College teaching can be as rewarding as a K–12 career and, whether in elementary school or college, students deserve good teachers.
At least once a semester, I get an e-mail from a former student who wants to know what to do next in his/her teaching career. If I took all the messages, and compiled them into one, it might read:
Now that I have eight years of teaching experience and my master’s degree, I’ve been wondering if I should stay in the classroom. I love teaching, and I know I don’t want to become an administrator. I think I want to teach in college. I know I will need my doctorate for this, but will the new job be worth the effort of getting my Ph.D.? Will there even be jobs, and if so, what exactly would I be teaching? What do you think? How did you go from teaching in a high school to being a college professor?
Working in higher education can be a good choice for the right teachers. Lieberg (2008) writes, “Many parts of teaching are greatly satisfying — watching students become engaged and excited about course topics and material, helping them to untangle their confusions, and seeing them get it, whatever ‘it’ is in your field” (p. 4). You set your hours to a greater extent than in K–12 teaching, and opportunities for professional development and travel are generally more available. Perhaps most importantly, college professors who prepare teachers can have a tremendous impact on K–12 classrooms for decades into the future.
A Day in the Life
A 3rd-grade teacher arrives at school at 7:45 a.m. and teaches all subjects to 26 students until 3:30 p.m. She has a 28-minute lunch hour. This