I teach High School English. I absolutely fucking love it. However, it isn’t for everyone – it’s an insane amount of work, and you don’t teach, you become a teacher–it takes over your life.
Here in Texas, at least, there are plenty of positions for English teachers provided you are willing to teach in a city. I teach in an “urban” school, and I love it, I’d never go to the suburbs. But lots of poeple are scared of the poor and the brown, so there are a lot of very interesting urban positons avalible and room for serious professional advancement.
That said, this is an updated lsit of pros and cons I orignally posted in this thread–it’s a good thread about teaching that you may want to look at.
I teach AP English in a medium sized school in a large urban district.
I love, love, love my job. I feel lucky every day that a job exisits wherein my personality quirks are actual strengths–being weird and overly-enthusiastic and pedantic are assets.
I love the fact that my job takes every iota of creative problem-solving energy I have. I have to teach certain skills, but I get to come up with how I teach them.
I love my kids as a group-they are funny and self-centered and earnest and moody and amazingly open. I give participation group credit to kids who host or attend after school discussion groups on controversial topics, and I love just sitting back watching people learn to think-they are clumsy and cute with their brand-new adult brains.
I love my kids as individuals–the Afgani refugee who is almost too shy to talk to me, but determined to make it through AP English if it kills her, the kid from Zimbabwee who goes from model geek to thouroughly Americanized hip-hop gangster over the course of two years and still graduates top of his class and dreams of going home when he finishes college to help his first home, the drug addict who is so sharp he cuts himself and can’t decide if he wants to deal drugs or be a missionary, the cheerleading captain who can’t stop giggling at the sight of strapping young males, but also intuits BC calculus–there are days when my heart feels like it’s going to burst from sheer affection.
I love warping young minds.
I love being listened to by my kids. I work with 50 people who really, really give a shit what I think and are amazed at how smart I am, who value a compliment from me, who trust me when I tell them how to be a better writer/thinker. (The other 100 kids are not so impressed/haven’t noticed me, but that’s still 50 that DO listen!)
I love being part of a community. I was not a “joiner” AT ALL in high school, but I totally am as a teacher–games, concerts, plays, publications–all that is fun because I know all the people involved, and had a hand in shaping many of them.
I love starting over every year. New group of kids to laugh at my jokes, new chance to do right all the things I did wrong last year.
I love the fact that I am never, ever, ever bored.
I love the power to make my own decisions-- my room is my world, and I decide how it works.
I love the fact that I get to buy school supplies every year for the rest of my life.
I love that I actually enjoy commencement, because where other people are waiting on one or two names, I get to bite my lip and blink my eyes for a hundred different kids.
I love that I have finally excized all my high-school era ghosts, by firmly putting my adolecence in perspective. Teaching allowed me to finally forgive myself for being young and stupid once.
I love the repsect I get. People say that teaching is not a repected profession, but it really is. People are always interested in what I do, and I can’t tell you how many people–strangers–I have had out right thank me for being a teacher.
I love the vacation time. I work a lot in the summer-no doubt–but it is at a very different pace. I have 14 weeks a year (counting Xmas and Spring Break) to lounge.
I love my fellow teachers–teaching attracts strong personalities, and so confers a certain freedom to be, shall we say, quirky, that you just don’t have in the work-a-day world.
On the other hand:
I hate the administrative b.s.: the faculty meetings, the in-school trainings, the endless, endless paperwork. But what job doesn’t have these sort of things?
I hate the complete lack of breathing space. I teach six classes a day and have 45 minutes to plan and grade. Short of an emergency, I can’t go to the bathroom between 10:15 and 4:00: theoretically, I could go during lunch, but as lunch is only half an hour (a luxury, up from 25 minutes last year) and the bathroom a five minute walk away, I have developed the infamous teacher bladder.
I hate my other co-workers–the bitter, tired, cynical jerks who hate the job, the school , and the kids, and seem to want to drag me down into their misery.
I hate that you can’t go to the doctor or the DMV without organizing a three-ring circus. I hate that I can’t leave a message with a doctor or lawyer or plumber to call me at work.
I hate that it is my job to tell a 17 year old whether or not they really need to go to the bathroom.
I hate that I don’t have any creative energy left for anything else.
I hate that sometimes kids die.
The only other thing I would mention is the workload: it’s not a love or hate issue for me–I like to work, but I also like summer. But anyone going into teaching needs to understand about the workload. It is not a 9-5 job–it’s a job, and a hobby, and a second job. I am at school by 6:30 every day and leave at 5 or 6 every day–I grade 8 or 10 hours a weekend. Drama teachers, coaches, and journalism teachers all work more hours than I do.
If you think that your job should not define you, don’t go into teaching.