Break the Rules and Get Fired!

I was reading a research paper about math teacher shortages by D.R. Sterling. Turns out that less than 12% of math teachers leave the profession through retirement.

So 88% of the time math teachers quit, get fired or die!

by ewen and donabel | Flickr.com | CC BY

So why not be a math teacher?

Are you good at teaching math?

Have you avoided the profession because it doesn’t pay anything near what you make now?

Could you use a 9 month vacation to do something totally different, worthwhile and exciting?

Can you afford a 70% cut in pay for 9 months to really make a difference?

If you want to change things in math education, you can!

You can give 9 months to make a difference in the lives of 100 kids!

Is that do-able?

In Texas, and I’m guessing lots of other places, there is an emergency teaching certification some schools are allowed to offer when they can’t find any certified teachers. You go through an interview process and if the school decides you’re qualified – then you get to teach.

It expires after three years, but hey – you’ll probably be gone by then anyway!

Find one of these schools – it shouldn’t be hard. Go to work making a difference for a lot of kids – and making a difference in the system!

Why would you do this?

I just finished Seth Godin’s book Tribes. The premise is that a tribe (a group of people with common thinking) needs a leader – and you are that leader. So get up off your tooshie and lead, already! (That’s not a quote – it’s just what I got from the book. But it should be a quote.)

If you can afford it, and you’re passionate about helping kids learn math, then you have an obligation to help. Teachers in the system won’t risk getting fired to make change. You can!

But really, WHY would you do this?

Tons of people – teachers and parents – know beautiful and encouraging ways to teach math.

But there’s a group of people who have put together these nutty rules of what performance in math should look like each step of the way (the Common Core Standards and NCLB). Those rules prevent teachers from doing what they do best – teaching. Instead they fear for their jobs and teach the tests. All the while struggling to fit in a little learning here and there.

If you jumped in there, with no intent on following the rules, think of what would happen:

  • You’d teach. Not some crazy set of rules, but you’d teach math the way only you know how. And that’s probably a beautiful, experiential, exciting way.
  • You’d change the lives of the kids. They would see what real math might look like. They would see someone not paralyzed by fear of having your students fail the latest standardized test.
  • You’d inspire the teachers. Sure, some of them would call you a heretic. And so what – you would be! The ones who really want kids to learn math would follow your lead.
  • You’d be giving of yourself in the most valuable way there is. Talk about donation – you’re likely to need an extra $40K to make your bills. Is it tax deductible? If you consider that it puts you in a seriously lower tax bracket – yes!
  • You’d get fired. Yup – and isn’t that the point? Then you could go back to your high paying job, hire an attorney to sue the state and make big news. Show the public what it means to teach math!

Are you in?

I’ve put in notice at my day-job. I’m fixing to hit the pavement as full time Math Education Advocate at MathFour.com. Last year I made $16 in Amazon.com affiliate sales from this website, so I’m not falling back on any income here. I’ve also picked up teaching two community college developmental math classes. Which means I’m going to be gaining 32 hours a week to work on math ed advocacy – and taking a 90% pay cut.

I’m scared out of my mind.

But Daughter is 2 years old. I can’t afford to not go at this full time.

Will you join me?



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