Answering the Call to Teach
They say teaching is a calling. Some of us discover it young. For others, the calling comes later in life, after we’ve discovered that our skills and talents could make a difference in the lives of young learners.
If you’re thinking about leaving your career to become a teacher, you’re probably equally excited and anxious. You might have some concerns about leaving a job you know to embark on something new. After all, this endeavor will take time and resources. You’ll want to know if it’s worth it.
Here are some tips from Lesley University alumnae who followed their passion and became teachers. They had earned their bachelor’s degrees in a non-teaching major. They succeeded in other careers, then went back to school for their master’s degrees in education.
All are teaching in Massachusetts now, and they haven’t looked back.
Tip #1: Talk to other teachers.
Find ways to talk to teachers in different types of schools about their work.
Erin Parisi ’07, a graduate of our M.Ed. in Elementary Education program, had been working in the business world for 15 years—mostly in marketing roles—before pursuing her passion of teaching.
But first, she did her research.
“I talked with my teacher friends and voiced my concerns. What if I disliked teaching? What if I couldn’t find a position at the grade level I aspired to teach? What if I couldn’t handle the discipline issues? They advised me it would all be okay and not to expect to know everything upon graduation—it takes years to figure out teaching and become truly skilled,” she says.
Erin now teaches third grade in Lowell Public Schools, an urban setting and her dream placement. “I have no regrets about my decision to become a teacher. I love what I do and love the students I teach each year,” she says.
Tip #2: Try it out.
Substitute teaching is one way to see if a teaching career is right for you. Research the requirements for substitute teachers in the types of school districts and at the grade levels where you want to work.
“You need to make sure that you want to spend your days with children or teenagers,” says Susan Lewis ’13, a TV and website producer for 20+ years for the PBS science series NOVA. Susan’s love of educating people about science and seeing the impact teachers had on her daughters inspired her to become a teacher when she was in her forties.
Following the advice of veteran teachers, Susan subbed at a few middle schools before deciding to become a teacher. She earned her M.Ed. in Middle School Humanities through Lesley’s Collaborative Internship Program—a teacher residency program—at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is now in her fifth year of teaching middle school science at the Nashoba Brooks School in Concord.
“Teaching science is a dream job for me. All my life I have been fascinated by how science can unlock secrets of the natural world, and now I get to explore the wonders of science with my students,” she says.