Job Title: Classroom Teacher
Type of Company: I work for the school district in a suburb of Boston.
Education: BS, Psychology, Suffolk University M.Ed, Lesley University
Previous Experience: I worked as an tutor for two years prior to being hired as a long-term substitute and then a permanent substitute.
Job Tasks: I am the classroom teacher in a second grade inclusion classroom, receiving assistance from a special needs teacher daily to help with students with educational plans. I am responsible for teaching all the state standards in all the subjects for all my students, who are also sometimes assisted by other specialists like reading teachers, occupational therapists, and the psychologist. A large part of the job is social training of the children, as I am charged to teach the children to become successful participating members of society, and much of this is in character education.
My day runs from tying shoes all the way through assisting the children to deal with the death of a grandparent or pet, and all the steps in between. I live with my 21 students for 9 months, and understand a great deal of what is important to them. I must handle each individual and often each incident on a personal as well as a group level. At various times of each day I must be the coach, the therapist, the enforcer and one of the the most important adults in their lives. I also handle their academic lives on an individual basis, as each child may have a different learning style, capacity, and motivation.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job is also the worst part: the children. It is an awesome responsibility working with small children who can be so easily crushed, but not necessarily so easily motivated. The sum total of their needs is a heavy burden. Yet when one of them really gets something (the "ah ha!" moment), there is not a better feeling in the world. It is too bad it comes infrequently. We have more and more curriculum to teach each year, with little or no assistance; often I feel like it is me against a big indifferent world. I compete with quick bursts of high stimulation (e.g. video games) and must be accountable for the fact that real learning is not like that!
1.) Spend as much time in the classroom as possible before you begin your teaching career. Make sure it appeals to you, choose the age level that seems to "fit", and be sure you love children and academics.
2.) Do not accept the current philosophy that teaching is an easy job of "only" six hours a day and 9 months of the year! Do NOT become a teacher for the summer vacation!
3.) Do NOT give up after your first year. It is a very strenuous and frustrating time that you just have to get through. It is MUCH better with experience! Try not to give up ANY year, though many may be difficult. Believe in what you do, and try to make it better each time.
Additional Thoughts: It is very difficult but rewarding to take the academic content you wish to teach, filter it down to the age and ability level of each of your students, and then say and model and show it as many different ways as necessary for the students to get it. However, we do it constantly, and successfully!
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