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Career Story: Sixth Grade Science Teacher In A Suburban Public School

Sixth Grade Science Teacher In A Suburban Public School

Job Title: Science Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in upstate New York.

Education: BS, Biology, SUNY-Albany •• MS, Teaching, SUNY-Albany

Previous Experience: I worked as a camp counselor in junior high school and high school.

Job Tasks: I am a sixth grade science teacher in a middle school in upstate New York. My responsibilities are to teach four sections of general science to sixth graders each day. The units I teach include metric measurement, the environment, rocks and minerals, microscopes, frog and worm dissection, chicken embryology, energy alternatives, the scientific method and human anatomy. My classes have between 23 and 26 students each.

In a typical class period, I take attendance and then go through a lesson that needs to be as diversified as I can make it. I usually include as much as I can of discussion and hands-on activities. I use technology as much as possible too. My room is equipped with a Smart Board which I use every day during my lessons to make them as interactive as possible. In my lesson planning I also try to be aware of the fact that I have many levels of student ability in my classes, because the students here are all thrown together and not grouped by proficiency. As a result, I teach students who are nearly illiterate along with those who read at the high-school level or above. Sometimes this makes my job very challenging, trying to make it so that the lower-level students understand what I am doing, while not boring the higher-level students.

In addition to teaching, I co-advise two clubs. One is a service club which meets every two weeks to plan activities that will benefit the school and our community. We do such things as collecting food for needy families for Thanksgiving, raising money for the American Heart Association and another worthy cause which tends to change from year to year (one year it was the children's wing at a local hospital), awarding a community service award to a staff member in our school and helping with any other emergencies that arise (such as collecting for the victims of Hurricane Katrina s few years ago). This part of my job is very rewarding and allows me to interact with the students outside the classroom, which is quite different.

The other club is a science bowl team where I meet weekly with students to prepare them to compete against other middle school teams in a Jeopardy-style competition. We also build a hydrogen powered vehicle to race on the day of the competition.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing my students succeed at what I am trying to teach them. The look in their faces when they "get it" makes it all worthwhile.

The worst part of my job is trying to deal with parents and students who do not value their education, especially parents who allow students to stay home from school too often and who take their children on vacation when it is not necessary.

Job Tips:
1. Follow your dreams. Get a degree in and plan to teach a subject that you really enjoy.

2. Value the job as a teacher as a professional. It is just as professional as being a doctor or a lawyer.

3. Make the job as fun as possible while still teaching the subject matter.

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