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Career Story: Public Elementary School Science Teacher

Public Elementary School Science Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a public elementary school in Boston.

Education: BA, Psychology, Colgate University •• MA, Child Development, Tufts University

Previous Experience: I taught first grade in Atlanta, GA for two years. I spent one year in graduate school at Tufts, then worked at a charter school in Lowell for one year.

Job Tasks: I teach science to every child at the small, public elementary school where I work. I teach about 150 students who are in kindergarten through fifth grade. The curriculum is based on FOSS and STC science kits, which use hands-on investigation to teach science content. In a typical day, I might observe a tree with kindergartners, then study evaporation with third graders, test model cars with fourth graders and plant seeds with second graders.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the excitement and wonder on my students' faces. They love doing hands-on science experiments and discovering new things.

The worst part of my job is prepping materials for six different grade levels. It has been very challenging to learn the curriculum and state standards for so many grade levels. Cleaning up after messy science investigations is also a not-so-glamorous part of this job.

Job Tips: The best advice I can give to someone pursuing a job as a science specialist is to take as many kit trainings as possible. The science department (in the Boston school system) offers these trainings a few times a year and they will not let you borrow a science kit unless you have been trained. The trainings are usually taught by classroom teachers who share their own experiences, so they are very insightful. As a specialist who teaches six grade levels, I had to be trained on 19 different kits.

Additional Thoughts: I absolutely love my job - it is so much fun to teach science to the 150 wonderful children at my school. However, the first two years were very difficult because I was learning about the science curriculum at six different grade levels. Someone who would like to be a science specialist should be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into planning and training in their first few years. After I had completed all the kit trainings and developed unit plans for each grade, this job became more manageable.

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