I've written several Takes about how parents talk to me and my colleagues sometimes about our classrooms, grades, and students. And they're funny for the most part. But after my more recent Take, 5 Hilarious Yet Inappropriate Things Parents Have Said To Me, A Teacher (Summer School Edition), I sat back and thought about my career so far as a teacher.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE teaching. I like interacting with my kids and helping them learn and grow. One day, once I'm a veteran, it'll be a great career for me.
But not right now. Why? Well, because I'm new. And because I'm new, there are things that I do that other teachers don't. While I understand the idea behind new teacher programs in districts and mentoring programs, I don't really get all the hoops new teachers are now asked to jump through these days on top of being told that I'm overpaid for not doing anything all day.
Each state has their own set of rules on how new teachers get their licenses and none of them are that great. But I'll use mine as an example just so you know what I personally must do to keep my license.
Please note: By new, it means teachers that are out of state that have never had a license for my particular state and teachers in my state who are just starting their teaching careers. That means you could have taught for 20 years in Texas but if you come to my state, you're a new teacher and have to start over in everything except salary.
In college, you do your student teaching experience right before you graduate. During this experience, you have to video tape yourself twice working with students and answer about 35-40 questions (depending on your focus and grade level) analyzing student data, communication with parents and colleagues, the video itself, and random scenarios. The process, when I did it, took about 27 hours to complete and the answers when I saved them in a word document were over 72 pages. You upload and submit the video to the state department along with physical evidence, like student assignments and student progress and evidence of student progress. Your entry was deemed invalid if assessors:
- Couldn't hear the students
- Couldn't hear you
- Didn't understand the lesson
- Think your video isn't clear enough for them to see
It was also invalid if you:
- Included student names
- Included your own name (the fuck?)
- Included parent names/contact information (understandable)
- Included the school's name (again...the fuck?)
If you do not pass this, you do not graduate college. No, I'm not kidding. Like, you fail the program and you don't get your degree and you have to do your student teaching all over again even if you were given a passing grade for the student teaching.
It gets better because once you pass 5 tests to get your teaching license (Praxis I and Praxis II), graduate and get your residency license, you then have to do this same assessment over again during full time teaching. The program is 4 years long. The first 2 years, you are observed and evaluate the same way the veterans teachers are and four extra times by your program's mentor per year. There's also an essay you have to write at the end of the year explaining how you grew as a teacher and what you still need to work on.
Year 3 is when you do that assessment you did in college over again. All of it. The video taping and everything. They're called 'Tasks' and there's 4 of them. You submit them twice: Two in December and two in February. You find out in June if you passed. If you fail one or more, you take that Task over again the next year. You have 3 attempts to pass. If you happen to pass, great, Year 4 is a breeze and you don't have to do much of anything except be in charge of an activity at your school.
But if you fail?
- Your teaching license is taken away
- You go back to college and take college coursework again (I think 6 credit hours. Might be 12, not sure.)
- You can get a full time teaching job, but only with a substitute teacher license and, therefore, only eligible for sub pay. Which means you don't get benefits or a retirement account besides STRS. The average sub in my state makes $100 a day whereas a 1st year teacher makes $203.
- Sub pay is not stretched out like regular teacher pay. Subs only get paid during the school year, not the summer. Teachers, on the other hand, have their salary that they earn during those 9 months recalculated and stretched so they still get a check during the summer.
-You may or may not be included in the teacher's union as some are only for teachers with an actual teaching license
- You are observed for a year by two people: One from your district and one from whatever school you are doing your coursework in and evaluated. You are still evaluated by the state as well the way a regular teacher is.
- Depending on if you complete your coursework or not, you will then be allowed to apply for a professional 5 year license.
No, you are not allowed to ask for clarification on these Tasks by the program's coordinator for your district. No, you cannot use material from a previous year to take a Task. No, they don't give you equipment to film your videos and upload them. No, you cannot negotiate or ask about your 'grade' on an assessment if you fail.
Teacher pay varies by state and district, but the average starting salary for a teacher is $37,500 in my state. That's one of the highest starting salary wages for a teacher in the entire country where its $36,000. This is on top of grading papers, meetings, professional developments, summer professional developments, trainings, statewide testing and evaluations, verbal abuse from some students, and after school activities.
My little rant is over. And, yes, I understand that everyone has a 'stressful' job and whatever. That's not the point of this Take. I just wanted everyone to know what I actually do for living outside of teaching 150 students a day since, you know, so many people think I don't do anything.
Also, please don't think that just because I do a lot now as a new teacher that it means when I'm older, I'll be doing nothing. There's a lot of things I have to do to maintain my teaching license that several veteran teachers must do now. But that's a different day and a different MyTake.