Music Teacher Tip #40 - Where You Teach
Music Teacher Tip #40:
This will be a surprisingly cynical post following many very positive ones. I know it's weird coming from me, but...
There are some people who shouldn't be teachers in a K-12 school and that's OK. This might be you and that's OK too.
You have to be passionate about teaching and making a difference for children if you plan to make it in this profession. You also have to be physically and mentally... well, almost like a superhero.
The hours are incredibly long, sometimes starting before daylight and ending after sunset.
In order to be really good at it, you almost always have to bring work home. There just aren't enough hours in the day. It can be difficult to have a personal life or even find time to properly take care of yourself and/or your family.
The pay is poor. I don't know any teachers who don't have a second job of some kind. (When I taught K-12, I had 3 jobs.)
The stress can be astronomical. Lawmakers mandate things they shouldn't. Principals and coworkers often don't understand what we do. Parents can be difficult for no apparent reason. Kids... well they're just being kids, but managing hundreds at a time - sometimes on a daily basis - is a lot for anyone.
Being a music teacher is physically exhausting. Yes, the stress will make you tired, but so will singing, dancing, moving equipment, conducting, etc. all day every day.
I've read several posts on other sites from teachers who don't know if they can continue. I was one of those. After 17 years in the classroom, my body just couldn't take it any more. I just want you to know you have options.
If you are at a poverty school, things will be much more stressful. The 17 years I taught I ONLY taught in poverty schools because I wanted to make a real difference for those kids. It wasn't until I started supervising student teachers that I had the opportunity to observe many other classrooms and what I found was shocking!
Other teachers didn't have to discipline students every class of every day. These kids just came and for the most part, did what they were supposed to. That's not to say it's easy at these schools, but there's a reason some districts offer incentive pay for those teaching at poverty schools.
If you are struggling to stay in this profession and you are at a poverty school, maybe you should consider teaching in a school that's not as challenging physically and mentally.
You could also consider that there are many jobs where you could use your degree(s), but not necessarily teach 7-8 hours a day. You could be an arts administrator. You could supervise student teachers. You could teach private lessons in a music store or from your home. You could be a church-music director. You could even do something completely outside your field. I have several former students in the banking, medical, and other professions who are perfectly happy. Most are even making better money than they would have if they had continued teaching.
What I'm trying to say is, "You are not trapped." If you are not happy doing what you're doing where you are, then change it.
Happy teaching (maybe somewhere else)! ❤️🎶