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Career Story: Elementary School Spanish Teacher

Elementary School Spanish Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: Primary school in small college town.

Education: MA, Education, UCLA

Previous Experience: I taught English and Spanish in schools overseas and in the States.

Job Tasks: I teach Spanish three times a week to between 300-360 students in grades K-5 in an elementary school in our town. Between classes I serve as a liaison between families, school teachers and administrators and with others in the community and help interpret when necessary. During the day, I take phone calls from Spanish-speaking families who call with questions regarding school schedules, lunches, absences and notes sent home from school. I assist in interpreting for conferences when necessary. I meet with colleagues to plan for presentations and discuss issues relating to the curriculum and student learning. Throughout the year, I bring in other community members to share their culture and knowledge of the Spanish language with my classes. I teach my students about the cultures of different Spanish-speaking countries through music, dance, poetry and literature. I use as much Spanish as I can, so the students are mostly hearing it throughout the 25-minutes of class. Every nine weeks, I issue grades to the students and hold conferences, when needed, to discuss a student's progress.

Outside of school, I attend workshops that deal with teaching in general or more specifically teaching a foreign language. When I can, I travel to Spanish-speaking countries to learn more about that country and the people who live there. I use that opportunity to purchase materials for my classes and students the following year.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is sharing the information I know with my students and having them get excited about it and ask questions. It's fun to see them say things in Spanish that I didn't even know they remembered.

The worst part of my job is having to call a parent to report their child's poor behavior.

Job Tips: Before taking the courses to become a teacher in the public schools, think whether or not you have lots of patience, like learning and sharing information with students, have enthusiasm and a strong interest in what you're teaching, and lots of knowledge of the subject you're teaching. Then, work in the school system as an assistant and see what the teaching environment is like. Try to work in different grades to see what age of students you enjoy the most. Once you decide to teach, find a school that allows to you to get lots of practical experience.

Additional Thoughts: Many people don't realize the amount of time an effective public school teacher spends outside the regular teaching day preparing for the day's work. Most teachers spend a good deal of time during the summer and during the year, taking and giving workshops related to teaching and towards their teaching speciality.

Teachers must have a very good understanding of the different stages of a child's development and have the child's interest at heart. An effective teacher must know the child's interests, abilities, learning style, family circumstances and background knowledge of a subject to teach it well.

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