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The Best Time is in the Classroom:
By Susan Smith

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

Would I be a teacher again? The answer to that question is YES, YES, YES!!

I retired last year from a 33-year career as a math teacher and department chairperson at East Meadow School district on Long island, New York.

I had not considered leaving at that time, but a special opportunity came up -- I was offered a fulltime position in graduate education at Molloy College. Having been an adjunct there for a couple of years, I knew it was a place where I would enjoy continuing my teaching career. What better way to move on than to share my 33 years of teaching with teacher candidates?

After one full year I know I made the right move. Working with my new students has renewed my love of teaching. Some of my students already are teaching, but many others are changing careers. They all bring a real enthusiasm in their desire to teach.

When I entered college in 1967, I knew I wanted to be a math teacher. I consider two individuals "my reasons for becoming a teacher." One was my high-school physical education teacher, Joan Case; the other was my math teacher, Roberta Eisenberg. I think all successful teachers have similar role models.

My only "slight" variation from the classroom was to become a department chairperson. Other administrative opportunities were available to me during my 33 years in education, but they all meant leaving the classroom, and my teaching periods were the favorite parts of my days. I enjoyed having input into hiring, curriculum, scheduling, and so on, but my classes were always my priority.

I never once have regretted my decision to become a teacher, and I encourage others to consider a career in education. Go out and speak to teachers, professors, and administrators to get the "real" story. If you're considering changing careers to become a teacher, look at your local college programs to get the best fit for your needs, both for your needed course work and for your time and family priorities. You can do it!

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10/14/2005