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Career Story: Middle School English Teacher

Middle School English Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for the public schools in a suburb of New York City.

Education: BS, Education,SUNY-New Paltz •• MA, Education, Sacred Heart University (Stamford, CT) •• 6th year in Education, University of Bridgeport (Bridgeport, CT)

Previous Experience: I have always been a teacher.

Job Tasks: It is my responsibility to teach 11 and 12 year old students reading and writing in a way that's both fair and challenging. I am fortunate enough to have a 90 minute block of time in which to do this every day. My students read the classic, modern, young-adult literature, with short stories, myths and non-fiction and other genres of writing thrown in. They also write short stories, plays and poetry and compose book reviews, news articles and essays. We encourage them to form acting companies to perform Shakespeare's plays.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the students understand a new concept, grow as readers and writers, and grasp the importance of acquiring these skills.

The worst part of my job is our increasing reliance on state test scores to rate and describe students' progress, instead of focusing, as we should, on exposing kids to a variety of subjects and ways of learning, regardless of how well they do on standardized tests.

Job Tips: You have to love your subject and the middle school student. Get your master's degree as soon as you finish your BA. Don't expect to make it rich!! Teaching is a field of dedication... not money. Also, be prepared for long hours of correcting essays. The good news is that you get to see how much your students have grown as writers. But don't think you will reach 100% of your students all the time. Be thankful for reaching two or three a year. Next year you'll have all new students to work with.

Additional Thoughts: To be a successful middle school teacher you need to have a sense of humor. Middle school students are like tadpoles about to turn into frogs. They have incredible amounts of energy and it has to be channeled in the right direction. As the old saying goes, "a teacher takes a lot of hot wires and tries to ground them." The wires are the students and you're the electrician.

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