Career Story: Elementary School Outdoor Science And Ecology Instructor

Elementary School Outdoor Science And Ecology Instructor

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for the Johnston County (North Carolina) school system.

Education: BA, Psychology, North Carolina State University •• K-6 Teaching Certification, Meredith College •• Reading Recovery Graduate Courses, East Carolina University •• I am currently working on my MS in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, North Carolina State University.

Previous Experience: I taught literacy, first grade, kindergarten, and outdoor science for seven years, then became an outreach education specialist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for four years. I am now back at two schools teaching literacy and outdoor science.

Job Tasks: I work at two schools in my county teaching literacy and outdoor science to pre-K through 5th grade students.

Three days a week, I go to one school where, throughout the month, I work with third through fifth graders, taking a class at a time outside to teach them experiential, hands-on science activities. We focus on natural science activities centered around wildlife, plants, insects and spiders, butterfly gardening, trees, ecology, bird observation, and creek and pond life.

The rest of the time at that school, and the other two days at the other school, I teach approximately 8 small literacy groups per day. These groups consist of approximately five or six struggling readers for about half an hour per group. At one school I am working with 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders (for the fifth graders I am incorporating social studies as well), and at the other school I am working with kindergarten, first, and second graders.

I also help coordinate parent and staff workshops for literacy and science, and coordinate with the school beautification committee for school beautification days.

At each school, I sponsor the Green Kids Environmental Science Club, which meets every couple of weeks to do outdoor science and eco-friendly activities.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are seeing the marked growth and improvement in the students from what you've taught them, and the love and appreciation from students, staff, and parents when you've done your best job with them.

The worst parts of the job are always feeling like you're just barely keeping your head above water and feeling like there is so much more you could be teaching the students and doing with them, if you weren't spread so thin.

Job Tips:
1.) Don't sweat the small stuff. You can't do everything you want to do. Stick with quality over quantity, and do a few things well, rather than trying to do too much. I need to take my own advice on this one.

2.) Don't let one bad day/bad attitude/unkind word cloud the big picture. You won't always reach everyone. Rejoice in the little victories of the students you do reach.

3.) Be happy and make the most of the situation in which you find yourself. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

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