A reader commented on my previous post asking me if what I am doing is worth it. Rather than commenting back rambling my thoughts I thought I'd rather blog about it. So here I am blogging!
Is it worth it?
Short Answer: Yes.
But here's why.
The Teaching Fellow program that I am part of allows me to get my Masters for essentially nothing ($6,000) at a private university, which means I will not have any additional student loans. By the end of my two year commitment I will have full certification in physics and with a few extra dotting of my i's and crossing of my t's I will easily have a dual certificate in mathematics. This makes me incredibly marketable as a teacher and as long as I dont mess up my certification I will always be able to find a job.
I also really like what I am doing because by the time I am 25 I will have received my Masters degree and the stress and work load I currently feel will change. Everything won't be brand new and I'll have more experience and time to really fine tune my teaching. Also, being 25, single, and with my schooling done and out of the way, it will be a GREAT time to rock NYC. I will have more credibility and I want that.
I also really like the program because I did NOT want to be a teacher when I entered college because my mom is a teacher and I did NOT want that lifestyle. (irony.. irony...) So instead I did my own thing trying out the life of a scientists, found being in the lab personally not very meaningful - not to mention constantly being surrounded by men. I enjoyed tutoring and helping students more than banging my head against the wall with lab equipment that never seemed to work. By the time of my senior year in college I had a crisis (for lack of better words) of what to do with my life seeing that I did NOT want to be a scientist, but I still did not know what I really wanted to do. I kept thinking about education, but was intimidated by it, so I took a year off and volunteered in a high needs elementary school to "see if this teaching thing was really for me" and also served as a youth pastor/mentor for high school students. I discovered that teaching was for me and with a few modifications (teaching high school science.. not elementary reading) I was determined to be a teacher. So here I am!
Furthermore I do not believe what I am doing is wasting my time. If I were to decide someday that I do not want to teach I will have very valuable skills that I can take with me anywhere: 1. The ability to manage people and 2. the ability to teach. Both are incredibly useful in any field. But I'll be honest.. on really bad days my friends in finance like to remind me I could go back to school get my Ph.D in physics and play the game on Wall Street. Many physicists who have Ph.Ds do that and make a ton of money, but you also have to have the right type of personality for that which is just not me. Tempting, yes, but then I remember how much schooling I'd have to do to get there and how much I hated it the first time around and think.... hmmm I think I'll stick to teaching.
Finally, at the end of the day I really do love teaching. I think I do have a natural knack for it and a good sense of understanding the population of the kids I serve. I like them a lot - probably even love them to a certain extent (although they do drive me crazy sometimes). I like challenging them and making them see things differently. I think what I love most about teaching is developing mentoring type relationships with my students - a lot of them don't have a lot of support at home. I will miss them when they graduate.
So... here's whats really sucky about now.
1. I hate grad school. I don't want to complain that it's not rigorous enough because I definitely have enough on my plate.. but seriously. These classes are a joke and a waste of time (and I am told my university is one of the better schools for education in the city).
2. I work the same amount of hours I did as a physics undergrad student
expect instead of wanting to run my head into a wall because of a
physics problem set or the a fore mentioned lab equipment NEVER working
right, I now work with people- adolescent people. So when things get
frustrating it's people I have to deal with, not physics problems, which
is more taxing for me as an introvert.
3. My seniors are losing motivation as they get rejected from colleges OR are losing motivation because they did get into college, which creates a new sort of hell for me as I juggle everything else. Fighting senioritsis makes me incredibly bitter and resentful as the ways I try to motivate them seem to fail. But I get it - senior year creates can create a huge sense of hopelessness. The movie Perks of being a Wallflower come to mind - that's some of my students.