“Confused and conflicted:” Education majors face unpredictable career path

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Amber Higgins

The School of Education moved to remote learning last March, forcing education majors to adapt to remote learning.

As COVID-19 shapes what a teacher’s daily life looks like, Michigan State education majors are nervous for what is to come upon graduation. 

These barriers to keep students and teachers safe are making some students question whether this is the path they want to continue with during their college years. Aaron Iturralde, Michigan State University sophomore, said he feels confused about his future as a teacher. 

“I’m so passionate about working with students, educating students. But at the end of the day, I also need to worry about myself, where I’m at mentally, emotionally, and socially. Teaching right now is very financially and emotionally draining,” said Iturralde. 

Teachers are being put in a position they have never been in before. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines have been constantly changing since schools first closed in March 2020 and educators are proving themselves to be adaptable under stressful circumstances. 

“I don’t think our society is really valuing teachers right now through this pandemic. We are asking them to do so much and they are answering that call, but they are not being compensated for that,” said Iturralde. According to the State Department of Education, the average teacher salary is $61, 978. 

Education majors working with children are getting a glimpse of their future. Holly Cleaver, Michigan State education major and employee of Bailey Preschool and Childcare Center, is already feeling these hardships of connecting with children with the guidelines. 

“We have infants to 12-year-olds, we get to see any age but with the younger ones it can make it hard if they just want to be held or sit in someone’s lap, but you can’t do that,” said Cleaver. “It will make things a little more difficult but I think that it would still be worth it for me. I get a lot of fulfillment out of working with kids. I think that it would just be another challenge.” 

Cody Harrell, East Lansing High School teacher, said connecting with students is not going to be as easy as before. He has worked with students prior and during the pandemic. Even with the hardship, he understands why these guidelines are in place. 

“One of the best parts of this year has been teaching my students, especially in journalism classrooms, how to be adaptable,” said Harrell. 

Passion plays a big role in this career. After a year of online teaching, Harrell is confident that this is exactly where he should be, even if it was unexpected. 

“I think this is absolutely the job I’m meant to do and the students I’m meant to work with,” said Harrell.