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Profile of ku7uk3

I am interested in finding out how many children's entertainers / magicians use to be teachers, and have since left the profession. Or anyone who left teaching, why they did so.

It was interesting hearing some of the facts such as the average lifetime of a teacher is 4 years before they quit, and almost all suffer from extreme stress.
They have now fast-tracked the teaching qualification to 6 months, when it use to be 4 years. In order to get more teachers to keep the schools running.

I left (secondary / high school) teaching because it required me to be cruel and angry at the kids, in order to maintain classroom control.
There is a saying that goes 'You cannot smile for the first year of your job'. I had been a children's entertainer for 10 years before I became a teacher, and smiling was second nature. I loved entertaining children and believed that my experience could help and develop further as a teacher. I was very wrong and it was the most stressful time of my life, which I am glad to have got out of.

I am now back doing magic shows full time and I love my job. Is my experience unique or is it shared with any others?

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Profile of jimhlou
Your experience does not bode well for the future of our kids. It's too bad that qualified teachers such as yourself quit teaching because of our current society's attitudes. I think this country is in serious trouble unless we can get and keep good teachers - half the kids today can't read or write. The internet is full of misspelled words such as to, too, were, we're, etc. America's leading position in the world is slipping, and I can see a day when Japan and China will be the world's super powers.

Sorry about the rant - congratulations on your career as a magician. Everyone should be happy with what they're doing, and as someone once said, if you really enjoy your job, the money will come. Keep smiling.

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wrote the theme to the TV show COPS!
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Profile of Lyndel
I wasn't a teacher, but had another high stress job - police officer.

By days I would have to ruin peoples days by giving them traffic tickets, arresting them, or delivering them news that their kid just died in a car accident. Or I would wrestle violent drunks from bars, get shot at, and was once even stabbed during an arrest. ...By night I was in front of audiences being Mr. Funny man making them laugh and have a good time. It was my yin and yang I guess you could say.

One day I came to the realization that although law enforcement provided a steady pay check, what it didn't provide me was the satisfaction of making people happy. Magic won and I quit my police job 13 years ago.

Performing has been much less stressful than my former career and since becoming an entertainer, I have only been shot at 11 times! (oops, sorry, that was Mr. Funny man talking again...)

Ken Northridge
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Atlantic City, NJ
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Profile of Ken Northridge
Hi Steve,

Sounds like you were born to entertain.

My wife was a High School teacher also and had a similar experience. Although I was not a teacher, I took a 12 year break from magic shows with the idea that it would be better for me to have a real job. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Having gone through that experience, I’ll bet you are much more appreciative of what you have now. So those shows that get a little out of hand don’t bother you as much. You realize how lucky you are even if you have a bad show now and then.

In other words what does not kill you makes you stronger.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Hong Kong, China
1218 Posts

Profile of magicbern
In my humble opinion, you can do both with equal satisfaction. I have been teaching for 20 years and balance that rewarding profession with a part-time job of being a magician (usually weekends and school holidays). I wouldn't change my main career for anything as I believe to be a teacher contributes to the future of society in a small way. Also, being able to maintain a class of 40 hyperactive teenagers is a challenge unmatched by the usual birthday party crowd. I would say you can get the best of both worlds without sacrificing either.
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Profile of RJE
Wow Steve! Where were you teaching???

I have been a high school teacher for the past 22 years and have little problems with displine and class control. I often use my entertainment to help keep the class running smooth.

I happen to know that James Biss is also a full time high school teacher and there are many other lesser known, but very able semi pro magicians that spend their days in the classroom too that I am aware of.

For me the decision was the other way around. I dropped out of high school as a student and after plowing through all sorts of unskilled labour jobs, decided to go to university and make a better life for myself.

To pay for my education, I started performing magic. My magic career began to take off during this time.

It took a total of 7 years from beginning my post secondary education journey to the hiring to a teaching position. At the end of that 7 years, I was then faced with a choice, take the teaching job, or pursue the magic career? I felt that I had invested a lot in the education, so I went with teaching.

The magic career began to sputter as a result. In my first year of teaching, I was still receiving calls from agents to see if I was available to work cruise ships, hotels abroad, conventions in foreign countries, television spots and the usual local, regional and national shows. I had to turn most of them down, because I had promised my principal that I would not take time off of school to perform.

I was able to stay on as a member of A Little Night Magic in Toronto, a cabaret dinner theatre show, for 4 years. Other members of this show included David Ben, Jay Sankey, Glenn Ottaway, Fred Stinson (would become Major Bedhead on PBS's Big Comfy Couch) and other great magicians and jugglers. The show ran 5 nights a week, with 2 shows often on Friday and Saturday nights.

Upon leaving that show, I expanded into doing stand up comedy as well as magic shows of many various types.

We, my wife Pat and I, still get to perform around 100 shows a year. We do get to travel afar occaisionally, but the majority of our shows are now within about 1000 km/600 mile range from our home (about a one day's drive).

The solid base I created almost 30 years ago has helped with our show business today. I have been able to keep in touch with some of the agents I first began to work with over 2 decades ago.

Being around for so long and establishing a solid reputation has also opened a lot of new doors for us in entertainment as well. It has allowed us to create a list of solid high end clients including casinos, resorts, large promoters and public and private corporations.

I have only 6 more years to go until I can retire from teaching and even though, at times there does not seem to be enough hours in the day and our entertainment income will exceed my teaching income some years, I plan on staying in the classroom until that time. I kinda like it there. I get to "perform" every day for my students.

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Harris Deutsch
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Profile of harris
I have been working 9 + years with middle and high school students. Entertainment is part time done professionally full time.

My position is more like a counselor(community based in the schools) rather than a teacher. Most of our teachers have been here much longer than I have. Some retire and still come back to sub.

My school based position does help me with credentials with certain markets.

still 2 old to know everything...
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
Tim Hannig
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Chicago area
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Profile of Tim Hannig
I wasn't a teacher, but I worked for AT&T for one year selling phone systems to businesses.

I did that right after college, as I thought I should get what I call a "real job" since I now had the expensive degree. LOL

I went back to what I loved in July, 1994, and have never looked back!
Author of PERFORM...all the stuff to think about

Over 450 pages, hardcover, full color

"I loved this book!" - Ken Weber

"4 out of 4 stars - highly recommended" - Nick Lewin

"Chock full of ideas that will make me more $$ and my shows more professional!" - Leif David

Foreword written by Joshua Jay

Tim's book and other goodies to help performers here...

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Profile of tiriri
I teach at a university in Quito, and actually I do sometimes use magic as a teaching method. It works extremely well! In my spare time I am a part time magician.

I have found that the combination is great, both parts of my daily life being fun for me and not only for my students.

I also work as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands from time to time, especially during university holidays, and I also use magic then with tourists from all over but especially from the States, and the guests I work with love it as my students at the university do.

So I think that magic can be combined with other professions in such a way that will make them more enjoyable for you and also for your different audiences.

Best regards from the middle of the world,

The Great Smartini
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Profile of The Great Smartini
For the past 14 years I've taught full time in the public school system and I've never had any major discipline issues with students. In fact my teaching partner and I have come to be the class where those students who have had behaviour issues are usually placed. My experience has been that a great majority of the behaviour problems are can be resolved by really listening to what the students have to say. If they feel heard and respected it really provides a great environment for good things to happen. Still, as much as I love teaching I found that working full time as a teacher limited me in what I wanted to do with my magic.

Just over a year ago my family suffered a great tragedy with the sudden and unexpected loss of our 6 year old son Jonah. Not surprisingly this event has caused us to re-examine just about every part of our lives. One of the changes that has occurred is the decision to work less so that I could spend more time with my magic. I currently work three days a week as a middle school teacher and this leaves me 4 days to go out and perform. One nice thing in being a teacher is that every day you're a performer. I read a book like The Five Points in Magic by Juan Tamariz and I can go to school and practice this skill for 5 hours a day. I really like playing the role of a magical educator as the goal of the magician and the goal of the teacher are to create a sense of wonder in the mysteries of our world.

Chad C.
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Profile of Chad C.
I taught middle school for one year and then high school biology the next 2 years. I stopped for two reasons - one, I was called to pastor at my church after the death of my father-in-law who was the former pastor (I had been filling in for about a year) and two, I wanted to do magic as my "main" job, as the church is a "part-time" position - meaning no office hours during the week. Magic became my main source of income after that.

I would not go back to teaching at this point, although the majority of my shows are school shows - so I'm still around students all the time. I was also a Youth Pastor for 5 years during that time so I know what it's like to be around middle/high schoolers. Discipline is one of those things that you learn more about every year you teach. My professor's always said during college to teach at least 3 years and then decide if you like it or not as the first couple of years are rough as you gain experience.

The problem with teaching is that many students have zero support at home so it's hard to motivate them at school when you are the only one that seems to care - and the parents think you are a babysitter. It's a lot different than when I was in school and that was only 11 years ago when I graduated high school.

Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs there is - you definitely need that break during the summer. Whenever someone says teachers have great hours because of the summers off, I want to slap them and tell them that the summer is where you regain your sanity! But it does work out well if you are wanting to do magic part time as you have that whole summer and the weekends off!

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Profile of ku7uk3
I was a new teacher, who only worked for a year in a secondary school with a very bad reputation. As a new guy coming into teaching, I suffered the blunt force of the stress. The new national curriculum, the bad students, the bitter staff, the depressing daily staff meetings that went on about how some other child died the day before.

You guys that say you enjoy teaching have been doing it for many, many years. Perhaps the school system was different when you started and you are now more adjusted to the classroom and can handle all the new initiatives they are shoveling down our throats each day.
I was forced to make every student produce a piece of paperwork in each class, that I had to mark and offer feedback on in my own free time, for every class.
If you sent a child out for any reason, they would get a slap on the wrist and be sent immediately back in by someone else.
I tried to issue a detention and the head of department stopped me, because she knew what problems those kids were having at home - But it undermined my authority to an extent that they knew they could get away with murder in every class after that!

You are right however that the school itself is a key factor in job happiness. If you have a lot of support and enjoy the company of your fellow staff members, it certainly takes the edge off. In my last job, that definitely wasn't the case for me.

It has taken my ambition away to ever teach in a formal classroom again. But that's not a bad thing, because the magic business is doing quite well and its a job I enjoy thoroughly.

It's interesting hearing each others thoughts though.
Ron Reid
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Profile of Ron Reid
Hello Steve:

Here is a system of Classroom Management that will bring the joy back to teaching if you ever decide to go back. It works on the most difficult students and classes:

It takes a while to learn but is pretty close to being in the miracle category.

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Profile of KidMagic

This has certainly got me thinking about my career choices, of course I love magic and would love to be doing it full-time. Although I am only grade 9 I was planning on going to college/university to become a teacher (or possibly just a suply). I thought that teaching would be a perfect job because the majority of the shows (if not all) are either after school on Friday, or on a weekend/holiday. I thought if I was to become a teacher I could keep performing all the shows I am currently doing on weekends etc, and bring in some cash on the side by teaching. Is it really that horrible?

Magically yours,
KidMagic/Zachary Gauthier
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Profile of ku7uk3
It really depends on the school you are in, as to how much you will enjoy the job. But it is very long hours, and you'll be working every night marking course work and every weekends planning next weeks lessons.

You won't do many shows for two reasons:

1. Most the clients phone to make a booking Mon-Fri, between 9-5. You will not be in, and will be unable to handle any calls while in class, which is always. So basically, you won't get the work in the first place, because you'll not be around to answer the phone.

2. Your workload will be huge, and for the first two years at least, you'll be spending every weekend learning the subject you have to teach. Then after two years, the curriculum will probably change and it will take another year to get your head around that.

Teaching is like having two full-time jobs. If you do magic as well, it will be draining on you to an extent that both will most-likely suffer. Especially for the first few years. Once you get established, then it does get easier - but not always. In my short time at two schools, I witnessed many teachers quit due to stress, midway through the year. Some who had been teachers for years, simply couldn't handle another curriculum change set by the government. Although they all took their 6 months of sick-pay before leaving!

For me, teaching was about making over people's dreams come true, and helping others achieve what they wanted. It dawned on me that my life was therefore wasted potential, and that my own dreams and ambitions were going unanswered.
I was simply a cog in the system and would never be anything more. I would not get famous, not get rich. I wouldn't be remembered and the most I could ever hope for was that some student will learn a bit more about ICT, which wouldn't help them in the slightest when signing on. Most of the students and staff will either hate you or forget about you.
It was all about trying to help a child that is not your own, and saying goodbye to ever having a dream of your own. - That and a lot of paperwork.
I was not willing to accept that, although I was at the time of teaching. This revelation came after my experience.
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Hong Kong, China
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Profile of magicbern
KU7UK3, that's a really sad and depressing view of a very rewarding profession. However, as I don't teach in the UK and I didn't have your personal experience, I can't really comment on it. My only hope is that it doesn't deter others from joining the teaching field.

As an experienced teacher in Hong Kong, all I know is that although often I deal with a lot of problems and have to face a lot of challenges posed by curriculum changes and 'paperwork' I have never found teaching 'stressful'. It all depends on whether you view things as challenging or threatening.

For me, performing part-time is a 'release' and an opportunity to spread a little joy through magic and earn a bit of extra money too! Magic paid my way through university and grad school so I guess I do owe the field in a way!

I guess the only thing I agree with is the fact that if you think that to help society and the next generation achieve their dreams is 'wasted potential' then perhaps its good that you left the field and took your pessimism and negativity with you! I firmly believe that we teachers do affect each and every student but perhaps not in the way or at the speed we expect. I have never felt my life has been wasted; on the other hand, I have always felt that in helping others I have achieved tremendous success. Sorry for getting on my 'soapbox', but I do believe that teaching is a worthwhile and respectful profession - but I accept that it isn't for everyone.

As for the argument that you will lose business from not being able to take calls, I find that rather silly. There are such services as voicemail and most clients are content with waiting a few hours to have their calls returned to them. That is unless they are so impatient that they have a list of possible entertainers and then just call down the list until they find someone to fir their budget and need for immediate gratification. In that case, I prefer NOT to take such bookings because that may meant that they are too demanding. So if I am even slightly detained by traffic, they may not be able to accept any explaination or reasonable excuse.

Similarly, as for the perceived 'unbearable workload' its all a matter of time management. In Hong Kong we have also been facing a lot of educational reforms which entail going to lots of development courses in our spare time. However, its all manageable - and I even manage to get in an hour of exercise every day!

So to KidMagic and others, I would say to combine teaching and part-time magic is a great career choice and will bring you great satisfaction and a stable side-income. However, as ku7UK3 states quite explicitly, if you want personal fame and glory as a kidshow magician (however long it lasts) then perhaps you need to rethink. Personally, I'd rahter have a lasting impact as an educator than be part of fleeting childhood memories as a party magician.

To each their own! Allow me to leave you with an inspiring quote which I read somewhere: 'Teach a child...Touch a life'
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Profile of RJE

Go for it. Being a teacher in Ontario is great. ku7uk3 is talking about being a teacher in a different country altogether and quite frankly, it sounds like a really stupid school system that some idiot developed. (The system you worked in being called stupid and idiotic ku7uk3, not you Smile )

ku3uk7, seriously, your description of the work environment you were in sounds like a bad movie. Why would anyone want to work in that?

The system here in Ontario is quite fantastic. Our current contract is going to be pushing our salaries to close to 6 figures. We get full benefits including dental, eye glasses, medical, drug plan, long term disability. We have each year about 12 weeks in holidays, including the months of July and August off. We have total job security, protected by contract. Our pension plan is one of the richest in the world, valued in the billions of dollars and is indexed, meaning we receive raises to equal the cost of living every year. We are required to be in the school 15 minutes before the first class and 15 minutes following the last class, which means our work day is from approximately 8:30 am to 3 pm. We are not required to do any work outside of that time, but we can at our own descretion. Included in that 6 1/2 hours each day is 2 hours and 15 minutes to mark, prepare lessons and eat your lunch. In other words, you teach only 3 hours and 45 minutes each day.

Zach, as an Ontario high school teacher with 22 years of experience, I can tell you that you will have plenty of time to perform in your magic career and a secure and rewarding educational career. Your students will also love having a magician as a teacher.

As to it being draining on a new teacher, that is simply not true. For my first 3 years of teaching I was teaching full time, performing in A Little Night Magic up to 5 nights a week and taking 3 distance university courses each year to upgrade my teaching status. If I had of taken just another 1/2 university course each year I would have qualified as a full time university student. In other words, for the first 3 years of my teaching career, I had 2 full time jobs and almost qualified as a full time university student as well!
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Profile of ku7uk3
I'm moving to Canada!

I had to be at school for 7-30am. They had a staff meeting at 8am that basically informed us about whatever tragedy happened the previous day and last night - this was every single day, and boy what a great way to start the day!

First class was 8-30am, and then it was non-stop until 3-15pm. I fortunately only had 4 classes in a row, rather than the 6 some other teachers had. Each class lasted an hour. At 3-15, it was time to mark the students work, unless I was running the after-school drama club that I got roped into. At 4-30, when the marking was finished, I would go home and plan my lessons for the next day. Developing starters, plenaries and tasks. All accumulated into a mandatory 8 page lesson plan for each lesson. That would take me until about 7pm. With a sandwich to eat while I was working, I continued into the late night by learning another computer software program (Macromedia Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver) because the school had just changed curriculum's and I was teaching it that week, as I was learning it myself. I was one step ahead of the students.
At 2am, I finally stopped trying to understand the package as it was all becoming a blur and got 4 hours sleep until I was up at 6am to get ready for work again. I left home at 7am to repeat the cycle.

I don't deny that sleep deprivation probably played a huge part in my mental instability towards the end, when I finally left.

I know my experience was unique. I worked in two schools, and my first school was great. It was local and only had 2 staff meetings a week. It was relaxed, the staff and students liked me, and I could actually see myself teaching there. But the second school I went too messed up my head - badly. It put me off teaching for life, and I know I shouldn't run away from teaching entirely based on that school, but it has done. I hate it now, they ruined the profession for me.

In the UK, the national statistics say a newly qualified teacher lasts 4 years until they quit, In the US, its 2 years (according to a bit of Internet research). There are more teachers on stress leave than almost all other occupations.

But I advise anybody interested in teaching to give it a go. The qualification itself will open a lot of doors for you. You might like it, and go to a decent school. You can always quit if its not for you, but don't not try because of what anybody has said on here. Don't listen to me, or anybody else. Make the decision yourself, and just know that whatever that decision is, you are not alone and others share your feelings.

Besides, in the UK, they pay you £12,000 to go on the course to become a qualified teacher and have reduced the course from 4 years to 6 months!!! You can even come over here on a student visa and get free accommodation and everything.
Working with children has always been my goal, but the teaching establishment, with all its paperwork and politics wasn't for me.


P.S. Teaching is a worthwhile profession, and helping others was and still is my main purpose. I still teach classes in magic for free whenever the opportunity arises. I still try and make a difference with new tricks, DVDs and books that educate others.
But I am also right by saying that I will never get famous, rich, or fulfil my own ambitions of greatness by locking myself in the classroom. It is a profession that once your in it, there is no-place higher to go.
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Profile of bsears
I AM the statistic. I did, indeed, spend four years in the classroom and left to pursue magic full-time after encountering behavioral problems that were off the charts and adults who couldn't (or wouldn't) control their students.

I saw fights, unbelievable levels of disrespect, and even saw a teacher assaulted. I saw a system which is broken, passing along students who were violent and failing all of their classes. I saw burnt-out teachers who were ineffective, yet couldn't be fired. I saw parents who would rather fight the teachers than help them.

This was not inner-city. This was in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Yes, I had some great days too, but not enough for me to stay. Some of this was certainly due to the school district I was teaching in, but I think there are some major changes that need to be made in all of America's schools.
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Sanger, CA
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Profile of puppeterry
I was a substitute teacher for over 20 years (one semester full-time), and then I went to work full-time for the library because THEY wanted me. Now, I have my Master's degree in Library & Information Science and I'm a children's librarian. I tell people that I get to do more real teaching as a librarian than I ever got to do in the schools.

TV Mc Arthur
The Librician
TV Mc Arthur
The Librician
Fresno (CA) County Public Library
"They don't get better.....just faster."
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