Career Story: English Teacher In An Inner-City High School

English Teacher In An Inner-City High School

Job Title: High School English Teacher.

Type of Company: I work at an inner-city public high school. It is a very racially and economically diverse place.

Education: BA, English, UMass-Lowell •• MAT, Secondary English, Rivier College (Nashua, NH)

Previous Experience: I worked for nine years at a CVS Pharmacy, as a cashier (and later head cashier), as a closer, a photo lab tech and a pharmacy technician.

Job Tasks: My job is one that most college applicants are familiar with, teaching high school English. My schedule is generally 181 days, including one day prior to the students returning in the fall. My hours are 7:40 to 2:35. I teach five classes per day( 45 minutes each, approximately 20 students each). I have one 25 minute lunch period, one 50 minute duty period (lunch or hall), and one 50 minute prep period (where I get my classes in order, correct homework, make copies and do paperwork).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: It may sound corny, but the best part about my job is helping my students improve their skills, understand new concepts, discover new material and graduate. The hours and the summers off also are very important to me.

The worst parts of my job are its grueling pace (180 days can really fly), the disrespect from students who don't know me, and some of the mandates that come down from the administration or the school committee which I'm compelled to enforce.

Job Tips:
1. I would absolutely get certified, licensed right away. I would not look for a job and plan to finish schooling while teaching a full load.

2. I would absolutely substitute teach whenever/wherever possible while working on degrees.

3. I would re-think the plusses and minuses of this job, the many hoops you have to jump through in a very demanding career. Not everyone is cut out for this.

Additional Thoughts: What surprised me about my job when I first started teaching was the fact that so little of the class work I completed was actually useful in my live classroom. Making pretty lesson plans is nice, but facing a roomful of 20-25 17-year-old students NOT interested in English is daunting. Having been a strong, Honors student my whole life left me painfully unprepared for a classroom full of truly needy students.

All of that said, I can't think of a job that would satisfy me as much as teaching does. It might not be pretty or easy, but it gives one a true sense of accomplishment.

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