I'm interested in learning more about second-career teachers.  First-career teacher, second-career teachers, school leaders and administrators please share any thoughts on second-career teachers or your experience with second-career teachers.  "Second-career teacher" is defined as an individual that has been employed in another profession prior to becoming a certified k-12 teacher.  The route of certification is often an alternative route, but it is not always the case.  

 

Thank you,

 

Joseph Coladonato 

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I am a second career teacher. There was no way I was going to be a teacher; my mother was a teacher, my sister was an aspiring teacher, I wanted a "real" job because I hated school (boring, slow-paced, not much of a challenge, etc.) So with a minor in Finance, I became a retail manager then a buyer. (Who am I kidding? I used little of that training on the job as a retailer.) I could crunch numbers, was not emotionally attached to products, could classify ideas and products, was willing to try a new way to run a sale, etc. I worked millions of hours (very slight exaggeration) and took a sales rep position with a nice company who was a minor supplier in the industry when my first child was born.

I was not a sales person by nature. I would rather keep you away from the cliff than hard sell you into a major commitment, so I "retired" thinking I could come up with another option when the children were in school full-time.

With three children, you have a reason to be involved in the community. Could anyone run the amblyopia screening program for the nursery school? I volunteered. The nursery school teaching assistant was absent, could I stay and help? I loved it! Perhaps being out of school for 10+ years and finding kids' play intriguing helped.

I was bitten by the education bug, it was destiny and it was fatal. When you classify the careers of my parents and siblings, they are all teachers. They include: the science teacher sister, the United Airlines customer service staff development sister, the attorney brother who taught bankruptcy law at a community college, the post office brother who taught classes for that organization, my father the personnel executive who had the training department as one of his responsibilities, and my mother the phys ed teacher who embraced adaptive PE when the law changed and allowed less mobile children join their neighbors in school.

I went to grad school for an Elementary Education degree and was all set to start kids off properly in their school careers. I was certified and added a social studies 7-12 credential because I was eligible. Then my first day of substituting put me in a classroom with seventh and eighth grades students in a private school. I loved it! (I had spent years fostering independence and self-reliance in my own children, little ones were interesting, but this age group was better.)

I applied for middle school positions and landed one. I belonged to a team of teachers who liked to be independent, so I flourished. It frustrated me that you needed to wait a year to do "it" better, I had been the retailer with daily reports and finely tuned reaction time. I have adapted and the wait does not matter because I have been a continual experimenter for the past ten years.

Do I wish I had started earlier? NO! I needed to have my space and new ideas before I committed the fatal error of  replicating the school environment I had known (times have changed). I think my outside the academic world career and time  gave me perspective and allowed me to develop skills and insights from another industry.

My children are off on their own; I have earned an SDA and am working on an EdD. I have had committee chairpersonships (odd word, isn't it?) mostly centered on curriculum and professional growth (both at the building and district level). I am interested in math and science education and literacy development.

I look forward to each new year and am grateful I am employed by a district that counts on and respects our professionalism, so we do not have "hand in your plan books"  day or "you must do it exactly as the other" members of the grade, team, or department do it, and so forth.

The down side?  The career line will not be long enough for me.

 

I would be more than willing to communicate with if you want more details, rather than this breezy account.

~Norine Nagle

norinenagle@hotmail.com

Dear Ms. Nagle,

I am delighted to hear about your experience as a second-career teacher.  I am a second-career teacher as well, but only spent a year and a half in a previous career in finance.  With little expertise in that field, and a predominant background in social sciences and humanities, I did not really "fit in" in the field of finance.  Regardless, I had no education training in my undergraduate background.  However, something interesting happened when I transitioned to education.  My status or identity as someone coming from another field (an outsider) empowered me to "think I could do things differently."  And in fact, never did I consider myself the same ranks as the "traditional" teacher.  10 years into my career now, and now I am a teacher! However, when that transformation happened is unclear to me, but taking the identity as a teacher maybe the factor that could make or break whether second-career teachers transition to teaching/effective teaching.  

 

 Thank you for sharing so much of  your experience with me.  I am saving your e-mail address to my contacts (I hope you don't mind that).  It would be fascinating to learn more about your experience as I continue structuring my dissertation for my Ed.D.  

 

Respectfully,

 

Joseph Coladonato

Dear Norine,

I read your statement with interest becasue I am also a second (or third) career teacher, with SAS/SDA certifcation, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. I teach in a CTE HS and have become interested in career paths. I was an art major in HS and always loved to play teacher as a child. When I graduated HS, there were no teaching jobs, so being practical I want to business school and became a secretary, then married and had 3 children. I, like you, became interested in teaching through my volunteering at my children's school. I earned my BS from Empire State College & SUNY Old Westbury while raising my children. I earned my master's degree in art education from Queens College and began my teaching career in the NYC schools in 1994 in IS 61 in Corona as an art teacher. After 6 years I transferred to my present position at T.A. Edison CTE HS in Jamaica. I achieved National Board Certification in 2001, and earned the Ed.D. through he CITE program (and Northcentral University) in 2009. I've also performed many administrative duties, but have not officially become an administrator (although that is the plan). I don't know what the future holds for me, but I'm not done yet!

I read Norine's statement with interest becasue I am also a second (or third) career teacher, with SAS/SDA certifcation, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. I teach in a CTE HS and have become interested in career paths. I was an art major in HS and always loved to play teacher as a child. When I graduated HS, there were no teaching jobs, so being practical I want to business school and became a secretary, then married and had 3 children. I, like you, became interested in teaching through my volunteering at my children's school. I earned my BS from Empire State College & SUNY Old Westbury while raising my children. I earned my master's degree in art education from Queens College and began my teaching career in the NYC schools in 1994 in IS 61 in Corona as an art teacher. After 6 years I transferred to my present position at T.A. Edison CTE HS in Jamaica. I achieved National Board Certification in 2001, and earned the Ed.D. through he CITE program (and Northcentral University) in 2009. I've also performed many administrative duties, but have not officially become an administrator (although that is the plan). I don't know what the future holds for me, but I'm not done yet!

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