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Career Story: European History Teacher At A Suburban High School

European History Teacher At A Suburban High School

Job Title: High School History Teacher

Type of Company: I teach American, European, and World history in a suburban high school, about a half hour outside of Boston.

Education: BA, History, Eckerd College •• (St. Petersburg, FL) •• Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure (PBTL), Framingham State College •• (Framingham, MA) •• M.Ed., Education (Concentration in History), Framingham State College

Previous Experience: After graduating from college with a history degree, I worked in several different settings, none of which led to my current role as a teacher. For example, I worked for an online travel agency and I wrote poems for greeting cards. After being asked to write a Christmas card from the perspective of a cat to his or her owner, I decided it was time for a new job, and I pursued my teaching license through a local state school. It took me one year to complete the program, and then I became a teacher.

Job Tasks: One of the funniest things about my job is that since everyone has been to school, many people think they have a good idea of what it means to be a teacher. I found that there were many aspects of the job I never thought of; specifically, that a really good teacher makes teaching look easy, even though it's not. You are required to be on your feet for around five hours a day with very little time for anything other than eating (you're given a 20 minute lunch) and photocopying. Many people assume that a teacher's day ends at 2:00 or 2:30, but nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, the moment the school day ends, you need to start preparing for the next school day, which might include anything from designing lesson plans, to researching topics you may not be familiar with, to creating worksheets. When you're not doing all of those things, you're correcting papers, so if you teach English or history, you're particularly likely to have a heavy workload outside of school. Consider this...if it takes 10 minutes to grade a student's essay, and you have 120 students, then that means it will take you at least 20 hours to grade all of those papers. If you don't want to work on weekends, that means you need to work an extra four hours after school each day to get it all done! Yikes!

Aside from all the work outside of school, another part of the job I did not anticipate was all of the meetings I am required to attend on a daily basis. There are parent meetings, meetings with special educators, department meetings, faculty meetings. As a student, I don't think I ever realized how much goes on 'behind the scenes' when classes aren't being taught; teachers still have many obligations that continue long after the last bell has rung for the day.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with teenagers; they are curious, interesting, and fun to be around. I also enjoy the fact that no two days are ever the same; you never know what to expect from your day, which helps prevent boredom.

I'd have to say that the worst part is correcting papers, which is time-consuming and often tedious. I've had to work hard at becoming more efficient, otherwise I would have absolutely no life during the school year.

Job Tips: Consider your personality...being really smart is often not enough to make you an effective teacher. Because of the demands upon you to "perform" for up to five hours straight, it really helps if you are highly energetic, vivacious, and extroverted. You can't really afford to not be "on," so if you're the type of person who needs quiet time to regroup, this is not the profession for you!

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