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Can Older "New" Teachers Find Jobs?

Can Older "New" Teachers Find Jobs?

Julia G. Thompson

Dear Julia-

In Calif. I owned my own home based pre-school so that no one else would babysit my own kids. And, I would be home when they got home from school. This lasted 13 years of 55 hour weeks or more. All three kids are at UNLV now. (We moved) and the boys are Eagle Scouts. Their majors are physics, business and my daughter is on an Art scholarship.

I have been working for the Clark County School district for 4 years, and I love it! Me + Kids= Learning. Here is the thing…I need to finish my bachelors (I am a Junior) and doing it will have to be part-time because of my job with the school district. Did I mention I am 50 years old? But I would love your opinion on the future of teaching, I mean when I get my degree in 3-5 years will they still need teachers OR…should I change my major from elementary education to a degree that will be more in demand? ( Like Special Ed oe Speech???) The Education counselor I have at UNLV was very cross and unhelpful when I call to ask these kind of questions. She replied to me: “Well What do you want from me?”just answers or opinions please M’am."

I am grateful for this forum and any advice you can give me will be helpful.


Hi Michele,

You should certainly pursue your goal of finishing your degree in elementary education! There are lots of employment opportunities waiting for you in the future. Our world needs well-trained, enthusiastic, dedicated elementary teachers. Following this dream is a positive choice for you at this time in your life!

With that being said, it is absolutely true that right now, the economic mess reaches over the entire globe. The hiring freezes that many prospective teachers are up against cross international borders. You are already taking sound steps to counteract that problem by taking a proactive stance—taking coursework, joining education forums such as, and actually working in a school. You are making things much easier for yourself by doing that. You are making yourself a valuable commodity in the future.

Don’t be daunted. Instead, do the very best you can to be an effective member of your school before you finish your coursework. In doing this, you should find yourself in a position to be hired in a few years when the economic times swing back up again.

As for the future? Here is what I can safely predict about the next few years:

• We will continue to see an increase in the use of computer technology in classrooms. Keep your skills and knowledge as up to date as you can. Learn to use the Internet as a learning tool for yourself and for your future students.

• There will continue to be an emphasis on teaching students to think critically, process knowledge skillfully, work cooperatively, and be logical and creative problem-solvers. This creates a paradigm shift for most teachers. We don’t stand and deliver information anymore. We show students how to acquire it. Pay attention when your coursework deals with this.

• There will be an increasing emphasis on practical skills in schools. Students of all ages want a concrete purpose for their education—a reason that goes far beyond mastering a standardized test. Teachers should make themselves aware of the requirement of the grades before and after the one they teach so that the vertical teaming is in place. You are looking at the whole child when you do this.

• The push to improve basic skills in mathematics and literacy will continue. More and more teachers are coming to grips with the importance of creating a sound foundation for learning. This is a crucial step in insuring that all students will successfully graduate from high school. It is also a responsibility shared by us all.

Apple readers, what have I left out? What do you think the future of education holds for us? What are your predictions?

And as a final word—don’t worry one bit about your age. I work with new teachers everywhere. Schools are not just hiring young, recent graduates. Whenever I look over an audience, I am always glad to see plenty of older teachers there who bring a lifetime of wonderful experiences to the classroom. Take heart! School districts do hire lots of people who are not in their early twenties!

Follow your dream, Michele!

Best Wishes,

P.S. What a wonderful legacy you have given the world with such well-grounded children. As an educator, I wish all of my students had parents like you.

This is part of Teaching’s Dear Julia advice column. Do you have a question? Submit it now.

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