Would You Change Careers to Become a Teacher?

Posted by Liz Dwyer

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Forget that offensive adage, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." One of the most successful sportswriters of all time, 57-year-old USA Today journalist Steve Wieberg, has left his storied career behind to become a high school English teacher in the tiny 2,400-person town of Lawson, Missouri.

Did Wieberg watch Dead Poets Society one too many times and start picturing himself as the kind of creative, unorthodox teacher that encourages students to stand on desks and seize the day? Not exactly. He told the Sherman Report that he'd had enough of his grueling travel schedule and being subjected to the "whims of breaking news". He'd "lost the balance between work and life," and his experience as a substitute teacher and coaching his son's sports teams made him realize that he wanted to step into the classroom.

Wieberg's not alone in his desire to become a teacher. A 2011 report (PDF) from the National Center for Education Information found that in the 2007-08 school year, one third of new teachers were career changers. It takes courage to stand in front of a classroom of students under the most ideal circumstances, but at a time when educators are blamed for the problems facing public education and expected to produce greater student achievement gains despite cuts to essential programs and resources, choosing to be a teacher is a real act of courage. While Wieberg will undoubtedly do his best to inspire his students to love literature and writing, given the long hours teachers work, that balance he's looking for might be tough to come by.