Job Title: High School Biology Teacher
Type of Company: I work in a private day school for grades 7 though 12.
Education: AB, Zoology, Connecticut College Ph.D., Biology, University of Pennsylvania
Previous Experience: I held a teaching assistantship while I was in graduate school, took a teaching internship at a nature center and taught in a summer science program for young children.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to design and teach a year-long Biology course to high school sophomores at a small, private day school for grades 7-12. I have chosen a textbook and develop lessons that enhance the material given in the reading. This involves thinking of good discussion questions to motivate students and planning interactive information packets to help students process the material.
To keep myself up to speed on new advances in Biology, I read "Science" and "Science News" magazines and sometimes participate in teacher training workshops in my hometown or on college campuses during the summer.
I plan and prepare for weekly labs in each of my three sections of the course. I train the students in how to write lab reports. I write quizzes and tests, and I spend quite a bit of time grading and commenting on lab reports, quizzes, and tests.
My students all do individual research projects which result in reports, display boards, and presentations at our school's own science fair. I coach many of the projects at school and find professional scientist to act as mentors for students who ask for this. I also help to recruit and train judges for the science fair. In other words, I help the students get ready for the science fair, and I help get the science fair set up for the students.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working closely with students. This is easiest during the independent research projects when students ask for individual guidance in choosing a topic, designing an experiment, finding materials, making graphs, and writing about the results. I also enjoy planning ways to keep the students interested in the subject on a daily basis.
The part of the job I like least is writing formal progress reports for each student three times a year. While writing each report is interesting, writing for forty students takes many hours and can become tedious.
Job Tips: To be an effective high school teacher it is important to know your subject well. So, to best prepare to teach high school Biology, major in Biology.
To be a good high school teacher, you need to have good interpersonal skills. You will need to communicate with parents, other teachers, and administrators, as well as with students. Practice thinking about situations from the perspective of the other person.
Teaching is very different in different kinds of schools. Visit private and public schools of different sizes and philosophies to find out what suits you.
Additional Thoughts: The thing that surprised me the most about teaching Biology as I became more experienced was that the job was not so much about presenting material to students as it was about communicating with them, which means listening and answering questions enthusiastically, not just organizing and and making facts available. The more interactive my classes are, the more the students enjoy them, and I believe they learn better that way.
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