Career Story: Eighth Grade Math And Science Teacher

Eighth Grade Math And Science Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in western North Carolina.

Education: BA, Business Administration, Lenoir-Rhyne University •• (Hickory, NC) •• Education, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

Previous Experience: I worked in management in the textile industry for thirty years before a personal tragedy led to a career change.

Job Tasks: I am a classroom teacher in the eighth grade in a county middle school. I teach math and science. I arrive at school at 7 A.M. and begin my duties at 7:30. Students come to class at 7:40. I teach two blocks of math which are 90 minutes each, and one block of science. My day also includes homeroom and a twenty minute advisor/advisee period. This time is reserved for clubs, character education, reading enrichment and intramural sports. We also have a 90-minute planning period. During this time we have grade-level meetings, subject meetings, parent meetings, and team meetings, but the time is also reserved for planning, developing lesson plans, grading and other similar activities.

During class I will have between 22-27 students. As a teacher you have to be in charge. Classroom management, involvement of the students, content of the subject matter, how it is presented, how and when the students are involved are -- or should be -- completely within your control. You should always have a plan, but it needs to be flexible to deal with the differences in each class. Education should not be uniform; we as educators need to learn from our students and how best to help them be thinkers.

Every class starts with a warm-up. This may be followed by a short lecture or guided practice, then independent practice. Some days may include small group activities, or peer instruction. My duties every day also include watching my class during lunch, but I also have a weekly bus duty, concession stand and concert duty twice a year each, and one committee.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my work is watching the joy on the face of a student as he discovers something new, or as he finally grasps some concept or idea we've been wresting with. The joy of being part of that student's growth is far better than any pay.

The worst part is end-of-grade testing -- not the accountability, we need accountability, but high stakes multiple-choice testing is a poor way to get it.

Job Tips:
1.Be yourself. Follow best practices as you are taught but do not try to be another teacher. Students will see right through that.

2. Learn as much content as possible, but students want to know that you care. They do not care what you know.

3. Find a good mentor. Your first year will be survival, but things will get better and less stressful.

Additional Thoughts: Education is close to a calling, and if you do not love what you do, the garbage will drive you away.

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