Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Choose Your Own Grad School Adventure

You are sitting at your dining room table. To your left is a pile of materials from local graduate programs; to your right are printouts from the Invisible Adjunct. A mixed drink sits close by your mouse. It seems to be quietly contemplating its short, merry life, content to be at hand and then at liver. With a slurp and a burp it joins its friends in the struggle against...struggly stuff.

As you flip through the grad school materials the choices are overwhelming. You pause briefly to reflect on the good ol’ days, when beating Super Mario Brothers III as quickly as possible was a worthwhile goal. This sort of depresses you and pisses you off at the same time, which is as good a reason as any to make another drink.

It’s time to make a choice, though. What are you going to do with your life?


A) You decide to go into administration! Teachers respect you, and you’ve proven your ability in the classroom. You’d never really thought of it when you began your career, but more and more people are asking if you if your intent is to go into administration, so maybe they see something you didn’t. As principal you could make a difference for an entire school.

If you choose option A, you then have to make some other choices:

You can attend State U. It’s your alma mater, where you earned your BA and M.ED degrees. The credits from your first masters degree will carry over, meaning you’d only have to take about 20 more to get the principal’s certificate, plus the internship. One of the key professors in the program has a national reputation (he really did write the book on the principalship), and the program coordinator is one of the sharpest men you’ve ever met.


You can attend Private U. One recruiter told you that hiring committees sometimes look negatively at candidates who have all their degrees from one institution, and a quick look through the staff list at State U shows that indeed most of them have traveled far and wide getting their degrees. Private U is significantly more expensive than State U (about 50% more), but it has a sterling regional reputation. Your past encounters with the education department at Private U have all been exceptional; they fall over themselves trying to help out the teachers in the area.

Of course, there’s also always…..

B) You decide to go into college teaching! The area around here is absolutely ripe with education schools (2 private, 2 state, plus the program at the community college), and the little bit of looking around you’ve done makes you think that you could probably get adjunct work if you wanted it. You’ve enjoyed the presentations you’ve done and the book studies you’ve led, and there is nobody you’ve met yet who can out-research you on a topic. You’ve been recognized for your effective teaching practices, and being able to share those with future teachers could touch thousands of lives.

If you decide to follow option B, these are the subsequent choices you have to make:

State U has a program in Adult Education. It teaches you how to teach adults, and then you’re given a class of your own to teach, which may or may not be in education. You have no idea what their placement rate is, or if they even consider that sort of thing. You do know the lady who coordinates the program, and she’s someone you respect. You feel like this would make you an attractive candidate for part time and adjunct positions, which would be nice because then you could possibly keep your teaching position, too.


BIG State U has the only doctoral program in the region. If you pursued a degree through them you could get your Ed.D. in five years or so, which would qualify you for tenure-track positions at any of the local universities. Getting the Doctorate would pretty much necessitate the life of an academic, as it would be a little weird to have 1st graders calling you Doctor Thinker. Actually, it’d be pretty hilarious, which isn’t the best argument for getting a doctorate, but it’s not a negative either.

There’s also a very attractive option C:

C) You stay right where you are. You’re doing a good job, you’ve got a baby on the way, and there’s no good reason to throw more money down the tuition rat hole when you just finished your Masters last year. In the classroom you control your own destiny, and that’s really a powerful thing to have going for you. You’re happy, you’re busy—why change?

Here there’s a ton of bonus choices, none of which preclude the others from also being done:

You do presentations at local conferences, talking about the success your district has had with PLCs, how to use comics in the classroom, or something else equally close to what you do.

You get more involved in the union. You’ve had this idea kicking around the back of your head for a while now that you could make a very effective blog for the union, and that would make you the only local in the council that had one of those. You can also get a good stipend for your union work.

You teach more after school classes. The Washington Science Teachers Association has a big contest for primary grade kids every year; taking a team down to that could be a ton of fun. You can do another Destination: Imagination! squad, or teach your math PAU again.


You say to hell with it, give up all the extra things, and come home to your daughter every day as soon as the bell rings.


Blogger Kim said...

Once your daughter is here, I bet that last option will be looking awfully attractive. However, isn't a college professor's schedule even more flexible than a public school teacher? As a woman, I would be looking at family first, but I know it's different for a man.

9:12 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

Teaching high school, I think, is more rewarding than teaching college, and I do both.

Being an administrator is out for me, as I have no patience whatsoever for grownups who ought to know better. I need to save my patience for kids, including my daughter.

2:31 PM  
Blogger The Science Goddess said...

I'm working on an EdD. My understanding that it is a degree for "practitioners," rather than academics (who get a PhD and enter the Ivory Tower).

As the child of a university professor, let me warn you that the pay is worse than in the public schools, even though the schedule might be more flexible.

Best wishes to you as you continue to consider this.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

In my dream world I'd be able to do both classroom teaching and the occasional university class; I know that I had a lot more respect for those ed professors who knew the classroom, though they were all too few.

2:16 PM  
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5:04 AM  

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