Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

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LearnerSD
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by LearnerSD »

You can get a New Mexico teaching license while teaching full-time on an "intern" license, and keep paying into SS. Northern NM is temperate. NM is the lowest state in quality of schools, so opportunities are many to make a difference, especially if you have leeway to purchase some lab supplies yourself. Most MA's in education are a waste of time because they teach out-of-date theory that is next to useless in the field (I prefer this to in the "trenches"). Culture shock can be a factor, but you have your choice from HCOL (Santa Fe), urban (Albuquerque), to rural towns, ranches, or farms. Clean air, low population density, and a slow pace of living can be welcome or part of culture shock.
I'm a teacher educator and my only red flag is that you have not mentioned students. If you are discipline oriented rather than youth oriented, then you will fit into a privileged school only, in any location. If you're not sure, substitute for a while in the area you choose to live, in a couple of months you may know what your next step is. And community college adjuncting might be a part-time solution with a growing family. Since you are a couple of years out, there may be in-person schooling by then, but one can make online work, too. Best of luck!
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gr7070
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by gr7070 »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:23 pm I've heard conflicting stories of how easy it is to find a job as a STEM teacher - some, like you, have said it's actually really hard, while others say it's fairly easy. My fallback plan, if I end up getting certified but without a full-time job, is to become a substitute teacher and hopefully get to know a school well enough that way so I can get hired whenever an opening comes up.
It heavily depends upon the location/state. Good luck getting a teaching job in a place like Wisconsin without the teaching degree behind it. Texas? Easy as can be.
MOlifant
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by MOlifant »

Congratulations on a great choice for a rewarding second career. I will second what others have said about private schools as an alternative path. In addition, because you will be in demand as a STEM teacher, some jurisdictions may offer an alternative path to certification. Montgomery County, MD is an example (see https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/acade ... chers.html). Good luck!
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

jpelder wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:17 pm Hi cncm!
I'm a STEM teacher (currently teach health science, have also taught Anatomy, Environmental Science, and Physical Science) in North Carolina (Charlotte-Mecklenburg), so I can address some of the details of teaching here. I'm also a semi career changer, so I can also address the alternative licensure pathway and "jumping in the deep end"

1. NC doesn't pay extra for master's degrees that were begun after 2013, so an MAT won't give you a pay bump. You still might find the training useful, though. You will get a bump if you have an advanced degree in your STEM field that you started before 2013.

2. NC's main route to teaching for career changers is called a "teaching residency". They're a summer internship run by school districts that gives you some classroom experience. My wife just did the elementary school one last summer. It's a lot, but it was much better than the path I followed, which was pretty much just "throw you into the deep end" and take some college classes in your first three years of work.

3. Schools vary widely in administration quality and in student culture. Some of these differences are measureable, some are not. You'll mostly have to take what you can get when you enter the field unless you have a very specific skill (chemistry, physics, and engineering are in high demand). That said, you will find something in STEM if you want it.

4. Financially, the pay isn't great. I just passed $50k this past year and that's in my sixth year with a master's degree. Both the Charlotte and Raleigh (Triangle) areas are relatively expensive relative to the teacher pay. For perspective, my 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1700 square foot house way out in the suburbs is worth about $200,000. A friend with a similar-sized house in a desirable neighborhood in central Charlotte has a value closer to half a million. The benefits are decent: the nicer tier health insurance is only $50 per month for employees, but $700-ish per month for a spouse or family. The state pension is well-funded, and we qualify for Social Security, too. All other benefits are handled by districts, so the quality will vary.

5. NC schools are chronically underfunded. I typically spend $60 per month on classroom supplies, and it was more when I was "starting up" my first few years. Be prepared to buy paper, writing implements, lab supplies, and similar things out of pocket, or be prepared to do without.

6. I absolutely love teaching. It's definitely a career that brings me a lot of joy. It's hard and the hours during the year are long. But I do have summers off (this is the first one in six years where I haven't had college courses to take or training to attend). There is no flexibility in time off, except if you're willing to be "sick" when you're not.
Thank you so much for this perspective. Lots for me to think about & research further, but I'm so glad to hear you're loving being a teacher. I feel like whenever I tell people my plan, I only hear the horror stories.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

VikingThor wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:59 pm You are definitely not FIRE, in terms of financially independent.

In fact not even close.

You spend 120k and have $1.8m, some of which is 401k and subject to tax on withdrawal.

Of course if you factor in earnings,and lower cost of living, you can make it work.

But think of it this way - at current spending you would need $3M in After Tax Accounts to be FIRE; more than that if you have taxable accounts. Also kids are very expensive.

You have a great start but just caution you to have realistic view of the #s. Rather than FIRE, I think you are more realistically looking at ability to downshift and earn much less money in a more satisfying and flexible career.
I agree I'm not ready to FIRE living in my current VHCOL city - the plan was always to move (even if I weren't going into teaching) since neither my husband and I have any family ties where we are. Neither of us plan on fully retiring either, given our age, we just want to dial back into a slower pace of living while doing something we enjoy more than our current jobs.
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cncm
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by cncm »

LearnerSD wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:26 pm I'm a teacher educator and my only red flag is that you have not mentioned students. If you are discipline oriented rather than youth oriented, then you will fit into a privileged school only, in any location. If you're not sure, substitute for a while in the area you choose to live, in a couple of months you may know what your next step is. And community college adjuncting might be a part-time solution with a growing family. Since you are a couple of years out, there may be in-person schooling by then, but one can make online work, too. Best of luck!
You bring up a good point. I actually don't want to teach in only privileged schools...my past teaching experience include teaching in a rural community in a developing country, and the community college where I taught as an adjunct was mostly all minority students. In both cases, the students were all eager to learn and I faced almost zero behavior issues. From my understanding, that's not always the case here with schools in underprivileged communities. It's not enough to deter me, but I am concerned as a new teacher how good of a job I'd be able to do in these classrooms where most of my time would be spent on classroom management rather than content. Would appreciate any tips/thoughts on this topic.
huskerfan1414
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by huskerfan1414 »

Well, I'll give you some opinions on the teaching aspect but they might not be popular or to your wishes. Please know that the following has nothing to do with they type of students you will be teaching---you can teach anybody if you know what you're doing and care. All children need to learn, it doesn't matter what they look like either way. Your concerns are with administration and school policies.

First, you said you want to get into a "good school". When I hear that I think "Good administrations that allow me to teach and support me." If I were you I would go Charter school or private school route. I have no idea the reality of getting a job in a Charter school but those are great schools that are doing great things for children in poverty. Math and Stem are good fields to get a job in any school.

If you go to the public schools in the areas you mentioned, you will start low on the totem pole and you will be micromanaged in ways you might find surprising. One of the main problems with large public school districts is the glut of administrators who have to justify their six-figure salaries, and the only way to do that is to come up with more and more rules, policies, programs, etc. And these are always for the teachers to follow, never for the students. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and there's plenty of teachers out there who love their jobs and administrations....but "I just want to teach" is a common complaint in many districts. You seem confident in your abilities and there's nothing more frustrating than being micromanaged by administrators who are not educated in what you are teaching to the level you are. There's so much wrong with education that the public doesn't see.
The dirty little secret is many teachers teach for summers/weekends/holidays off, tenure and benefits, so that's why they stick around. I'm not in the "teachers aren't paid enough" camp.

If I was set on going the public school route I would research the districts. I won't pretend I know about them all in your areas of choice, I don't...but I can guess.
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RetiredMommy
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by RetiredMommy »

I taught forever, moved states (took a couple years off) and am now returning to the classroom... or maybe online depending on how districts decide to go! I just wanted to chime in that STEM jobs are much easier to get than LA/SS no matter where you want to work. I’ve taught in fantastic districts and my new, one (best in the state) hired me within a week of submitting my resume and materials.

I’d be very careful giving up a high paying job for teaching. Although I love teaching, remember that in your current situation every year is equal to 5-10years of teaching. Could you work 3-5 more years in your current situation, retire, and volunteer in the classroom?
Chicken Little
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Chicken Little »

huskerfan1414 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:23 amIf I were you I would go Charter school or private school route.
+1

I’m not a teacher, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t very difficult to secure a STEM teaching job in one of the top school districts in Philadelphia area like TE or Lower Merion, or even the next tier down, or magnet schools in the city. Interested to hear what the pros would say.

Charters have blown up in Philadelphia. Has to be an easier path. Some have been closed as frauds, but many are seemingly very good.

Working 7-3 at school, shopping for supplies with your own money after, and then working at home from what, 7-10, to refine the lesson plan in those first few years? With $2M tucked away?

If you want to be a teacher, be a teacher. I’d probably be looking for a job that paid $400k for another 5 years so that after I made the change, it wouldn’t matter if I decided to quit.
huskerfan1414
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by huskerfan1414 »

Chicken Little wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:47 am
huskerfan1414 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:23 amIf I were you I would go Charter school or private school route.
shopping for supplies with your own money after, and then working at home from what, 7-10, to refine the lesson plan in those
This is an overblown, overused statement by a few teachers and the media. You can also deduct a lot of this stuff...other people have to spend money for their jobs, too, so I don't get why teachers think we're special.

But I guess this wouldn't be a deciding factor for the OP either way so the point is probably moot.
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palaheel
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by palaheel »

I live in the RTP area, and recently retired from a second career teaching Community College. I paid into Social Security, and I'm virtually certain public school teachers do as well. We were in the same retirement plan.

The NC State Teachers and Employees handbook is here
https://files.nc.gov/retire/documents/f ... ndbook.pdf
and benefit information is on page 8.

NC has a guaranteed benefit pension plan. I retired at 65 with 5 years in, and was mildly surprised at the monthly payout.

NC State University once had a program for professionals wanting to transition to public school teaching. I contacted them about 10 years ago to get more information, and discovered that Computer Science was not considered an applicable major for teaching in public schools. You might want to see if the transition program still exists.

Chapel Hill has the best high schools in the area, and probably the state. I would avoid Durham, and be selective in Wake County.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

aristotelian wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:45 pm Why not continue to adjunct at the community college level? You already have experience and fewer hoops to go through. I cannot imagine spending time voluntarily in a school system bureaucracy. Most teachers I know are underpaid and stressed.
This.

I have an aunt who has been teaching at a MA community college for years and as of late has been teaching online courses in addition which brings in more money. That skill serves her well since community colleges will about 99% be only online this coming fall.
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flyingaway
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by flyingaway »

I would suggest that the OP keeps her $400k job and befriends some real teachers. She might find that there are lots of real teachers who want to switch to jobs paying about a fraction of her salary.
as9
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by as9 »

Chicken Little wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:47 am
huskerfan1414 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:23 amIf I were you I would go Charter school or private school route.
+1

I’m not a teacher, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t very difficult to secure a STEM teaching job in one of the top school districts in Philadelphia area like TE or Lower Merion, or even the next tier down, or magnet schools in the city. Interested to hear what the pros would say.

Charters have blown up in Philadelphia. Has to be an easier path. Some have been closed as frauds, but many are seemingly very good.

Working 7-3 at school, shopping for supplies with your own money after, and then working at home from what, 7-10, to refine the lesson plan in those first few years? With $2M tucked away?

If you want to be a teacher, be a teacher. I’d probably be looking for a job that paid $400k for another 5 years so that after I made the change, it wouldn’t matter if I decided to quit.
Can confirm it is not easy to get into some of Philly's western suburb districts, which are some of the highest rated districts in the country. In these places the pay is on the high end and you're teaching in high schools where almost a third of the kids are taking AP courses.

On the flip side, jobs within Philly are plentiful and there is a very wide range between highly rated magnet schools and poorly funded schools with a high portion of kids living in poverty.

One possible option (and we are pro-public school as well) if you're going to have kids -- find a private school that is nursery school through 12th grade (or some even have child care centers). You may be able to get free or discounted tuition before switching to public K. This can be a big money saver.
ecoe
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by ecoe »

We made this career change at 38 years old and loved it. Our goal, however, was to teach overseas and I encourage you to give that some thought. We managed to teach in South America, Central America, East Asia, South Asia and Europe during our years of teaching. My experience was that the previous relevant work experience gave an edge when applying for jobs and was respected/appreciated by parents and students. Teaching overseas (these are private schools) meant smaller classes (my two years teaching in the US had class sizes as high as 42 while overseas the max has always been 18 for my high school classes) and, perhaps as a result of smaller classes, generally fewer distractions. I also teach a 2 year course abroad rather than the semester courses I taught in the US which gave me the chance to truly get to know my students and (I like to think) to make a difference. A side benefit is that international school staff are often a tight knit group giving you the opportunity for many friendships as soon as you land in a new country. Benefits are often quite good and usually include tuition for children of teachers.

As for making the transition, I already had a masters in another subject so decided to get my teaching certification with a post-bac program on evenings and weekends while keeping my previous job. It was a much cheaper way to make the transition and has not hurt me at all. In fact, it gave me insight into the field before I made the leap. I find that the Masters is a bit like the work experience in that people appreciate that you have it and it opens a few more doors but no one is concerned that my Masters is in my teaching subject rather than in teaching theory.

Good luck with the decision and the transition!
rob65
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by rob65 »

I teach math at a two year college.

A few thoughts.

First, you make an order of magnitude more money than most teachers. Be prepared for the possibility that some people will be skeptical that you will work for the salary they can offer.

I think your adjunct teaching experience will help when getting a job. At the high school level, I really think getting certified is the way to go; although you might be able to get provisional certification depending on the state. Keep in mind that an M.A.T. with a student-teaching component gives you experience in the high school classroom, provides a set of references who can speak directly to your teaching, and shows that you are serious about the transition to teaching.

I’ve never taught high school, but have many colleagues that did. If you primarily enjoy teaching the subject matter, you should really consider adjunct teaching at a community college. Classroom management is a much bigger part of the job at the high school level. There’s also cafeteria duty and bus duty and so on. Community college students may be underprepared academically, but they are there voluntarily so you just don’t have the same behavior issues.

Social Security is very state specific, and sometimes even district specific. Two year colleges in my state do participate in social security, but most K-12 districts do not.

My daughter works for our local school system. Principals seem to have a great deal of autonomy, at least on day to day issues, and how good of an experience you have can really vary significantly based on the principal. Also, be aware that K-12 tends to have a much more top down approach than you may have experienced at the college level.
Ron Ronnerson
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Ron Ronnerson »

I switched career paths in my late 20s and have been teaching in public schools for the past 17 years. I could not be happier to have made this change. I really like my job and look forward to working on most days. The summers off are pretty amazing too.

Switching to teaching is a process. I did substitute teaching for a couple of years in all subjects and grade-levels. This was good exposure to different environments. I would consider being a volunteer or becoming a substitute to see what you think about different schools and grades. In my case, after being a substitute, I changed my mind about what grade level I wanted to teach.

I would recommend getting a full credential and not look to bypass the typical path before you apply to teach in your own classroom. Many teachers struggle during the first few years. The credentialing program doesn’t focus so much on the content of what you’ll be teaching. Instead you learn about how to reach all students, how to manage a classroom, what to do about students who are struggling or finding the work too easy, etc. During the credentialing program, you are paired with different master teachers and get actual experience working with students while learning from someone who has been doing the job for a while. It’s practical stuff that will help you survive the first years. The credentialing program will require you to put in long hours for no pay but is well worth it. It’s not so much about the content matter as it is about everything else that goes into running a class. The job is complex enough as it is that you don't want to skip out on training that will really help you.

You will put in long hours for not much pay at the start of your teaching career. It will be exhausting and frustrating at times. You won’t have tenure or high seniority and could be moved around within the district like a hot potato. Be flexible and go in with reasonable expectations.

I taught at challenging schools during my first two years and transferred to a school with a very good reputation my third year and have been there for the past 15 years. The interview with the panel went well (so interviewing skills matter) and they seemed to appreciate the positive letter written by master teacher, whom many of the teachers interviewing me happened to know (so connections matter).

Your $2M portfolio puts you on much better footing for this career switch than I could have ever dreamt of in a million years. When I made the switch, I had a negative net worth whereas now it is seven figures. My wife is a stay-at-home parent and we didn’t inherit money. The key for us has been frugality, though luck certainly didn’t hurt over the past decade as assets appreciated nicely. We carefully went through every single expense to derive as much value out of our purchases as we could. Imagine if you could make your money go further through simple substitutions. This can be incredibly powerful. I can’t emphasize that enough.

On a different note, I got a master’s in education after I had already been a teacher for a couple of years. I knew many teachers don’t stay in the career and I wanted to wait until I was more confident that I wouldn’t be part of those statistics. I would get the credential but wait on the master’s degree for a little while.

After my first year of teaching, I didn’t like it very much and thought about going back to my previous line of work. However, I’d worked hard to get there so I told myself to put in one more year and gave myself permission to stop teaching after that if I wanted to do so. The second year went much better than the first (though it was still hard) and looking back, I can’t believe I got so close to leaving a job that I love so much now. It is both fun and brings purpose to my days. I would continue to teach even if I didn’t need the money.
Wenonah
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Wenonah »

I say go for it! I am a recent teaching retiree & currently a student teaching supervisor for a local college. (my DH was math/science teacher and most of my family members teach....) My niece just got two job offers to teach middle school math, and she is a first year teacher on her second career at 30. Math teachers are not easy to find, but STEM jobs are few and far between.
Regarding colleges, I was on several interview committees and we rarely cared where a teacher got their degree. Most programs are very much the same. We cared about their resume, recommendations, if they had experience teaching in the job they were interviewing for, etc.
You are right about classroom management. I would find a classroom management program if their is a crappy one in your program and follow it....Harry Wong/Dylan William... If kids walk into a class and there is a starter on the board/overhead/computer, then you have half the battle won..high expectations. Students will thrive under routines and procedures. Math is more cut and dried than most subjects and you won't have to correct essays or set up lab equipment.
It's great that you WANT to teach. If you end up having kids, you can go part time, but pay attention to your FTE.
I job-shared for 5 years when my kids were little and realized later had I been at a .6 then that would have counted as one whole year toward retirement, so I could have gotten 5 years, but I ended up with 2.5. And you are young, you could easily get in 15 or 20 years and wait to take your pension at 65. It won't be big---even with 30 years in most states, they are small, but it is a good reward for the rest of your life and adds up.
Teachers usually have good benefits and health care is not very expensive. I don't think any of my teacher friends pay more than 200.00 a month. Go for it! You will be great and principals will love that you have experience in a college. As FI you can quit or move whenever you want!
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fredflinstone
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by fredflinstone »

try substitute teaching and see how you like it.

Teaching is a noble pursuit but it can be stressful. If you are in a rough school, it's probably really hard and really stressful. You will have to deal with difficult kids, difficult parents, and possibly difficult administrators. You will spend a lot of time preparing for tests and administering tests.

If you decide teaching is not for you, why not simply leave the workforce? Take up pickleball or some other low-cost hobby. Read a lot of books. How about doing some volunteer work that is personally fulfilling to you (maybe be a Mathcounts coach at your local middle school)? $2 million is enough to live off of for the rest of your life if you live frugally. There are plenty of fun, inexpensive, fulfilling things one can do outside the workplace.
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Clever_Username
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Clever_Username »

I went to public school in Los Angeles for grades 7-12; allegedly, two (junior high and high school) of the better public schools, but then again, "best public school in the greater Los Angeles area" is somewhat akin to "Valedictorian of Summer School." Someone has the designation, but it doesn't make them particularly good.

I had three really good teachers in that time. I am sure they weren't the only three good teachers in the county. I learned long after I finished high school what brought them to teaching. Two had very successful careers (one as a lawyer, the other as an engineer) and went into teaching when they had their money and wanted something more satisfying. The third had a spouse with a lucrative career, probably didn't need to work as far as finances were concerned, but was very passionate about math education. I ended up in a math-adjacent field and I don't think I'd have been interested or capable without her influence. The point is, none of the three needed the money. I believe it wasn't a coincidence: when they weren't worried about what would happen if they lost their job, they could focus on doing what they wanted to do, educating students.

None were popular teachers among the students, and that's too bad, but then again, most of the students I went to high school with weren't there to learn, they were there to either be warehoused or to play school. Those three had a very positive profound impact on me, which is something I recognized at the time and made sure to tell them.

If you want to do this when you reach the point where you are employed for recreation rather than need, then congratulations and bless you for it and I wish you the best in doing so.
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New Providence
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by New Providence »

02nz wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:41 pm
New Providence wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:14 pm I am so confused with FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE RETIRE EARLY who still work or are looking for work.

In my mind, you haven't reached FIRE if you are working or looking for work. FIRE means that you have reached Financial Independence evidenced by Retiring Early.
Like most things in life, it's not binary. Some people reach FI but choose not to RE. Or they reach a level of financial freedom where they can work part-time or take a lower-paying job.
How's FI evidenced? Anybody who's working and has $10K, 100K or $1 million can say to have reached FI.

If you are still working, you are independent from what exactly?
donaldfair71
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by donaldfair71 »

New Providence wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:24 pm
02nz wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:41 pm
New Providence wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:14 pm I am so confused with FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE RETIRE EARLY who still work or are looking for work.

In my mind, you haven't reached FIRE if you are working or looking for work. FIRE means that you have reached Financial Independence evidenced by Retiring Early.
Like most things in life, it's not binary. Some people reach FI but choose not to RE. Or they reach a level of financial freedom where they can work part-time or take a lower-paying job.
How's FI evidenced? Anybody who's working and has $10K, 100K or $1 million can say to have reached FI.

If you are still working, you are independent from what exactly?
Having to work.

There’s a difference between working because you want to and working because you have to.
RevFran
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by RevFran »

+1 the triangle in NC. It meets all your criteria!

On NC credentialing see https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educat ... n-pathways
birnhamwood
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by birnhamwood »

You are smart to limit the districts in which you would teach to those that participate in Social Security. Google is your friend here. Just type in "Which (state) school districts participate in Social Security"? Of the four states you mention, only North Carolina participates. In Texas, only 16 districts (out of 1,000+) participate.
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

According to SSA, 35 states teachers participate in SS. Fifteen states do not. There are a few of the 15 states that kinda participate.

Hillsborough County participates in the SS system, one of the locations OP identified.

My father worked for a water management district in Florida, and received SS and a pension from FRS, the Florida Retirement System.

There was no reduction like WEP, or any other reduction

Teachers in Tampa do participate in SS. I know this as that was a consideration I investigated when I was helping my teacher friend. And, he is also in the FRS.

My father worked 25 years or so, retired at 55, and drew FRS retirement until his death at age 91. Not a bad run. :D

Although his retirement did not have an official COLA, his pension was increased periodically. It more than tripled during his retirement.

Broken Man 1999
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CyclingDuo
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by CyclingDuo »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:38 pmAccording to SSA, 35 states teachers participate in SS. Fifteen states do not. There are a few of the 15 states that kinda participate.
Many of those 15 states account for it somewhat by having a more generous pension payout plan than the other 35.

Regardless, for the 35 states that do participate in both pension and SS - neither income stream is designed to be the entire ball of wax when it comes to providing retirement income. It's the combination of the the two plus the third leg of the three legged stool - risk portfolio/savings - that will secure retirement. Controlling what one can control to make each leg as strong as possible is key. OP has a strong risk portfolio/savings leg and by working longer (even as a teacher) can beef up the SS leg and if a teaching job lands one with a pension and the rules/regulations are met to qualify for it by number of service years - Bingo!.

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OP will have met the criteria for Coast FIRE (probably already there) in a couple of years, so the move to teaching could be a very valuable career change for mind, body and soul without the level of financial stress. Sure, there is stress with a teaching job, but if finances are set - that alleviates one major stress a lot of teachers face.

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teacher2163
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by teacher2163 »

In Ohio where my wife and I teach, we do not pay into social security. In fact, we will both get reduced social security benefits from part time work and jobs we had before becoming public school teachers. It is called the Windfall Provision Act. Also in Ohio you can choose to contribute to the pension plan or just take the money schools pay in and invest the money yourself. Our pension plan is solid. If you teach 35 years and retire at age 60 you receive 78% of your salary. It is greatly reduced if you do not reach these benchmarks. Of course, every state is different.
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ram
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by ram »

RetiredMommy wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:41 am I taught forever, moved states (took a couple years off) and am now returning to the classroom... or maybe online depending on how districts decide to go! I just wanted to chime in that STEM jobs are much easier to get than LA/SS no matter where you want to work. I’ve taught in fantastic districts and my new, one (best in the state) hired me within a week of submitting my resume and materials.

I’d be very careful giving up a high paying job for teaching. Although I love teaching, remember that in your current situation every year is equal to 5-10years of teaching. Could you work 3-5 more years in your current situation, retire, and volunteer in the classroom?
I like teaching. I teach medical students and physicians in training. These are all highly motivated students which is what I prefer. When my kids were in school I knew many STEM teachers well. I was a volunteer high school honors biochemistry teacher and also helped the high school science bowl team with biology/medical questions on weekends. These teams won the state science bowl more than 50% of the time. There is always a shortage of good STEM teachers. Administrative hassles and disrespect / disorderly behavior from a subsection of the student body are common laments from school teachers. You mention teaching minority students and teaching in poorer countries. I assume that these were motivated students. Some of the K - XII students are in school not because they want to be there but because they are required to be there. Teaching this subset can be challenging and I suspect not everybody is suited to do so.
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mnnice
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by mnnice »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:08 pm
donaldfair71 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:05 pm So to answer your last question, not one regret at all. None. If someone handed me enough money to retire tomorrow, to “do whatever you want to do now that money isn’t an issue”, I’d wind up in the classroom.

The job is great. I have a lot of colleagues who want to act like it’s noble thing, and I guess it is to some, but for me I just wanted to help people share in my passions. Nothing more. That was why I left my father’s lumber company in my 20s, went up community college part time, and wound up getting my first job at almost 30. But it’s worked out.

There are a lot decisions to make regarding this move, and I would consider the following:

1. How willing are you to go work in schools that others aren’t willing to work in. Without getting into socioeconomic degrees, I will say that the “tougher schools”, ones with students who come from one or no parent backgrounds, these are easier to get into but for good reason: these are not easy jobs. But I worked in a school with massive difficulties in reading, writing, and math, and about 70% ESOL students, and it is incredibly rewarding. It’s also incredibly stressful. There are also schools with the exact 180 degree difference: I now teach in a school where only about 8% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. That’s a really really low number (wish it were zero but...). Are you willing to dive in to help in any situation? “No” is an ok answer.

2. Leads me to this, if possible, I would try to get to the biggest districts you can. A district like Prince William County Schools in NoVa has inherent advantages, with 14 high schools, that say Madison County, with one high school, doesn’t. Most of all, there of flexibility in finding a position you like, there exists probably 50x the mobility opportunities, and your benefit from scale: benefits are often better the bigger you get.

3. Lastly, just know that the pay will be average to good, but 1/3-1/2 your compensation is in benefits. That’s a good thing.

I said 3 was “last”, but last-last... It’s funny how even family will talk about how easy teachers have it, then will shrug when you suggest that they go into the profession, to get a certificate and apply. Only then, is it, “no I’m not a babysitter”. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
Thank you for this. I'm more than willing to work in a "tougher school" but just want to make sure I have the training/skills to do a good job. I know more often it depends on your classroom management skills rather than subject area knowledge. Point taken on finding a big enough school district.
I worked for ~20 years in public schools and have watched more teachers teach than most teachers have. You are very astute to recognize how important classroom management is. Unfortunately, even the best teacher training programs don’t talk about or teach much classroom management. I would look long and hard before selecting an alternative certification program if it looks easier than traditional routes. Two reasons 1)they often look to me like they skimp on field experiences where you actually learn classroom management . 2)You coworkers will think you took a shortcut and believe you to be inferior even if your skills are great.

I would keep your FI status on the downlow too. It could be a source of jealousy.
megabad
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by megabad »

Of the places you mentioned in your OP, I would only consider NC to be low cost of living. Not necessarily a big deal but your other locations are significantly more expensive places to live than NC. Other low cost of living areas that might meet your standards are Nashville, TN area or Atlanta, GA suburbs (ie Marietta or similar).

I agree with your approach on retaining SS accumulation so would check on each locations policy there. I don’t value state pensions at all. In fact I consider them a major negative in most cases.

I think in a few years you will be close to FI as you indicate if you want to be (ie move to a LCOL area). At your current expenses, you might not have a lot left over if you were to never work again but it would be doable I think.

I think this may have been brought up before but I agree that there is a high demand for teachers over the intermediate to long term in the US. However, I believe essentially all of this demand will be in poor urban school districts. In my area, the wait list for Teacher employment in the suburbs is about 3 years for an entry level teacher. In the city a few miles down the road, they will take you immediately, and pay you more (slightly). Up to you where you feel comfortable working.

A couple of other thoughts:
1) you are wise to get an education degree. This is required in some jurisdictions. There is no other path to certification in some areas. I am horribly against this but it is a simple fact. I would do this via night school and continue working current job if possible.

2) is spouse ready to abandon the startup position as well? That would be a pretty big deciding factor.

3) I know many many teachers (I am living with one and related to several others). Most of the career teachers (that have never done anything else) tend to complain frequently about job difficulties like administration issues and bad kid behavior. They also complain about low pay (understandably). Exactly zero of the career change teachers complain. I know three: a former lawyer, a former software engineer, and a former doctor. So I am confident that they have taken quite the pay cut to teach and have zero complaints. I think it helps to keep that in perspective. I don’t think some folks understand that everybody sometimes gets a bad manager or has to work long hours for little pay. That said, if they didn’t get summers off, I think that might be a deal breaker.
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MissHavisham
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by MissHavisham »

cncm wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:38 pm Would appreciate any insights/advice from this community...especially teachers and those who have continued to work in a second career after reaching financial independence.

The plan: I want to... hopefully land a job in a good school district.

My questions:
2) Given how challenging teaching is and the high attrition rate, one thing I'm looking into is whether teachers in these states continue to contribute to social security. I don't mind losing out on a pension if I don't end up teaching for 30 years (actually very unlikely to do that) but I don't want to end up with no/little social security as well. Am I right in making that a top priority? And if so, Boston would be eliminated as MA doesn't cover teachers for social security. Also, I'm interested in moving to part-time work at some point if we do end up having kids (e.g. work as substitute teacher).

4) Would love to hear from current teachers on what things I need to consider when job hunting to maximize my chance of landing in a good school district. Also, my understanding is it should be fairly easy to find a job as a math/STEM teacher given it's in high demand - please correct me if I'm wrong!

Thanks in advance for everyone's advice/insights!
With respect, you and the rest of America wants to land a job in a "good" school district. You may have ABSOLUTELY no idea what you are in for. :happy Choose wisely! I get what you are saying about your previous experience teaching abroad and to adults, but as a middle school teacher I can tell you that the amount of disrespect you will be forced to stomach is unbelievable. You can't really compare that to real full blown classroom teaching in America today. Are you prepared to be blamed for everything? Are you prepared to have administrators throw you under the bus and not support you? Education is the wild, wild west.

Before you go back to school to get your MAT, I would suggest taking a job as a teacher's aide in a school so you can see first hand how it really goes down. This will save you time and money and living breathing it is worth it's weight in gold.

In my opinion, yes, you should eliminate those that do not pay into SS.

You are sort of right that it should be fairly easy to land a job as a STEM teacher but be careful. Being certified in a high need field doesn't necessarily mean you will work in a "good" district. "Good" districts do not want first year teachers with no experience. They want you to be dual certified. That means they won't look at your application unless you also have your special education cert, science cert, ss cert, or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification. "Good" districts are typically composed of two parent households and those parents are VERY demanding. Those districts typically want teachers with at least 5 years experience.


I am a middle school science teacher in a low income school district and I absolutely love my job and adore my kids. However, had I known about the bureaucracy/politics etc I would've just been a garbage man.

My undergrad is Geology B.A, my masters is Geoscience, I'm NASA STEM certified and have 8 years experience and I'm getting Physics certified now. That is what they want to see on a resume in a "good" school.

To be completely honest, my advice to you is to determine what type of personality you have. You have to be funny, quick witted, assertive, and a strong personality to handle being a teacher. You can be as smart or overqualified but nothing compares to charisma. That is what really matters. So the #1 thing you need to consider is how you plan handle kids getting in your face cursing you out. How are you going to handle when they lift tables up and throw them? How are you going to handle a student that doesn't speak English with no support in the room? How are you going to teach to a classroom of 30 kids with only 24 chairs? Are you nimble? Are you a ninja?

People should only become teachers if they really have a true gift for teaching. Like teaching picks them, not the other way around. I think if you have the personality for it you will be an excellent teacher. Also, the fact that you would have F you money would make you even better. You would't have to walk on eggshells and deal with all the negativity.

I guess I was very naive when I first started teaching. I thought I was there to teach the kids. I didn't realize that the unions where insane and would walk the hallways after school and tell you to leave b/c you're staying after contract and making the teachers who leave at the bell look bad.

Please please please go to reddit and read the teacher forums. Good Luck!!! and remember to get dual certified.
chipperd
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by chipperd »

Not sure where you are thinking, but someone mentioned Tampa. Starting salary there is 40k .(https://www.tampabay.com/news/gradebook ... -teachers/)
I worked in a few school top districts in a top 5 performing state for about 20 years. Given the typical budget restrictions, it's tough to get a gig in a top district with just a bachelors, so MA/MS is a good idea. No quibbles with the goal but starting salary was pretty low (mid 40's) and more and more teachers are asked to kick in more of that number for healthcare.
Find out from your state what you need to be come a certified teacher. Also find out if the county you have in mind, or that district has additional certification requirements.
And don't forget, your teacher income won't count towards your social security. You will get a pension, typically tho it's a combination of age plus years worked that has to equal a number to start to qualify for that pension.
Google "teacher contract x school district union pdf" to find out the current teacher contract. Those details, plus much more you will need to know to decide how to proceed, will be in the 100 or so page document.
As someone mentioned, are you sure that you can access your savings to pay for living costs? You can use Roth to pay for school, but your estimates for your costs to just live, coupled with grad school, seem off to me. I could be wrong.
Best of luck
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Ruttiger
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by Ruttiger »

We have different backgrounds, but eagerly following this discussion. I've thought about getting into teaching when I FIRE, but mainly as a way to give back, not as an income source. I have a technical degree. My dad was a school teacher. I've never taught school, but have taught people at work, coached, tauggt adult literacy, and instructed at various levels in various areas.

I liked your earlier posts describing your reasons and interests. I think youre looking to do a great thing and will have a positive impact on people's lives.

R.
jeffarvon
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by jeffarvon »

In my early 50’s DW & I were sufficiently FI that I started down the path to become a secondary math teacher. In total a 5-year journey (by choice). I worked in software engineering at a mega-corp that allowed me flexibility to start regularly volunteering in a community HS school. I also took 1-2 pre-requisite courses for my MS in education. Then, my company allowed me to go part-time and even take a leave of absence to complete my student teaching (+1 vote to those above recommending a traditional teacher certification from a university for the preparation and the connections to the local school districts).

I’m starting my 6th year in a HS program for students who don’t connect with traditional HS. Have worked for 2 principals. I’ve not experienced poor administration. I’m (definitely) not a capital M methodology person (remember, I worked at a telecommunications mega-corp) but any sane person would have some methodology. I guess I don’t know what people expect. Or maybe it’s just me and my history of saying “Okay mom” and then doing what I was going to do.

I don’t use the word passion, but I find I spend a lot of time on this (by choice). I really enjoy teaching. I lived/worked in a paradise island situation. My wife was a nurse, seeing/interacting with all of society. Thought I should experience. “It’s only life after all” -- Indigo Girls.

Regarding “classroom management” search for the topic of carpenter vs gardener teaching/parenting. This gave me philosophical peace. You’re there to be kind to kids and honor your content.

References to STEM teaching are too broad here in Ohio. I have a math certification and will separately go thru hoops to get a computer science certification (even with my degrees and 35 year software career). I would not suggest being a (general/daily) substitute teacher. By observation, this will not give anything like the experience of a teacher. Relationships really matter. Maybe a long-term sub position would be okay.
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BrendanP
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by BrendanP »

Wow so many good responses already - what more can I add?

I went into teaching after getting my PhD in engineering.
Now have 10 years under my belt teaching in the South Bronx- started with math and shifted to CS/technology.

Highly recommend that you visit/volunteer/sub in as many different schools as possible. Schools vary tremendously-especially in NYC and there are pros and cons to each. There's plenty of schools that I would be happy at, and just as many that I would never want to teach at.

Definitely try to network through some teaching friends as many schools aren't receptive to random people who show up and want to help out.

Feel free to message me with any questions.
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MissHavisham
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by MissHavisham »

I forgot to mention that you should also consider:

1) Whether or not you like Air Conditioning. Many classrooms have no AC. Imagine being on the top floor of the school with 30 kids in the room with no air conditioning.

2) How long can you hold your pee? You are not allowed to leave your students unattended to run to the bathroom. My schedule requires me to teach 4 back to back 1 hour classes (so think 7:30-11:30). Can you hold your pee that long? You can only go to the bathroom if the teacher across the hall is willing to stand in the middle of the hallway and eye both classes (on camera). What if the teacher across from you is mean or not friendly. They will NOT help you.

3) Are you okay with kids taking your picture unknowingly? and then using your face to make meme's on the internet?

I promise you I am not jaded and that I adore my job, I am just a serious realist. :happy
flaccidsteele
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Re: Becoming teacher after reaching FIRE? Advice needed!

Post by flaccidsteele »

OP, teach on a social media platform

That’s what I do. I have 45,000 “students”

I teach when I want. Unlimited bathroom breaks. No whining. No inter-school politics. A/C all day every day.
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