Who Are Non-Traditional Writing Teachers?

food for thought...(15 seconds) (common stereotypes of non-traditional students)

Second career teachers are often referred to as "non-traditional" or "adult" students, though key differences between adult preservice teachers and traditional age students may blur in today's educational climate where more traditional students hold full time jobs and attend school part time. Generally second career preservice teachers are at least 24 years old, have a had a first career in a field other than English Language Arts education, and "are more likely to have had extensive and varied experiences in all areas, including marriage, parenthood, full time employment, and travel" (Post and Killian 10). In addition, as in the case of Terry and Sally, the two non-traditional students featured in this essay, they are also more likely to be female (King and Bauer, 1988; Limbert, 1991).

The term "second career" teacher may also be somewhat misleading. For example, many adult students have had extensive teaching experience despite the fact that their first career was not formally within English Language Arts instruction. These findings raise questions about previous studies that seem to indicate that preservice teachers hail from paths other than teaching and in fact, directly chose a career outside teaching. For instance, Dianne Chambers notes, "When choosing a first career, these teachers believed careers other than teaching represented success; some feared violence in the schools; others were disheartened by experiences in early educationclasses; and many sensed that teaching lacked status and offered few financial rewards" (214). In this view, those that choose teaching as a second career have previously changed their mindset, though others such as Crow, Levine, and Nager (1990) note that teaching is essentially a "homecoming" for those who always had the passion, but not the financial or practical means to pursue it (197). In the clips below, both Sally and Terry describe their individual paths to becoming writing teachers:









Sally's History (2:21)




Terry's History (1:20)