When I first got into my grad program for secondary ed I was remarkably excited. It was a huge step for me and I was proud to be one of the 13 people selected for my cohort year at my university. Before I’d even begun my student teaching placement I had a conversation with my sister in which she told me she’d seen our high school principal. He’d asked what I was up to and she said I was in grad school and planning to teach. His response was basically, ‘oh, she’s going to be a professor,’ to which my sister said, ‘no, she wants to teach high school.’ The former principal, who’d been a high school science teacher (as I was studying to be) before going into administration, told my sister, “It will make her miserable. Teaching high school is below her.” I was somewhat crushed.
When my former students found out I was leaving them, their first assumption was that I was leaving them to teach at the college level. I told them I’d still be teaching high school and one said, “Why would you stay with high school? You would be a great professor!” It made me feel a little hollow.
When I told a former coach whose daughter, a former classmate and teammate, was also moving to the same area I just moved to, he asked, “Will you still be teaching high school?” See, his daughter just took an adjunct job and will be teaching college kids. I said I’d still be teaching high school because I really like them and, while he’d never mean it that way, I felt like the fact that I was still teaching high school was being compared to his daughter’s choice to teach at a college. It made me a little angry.
I’ve been having trouble figuring out what I want to say about this but it’s been weighing on my mind for weeks. And I guess what I want to say it, ‘Why do so many people feel it’s their business to voice their opinions over my career choice? What makes people feel like the choice to teach high school is somehow lower than teaching college?’ In my opinion, educators are needed at every level and it’s their choice what level they want to teach. Our society places a higher value, a higher level of prestige, really, on teaching at a college, but one could argue that it’s harder to teach at the secondary level because there is a much higher percentage of students that don’t want to be there. Every level of education carries with it a different set of frustrations and challenges that teachers have to find ways to overcome whether you’re talking pre-K or grad school.
Why do we criticize anybody that has chosen to dedicate their
livescareers to the learning of others? I teach high school because I love working with that age group and because large groups of elementary students terrify me and because I’ve met entirely too many pretentious assholes in higher ed. I teach high school because I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of students whose views of the world around them are constantly changing and reforming. And while I know if I wasn’t teaching high school someone else would step in and fill that role instead, I enjoy getting to fill it myself. Shouldn’t the fact that I love what I do be enough to keep other people from pitying me for ‘not living up to my potential?’
This post ia everything to me rn.