Career Story: Lead Teacher In A High School

Lead Teacher In A High School

Job Title: Lead Teacher

Type of Company: I work at a high school in a public school district.

Education: BA, Psychology, UMass-Lowell •• MSW, Clinical Social Work, Boston University; •• MEd, Education, Rivier College

Previous Experience: I have done school-based out-patient therapy for years and recently ran three substantially separate programs at a large suburban high school.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for providing both academic and social/emotional support to high school students who are finding it difficult to be in a regular educational setting. I teach core classes (math, English and an academic support class) and run a therapy group in addition to meeting with students individually for counseling. I also provide case management services to students in that I consult with outside therapists, social services and families. I have a behavior management system in place and I try to take every teachable moment possible to provide life lessons as well as academic ones. The majority of my students come from a broken homes and family dysfunction impedes their ability to work well in school.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love seeing the progress students make. It can be frustrating when you feel students are not making progress quickly enough. Working with students with behavioral difficulties can also be frustrating. You have to learn how to separate your personal feelings from your gut reactions to their behavior. It's worthwhile when a student is really struggling with a difficult issue and they come to you.

Job Tips: Be sure to get experience in the most difficult settings so that you can work with students with a wide range of needs. Make sure that you take classes that will help you work with students in an urban area because their needs are likely to be different. Consider a double major in education and psychology/social work because that makes you more marketable.

Additional Thoughts: People are usually surprised to hear the types of kids I work with but I enjoy working with kids who don't have anybody else fighting for them. If I had to do anything differently, I would have done a dual Master's program instead of getting my Masters of Education ten years after my MSW. I think I am successful in what I do because I had a really good supervisor in my first job and she taught me how to be responsive, not reactive. You cannot be a reactive person and work in this type of setting.

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