Job Title: Kindergarten Teacher
Type of Company: I work for a suburban school district just north of Boston.
Education: BA, Psychology, Salem State College M.Ed., Early Childhood Education, Salem State College
Previous Experience: I taught pre-school for six years before getting my Master's degree to be able to teach in a public school.
Job Tasks: I have too many responsibilities to list in full, but here's a sketch. I am responsible for twenty some children's overall growth for one academic year. I teach them to identify letters, sounds, parts of a book, rhyming words, beginning, ending, and medial sounds. I teach them to read, to write in sentences, to author and illustrate books. I teach them to count (by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s), to create and identify patterns, to measure and to sort, to count objects and recognize numerals up to 100. I teach them to get along with each other and be good citizens, who can solve problems peacefully and help themselves, as well as others. I encourage them to speak up for themselves and others. I teach them to demonstrate self-control and respect. Most importantly I strive to teach all my kids to love school and learning, because when we love doing something we do it much more successfully than if we do not enjoy it! I also interface with colleagues, parents, and administrators. I make presentations at meetings and workshops. I sit on committees and engage in all kinds of professional development. I supervise an educational assistant and mentor new teachers.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Seeing the kids faces when they're excited about having learned something new or are interested in what we are doing is the best part of my job -- bonding with them and nurturing them as people and not only as students; seeing their growth over the course of the school year. It's amazing!
Parents who really do not understand child development, but who think that because they have children and are educated themselves then they must know about education are the worst part of my job! But administrators who have not taught at this young grade level and have unreasonable expectations of both children and their teachers come a close second.
1. Listen much more than you speak. If you think you've made something clear to your students, explain it again another way.
2. Know who you are and try not to take everything parents say personally. Teachers can be targets for criticism and we will all be discussed at the playground.
3. Maintain appropriate and professional boundaries. You may think a certain parent really likes you, and they may. However, if you have to share something unfavorable about their child, that can change very quickly.
4. Do not go into teaching unless you love it and cannot imagine doing anything else! Education is changing and becoming much more pressurized for both students and teachers. There are constantly new responsibilities added and never any taken away. Parents and children are more stressed and behaviors are more challenging. It is a very rewarding job, but it is much more time- and emotion-consuming than most people realize.
Additional Thoughts: Think about the financial end of things. It is difficult to do that when starting out in the field. However, it is not romantic to be underpaid. It is great to have summers off, but hard to get a job for those seven weeks.
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