Job Title: Elementary School Teacher
Education: I have a BA in education from the State University of New York at Oneonta. I have also completed more than 20 hours worth of graduate work. Rather than complete a specific program, I have signed up for any classes I feel will help me better educate the children in my classroom. Therefore, these classes are on a wide range of topics and from various colleges. Incoming educators are required to have a master's degree within five years of beginning to teach for licensure purposes. Every teacher must apply for a state certification, which at this point requires you to pass a state teacher's exam. Even after completing a master's degree every teacher must show proof of completion of at least one hundred and fifty hours of professional development (courses, workshops, etc.) every five years to continue to be certified.
Previous Experience: I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl and have not worked outside of the education field since I graduated high school. Like all teachers I student taught, and like most I was a teaching assistant and a substitute for a while to help me enter the field. During my college years, I was a camp counselor and a tutor in the summer to build my resume.
Job Tasks: My job is to teach children the curriculum put forth by the Arch Diocese of Boston and prepare them for the intellectual challenges life will give them. Although this sounds rather cut and dry, it is a demanding job. To teach well one must plan and organize extensively. This requires time and research. Once plans are set a teacher must implement those plans to 15-25 individuals each day. Every child learns differently, every child has a bad day; every child has emotions, every child's knowledge starts at a different place. All these aspects must be considered in order to help each child learn to his/her best ability. Thus, teaching requires a lot of thinking on your feet, adjusting as you go. I guess the best way to describe a teacher's typical day is a juggling act. You are juggling time constraints, student's issues, unexpected surprises (i.e. tears, illness, a visitor, a fire drill), discipline, and your plans all at the same time. You have to keep the children engaged and interested for them to learn. That is the acting piece of my work. Song, dance, experiments, anything that helps them own the knowledge I am presenting is all part of the job. Paper work consists mostly of correcting papers, recording student data and producing report cards. Some districts require you keep a website updated weekly, all at least require newsletters to parents. You also have to prepare items for your lessons. That could require you to cut, create, and/or copy. Monthly changing of the bulletin board is part of your work. Lunch/recess duties are another responsibility of the job. You must meet with all parents individually at least twice a year for conferences and once as a group for an open house. There will be several students that will require meeting with their parents on a more regular basis. Emails and phone calls home are also an important part of a teacher's success.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is sharing in a child's joy when he/she suddenly fully understands a new concept. It is knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of children everyday. I help individual's prepare for a better future. I cannot ask for anything more rewarding than that. The worst part of my job is that I work almost fifteen hours a day and get very little monetary reward for these efforts.
Job Tips: First, I would say to remember to live. Teaching can easily consume your time. Take time out for yourself sometimes. Next, I would say to remind yourself every morning that each child in your charge is a precious treasure given to you to guard. Do not let the pressures of state tests and our fast paced world pick at your treasure. Last, remember to have fun with the children it will bring joy to both you and them.
Additional Thoughts: The best rewards in life are not monetary. Contrary to popular belief most teachers are overworked and underpaid. Having said that I don't believe I could find a more rewarding job in any other field. I love what I do! How many employees can say that?
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