Friday, August 11, 2006


I graduate from college in four semesters - so around May of 2008. I have a pretty strong desire to change what I'm doing then, in one of several directions. One of the possible directions is to go into teaching.

I've always wanted to teach, but back when I was poorer, I was nowhere near having a degree, and once I got near to having a degree (like, in the past few years), I was making too much money to readily consider taking that kind of cut in pay.

But recently, I've worked out that if all of my debts were paid off (which will take either a few years of disciplined effort, or my company's stock price going up by about $1), I could live on a teacher's salary. And when I graduate, I'll have enough math credits to be a secondary (jr or senior high) math teacher.

I won't have a teaching certificate, but both Denver and Houston have alternative certification programs that involve teaching while going to school for one year (Houston) or two (Denver). The pay is not horrendous - in Houston, I'd make about $30K the first year, which includes a deduction for the program costs. In a couple of years I'd be making $35K, and it goes up from there. With a paid-off car, no other debts, and a slightly cheaper lifestyle than I have now, I could live on that pretty well.

The reason I'd like to do this in Houston is that, given that almost everyone I know lives in Houston or Austin, it kind of sucks to live in Denver, even though Denver itself is fabulous and, if I had my druthers, everyone I love would move here instead. If I got my certificate and taught a couple of years in Houston, I could try to get a job in Austin later if I wanted to. Colorado and Texas are also reciprocal with regard to teaching licensure, so I could also move back to Denver if I chose. (Conversely, I could get certified here and then move to Texas.)

What I really don't know is whether I would actually detest and loathe teaching. In theory, it really sounds great to me. But in practice, it seems like a lot of people really hate it and want out. Would I be one of them? It's not as though it would ruin my life if so. I can come back and get another job in oil & gas or GIS, or try to start a new career in computer science - especially if I've successfully adapted to living on $35K or so.

Lately I'm trying to think of money not in terms of something you want to stockpile so you can live bigger and better, but in terms of something you want to cut your dependency on so that you can make your life about other things than having to maintain a certain income level. It's not retirement that I'm after (though being independently wealthy is always welcome, and of course I do plan to retire someday and not have to live on the street) so much as a life that is more fulfilling or more enjoyable or more involved than what I currently have.


Debbie said...

First of all, I vote for Austin.


Ideally you could try out teaching somehow before jumping in. Maybe find a teacher to shadow for a couple of days. Or try an introductory education class that has an observation component.

One problem with trying things out, is that it's hard to get into a situation where the kids don't see you as a special treat. Like maybe you could do an after-school math club workshop or something.

Or, you can go the opposite direction and get a bad impression if you're a substitute teacher (which you generally need a degree but not certification to do).

I've heard that nowadays they're designing teacher education programs so that you get thrown into the classroom early on and can find out a few things before it's too late. But the alternative certification route (which Robin also took) just throws you right in.

You might be able to find a memoire in a book or online journal that might help you get a better idea of what it's actually like. And of course Robin can tell you a few things.


The world needs more good math teachers.


I always wanted to teach until I decided that I don't have the charasmatic personality I'd want to have in order to deal with the hordes of people who didn't want to be there.

rvman said...

The problems I've heard from teachers rarely have to do with the teaching itself - it has to do with the racial politics, paperwork, stupid curricula and 'methodology' handed down from on high, etc. One's quality of life really is dependent on how good the principal and VPs are.