From the office to the classroom

There is an interesting article at NEA Today titled Swapping the Boardroom for the Classroom that is about business people making the move from industry to teaching. Twelve years ago, after 18 years in the computer industry, I moved into the classroom for nine years. Its not a move for everyone of course but I know a number of people who have made this move. Many of them have taken pay cuts of 50-60% to do a tough job but one that they really love. Some of them have retired with pensions from industry jobs. Some have husbands or (in more cases) wifes who make enough money that they can afford the pay. Some have just toughed it out because they made a life style decision and have a real desire to make a difference and do something meaningful and inportant with their lives.

As for me, I've been out of the classroom, at least as a full-time job, for almost three years now. To tell you the truth I miss it.

Oh not all of it. I don't miss the paperwork and some of the administrative overhead. But that wasn't much worse than what it is in industry. The same is true of the politics. All work has politics. And I don't miss the paycheck. But I really miss the students. My wife and son both work in education and I love to hear them talk about their students. But at the same time it makes me wonder if I'm doing anything as important as they are with my time.

What do I miss? I miss seeing the light shine in their eyes when the finally get a concept. I miss seeing the satisfaction in their face when their best friend marvels at the game program they just wrote. I miss having students ask if they really have to go to the next class when what they want to do is work on their programming project. I miss being a part of their lives - if only for a short time.

Most of them will forget you within a year or two of graduation of course. But a few will call you up (or send an email) a couple of years after college and say "can I take you out to lunch so I can say thank you." Or they will introduce you to their boss as the person who taught them how to program correctly. Or maybe they'll just ask you if they can call you by your first name now. But some will remember you and you will know that in some way you made a difference in their lives.

Somehow in my gut I know I will be back in the classroom full-time some day. In the mean time, someone please invite me to talk to your class so I can keep my hand in. If you're in a reasonable drive from southern New Hampshire I'm sure we can work out a time.

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