Job Title: Elementary School Teacher
Type of Company: I teach fifth grade at the only year-round school in the McDowell County, North Carolina school system.
Education: BA, English/Education, Berea College MA, Middle Grades Education, Western Carolina University
Previous Experience: I went to a college where we had a work-study program. I was a production potter, a docent in the Appalachian Museum, and a tutor in the reading lab, before becoming a teaching associate for the reading lab director. I went directly into teaching after graduation. I have also done summer school teaching and tutored the blind.
Job Tasks: I teach twenty-four 10 and 11 year-olds in a public year-round school. My school year starts the week after July 4th, and we run a calendar based on 45-15. This means I teach 180 days like all public schools do, but I teach for 9 weeks (45 days) and we are off for three weeks (15 days).
I start my day officially at 7:45 and can leave at 3:15, but I never do. I teach all subject areas (Reading, Math, Writing, Spelling, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Technology, and Social Skills.) I have one hour of planning every day except Wednesdays, which is the day that I do not have any breaks at all. We are teaching and learning from 7:45 - 11:00, with 30 minutes for lunch, and then 30 minutes of recess. Then more course work from 12:00 - 1:30, with my pullouts (PE, Library, Computers, Guidance) from 1:30 - 2:30.
I use a lot of technology in my classroom, and I am the sponsor of our Letterboxing Club, which currently has 50 members. I am responsible for all lesson planning and assessments of student work and progress, as well as all the paperwork or documentation connected with report cards, progress reports, disciplinary actions, and special needs issues. I am responsible for maintaining communications with parents and within the school environment. I am responsible for ensuring that my students can pass end-of-grade testing.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is my students. They are fun and interesting to work with every day.
The worst parts of my job are the paperwork, having to teach to the test instead of what my kids need, and my kids. The kids are becoming more and more lazy as time goes on and that is extremely hard to combat.
1.) Learn some diplomacy skills. Parents are becoming more and more belligerent as time goes on, and interacting with parents, students, and your supervisors requires good people skills.
2.) Know your stuff. Know what is required for you to meet your objectives before you start out.
3.) Be willing to pick up the slack and shoulder additional responsibilities. In a school climate, things will not work smoothly if everyone doesn't assume duties that need to be filled, without being told to do so.
Additional Thoughts: Teaching is a secure field of employment and generally has good benefits. But if you're heading into teaching for either of these reasons, I encourage you to find another career.
Teaching is not for the faint of heart. We are looked down upon by people who ought to revere what we do - raise and educate good citizens. You need to have a backbone and to be able to stand up for what you believe in, even when things are tough. Teaching is a hard job, if you do it right. And, if you're not willing to do it right, kids suffer.
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