive job market, and it’s hard to give up a job like his because the likelihood of finding another one like it is small.)

So, while I’m going to stay on the lookout for any positions I think I’m qualified for in my town (and, heck, outside of town), but I’m resigning myself to being in this teaching position for another year. And if that’s the case, I need to give myself a bit of an overhaul. So, I’m burnt out. So, I don’t really enjoy disciplining kids. So, I don’t really like giving up my afternoons and evenings to school events. But I need the paycheck. So, I might as well decide I’m going to do better.

And – in an uncommon move for me – I’ve decided not to wait until an “appropriate time” (like the beginning of the next school year), I’ve decided to implement some changes right now.

I’ve applied for an opportunity to create a research-based professional development which would pay money if I get accepted to participate. You do have to be a teacher, so if I get it, it’d be a great incentive to stay in teaching. It might reinvigorate me – actually, just going through the application process has already kind of gotten me more excited about teaching (even though I’m more excited about the research and the professional development session, not implementing the strategies with my own students).

Because I will have taught 5 years at a low-income school, I will also get a break on $5K of my student loans at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, which is nothing to sneeze at. Sure, my student loans are the lowest interest rate loans we have, so they’re not our highest priority, but anything that makes our networth go up is welcome.

The only thing I know right now is that if my career doesn’t take a different direction soon, I need to find a way to be the best I can be where I am…. and keep my ear to the ground for other possible opportunities.


There it is… Look for my follow-up soon.

I know people make career changes all the time, but it seems extremely scary now to think about leaving teaching for something I’m not very familiar with. Anyone else made the huge shift from teaching to another field?

– M.

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5 thoughts on “In Which I Muse on Teaching and Career – Part 1

  1. What of music teacher are you? Elementary, choir, band? What are you doing now? I’m curious! I originally went to college for Music Education, but due to the mistakes of an 18 year old, I never finished!

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    • I teach middle school chorus. I have a part-time side hustle that is focused on instructional design to supplement my salary. Interesting that there are three of us music / bloggers out there! 🙂

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  2. It’s not that odd for musicians to be bloggers. It’s all about being creative in some way right? I was also in an acapella madrigal type choir in high school, but much to my choir director’s annoyance, band came first for me!

    Just to give you an idea of how you affect kiddos, I can still name JUST about every teacher I EVER had. EVER.

    Interested to see what you and the band director come up with! (from your next post)! We used to have an annual Mass Band performance on the football field before a game. It would be neat if you could find something for the choir to do with the band! Make music front and center! Why? Because foozbaaaalllll’s the devil! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s hilarious! I was a band kid through-and-through in middle school and high school, so doing chorus as a teacher was a departure for me, at first – however, there’s a lot to be said for teaching chorus over band. No instruments to keep track of, for one. 😉

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