Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Math or Elementary

I have been planning on becoming an elementary school teacher after I retire because I think that it's elementary education that needs the most reform, but lately I have been tempted to become a math teacher.

I have two Airman in my shop who are currently taking college algebra online. I have been helping them with their class, and have sort of enjoyed it. Maybe it runs in the family. My father was a math teacher in New Zealand for a number of years, at least until we moved back to Los Angeles and he became a programmer.

The big minus with becoming a math teacher is I would have to take a bunch more courses and get a second degree. This would seriously delay my future time line.

Any input?


CrypticLife said...

If it were up to me, I'd do math. Actually, if I could redo my career from the beginning, I might be a math teacher (I'm not a teacher now).

My perception is that they get more respect, it's easier to find work, and if you really need to it's easier to find work in the outside world as well.

rightwingprof said...

Why would one entail more courses than the other?

Redkudu said...

I think it's really going to depend a lot on the age group you're most comfortable with. Either choice is going to come with chances to help students who have been left behind.

At the elementary level, in my opinion, you might benefit from a sense of developing skills in them which will prepare them for the future, if that's where you think you'll find satisfaction.

At an older level, I think you may have to have the desire to remediate, as I do for example, unless you look specifically for jobs where the students are up to par in the skills needed for each class. Generally, this isn't the case.

In any case, I would definitely suggest you choose the subject you think you could repeat over and over 4-8 times daily, depending on your schedule. Although I enjoyed teaching 8th grade, the discovery level and conversation of high schoolers is much more to my liking in terms of job satisfaction. :)

It's odd how these things seem to run in families. My mother was always, only, a high school teacher, and my father a middle school teacher after military retirement, so I grew up watching my mother teach high school. I NEVER had any inclination to teach elementary school, and moved on from middle as soon as I could.

nbosch said...

I've taught for 25 years and as I've mentioned here before, I teach gifted kids. I agree that teaching in the early grades can really make a difference to kids--but from what I've seen recently with NCLB you might hate the "scriptedness" of an elementary classroom, there is not much room for choice or creative teaching. With your life experiences you might like something like the Ron Clark School.

High school Math teachers are in great demand, at least in our state, and they are recieving extra bonuses....so that would be nice. You could probaly get a job any where in the US teaching math.

Do you read Dan Meyer's Blog? He's a young math teacher in California and seems to really love what he does.

Parentalcation said...


A backup career isn't such a big deal for me. I could easily do the same thing I do now for the Air Force and make pretty good money.


I have only had up to Calculus, and I am only a few credits away from getting my other degree, so getting a math degree would require me getting a second bachelors and doing the complete curriculum again.


I have no desire to remediate, so that sort of leads me to elementary school. I think I could make a bigger difference there.


If I become an elementary school, I would actually seek out "DI" training. I do not believe that a certain amount of "scriptedness" would take away my flexibility.

I assume a teachers goal is to teach kids, so I fail to see what creativity has to do with teaching.

melissa said...

"I have no desire to remediate, so that sort of leads me to elementary school. I think I could make a bigger difference there."

You also have great knowledge of elementary and have done enormous personal research.

I see more teachers every year discouraged by the requirements of remediation - it comes as such a surprise when you realize the disparity in ability levels in those 30-40 student classes in high school. More teachers sitting around the lunch table looking dazed and muttering "how did they even get this far?" Luckily, it's something I've become interested in, so much so I've just taken a new job as the only reading teacher in the high school in my town.

nbosch said...

I certainly learned my lesson when trying to "argue" with you in the past---I'm just saying if you had to teach in many of today's elementary schools you would be bored out of your mind. Go ahead try it, and blog about it after the first year.

IMHO you've got some wacked ideas about how much actual "learning" goes on in many elementary classrooms.

Parentalcation said...

"IMHO you've got some wacked ideas about how much actual "learning" goes on in many elementary classrooms."

The problem is I know how much non-learning goes on inside classrooms. I deal with it at home.

tft (The Frustrated Teacher) said...

To teach elementary school, at least in California, you need a multiple subject credential. All you need is a BA, and a teacher program for the MS credential.

Sounds like you should help your own kid before you try to help the rest of them though!

Here is the CA info:


Eowyn said...

Depending on the state, you don't actually need a mathematics degree.

In fact, when I was teaching high school math, one of my fellow teachers had not taken any math past College Algebra. He took the Praxis II (Math) test, and that was enough to get his license. (It is, for the record, to cry. But still ...)