Job Title: High School English Teacher
Type of Company: I work for a school system in suburban Boston
Education: BA in English, Williams College; MA in English, Columbia University
Previous Experience: Taught High school English in Harlem, NY; Taught High school History at Noble and Greenough School
Job Tasks: I teach literature, coach soccer, coach basketball. As a teacher, we must be knowledgeable about our academic fields, counselors, therapists, cheerleaders, surrogate parents, a shoulder to cry on, bomb squad members, relationship coaches, drug and alcohol counselors, abuse reporters, assessors of written work, facilitators of discussions, protectors of the weak, interesting, entertainers.
On a given day, I teach four classes. Teaching entails pushing kids beyond what they think is possible. The paradox there is that much of teaching is helping kids find within themselves what is already there. Teaching is all about showing kids how to think independently. Most teachers, sadly, do not believe this and instead wish their students to regurgitate back to them what they have said. That is the kind of teacher you cannot be. Be the one who makes the difference, but be the difference without developing a messiah complex.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love working with kids and ideas. There is nothing better than seeing kids think for themselves and come to intellectual places they did not expect going to. The worst part is dealing with the growing quantification of a mental and emotional process. Also, dealing with overzealous parents whose sense of their children is unreasonable. Every teacher should coach, and every coach should teach. Both help the other.
Job Tips: Realize that grading is always part of your life. Know that teaching is never really over when you leave the building. Know that teaching should be different every year. Know that administrators can be robots with all the wrong priorities. A teacher should always strive to be revolutionary. Always keep it fresh and know that we ultimately teach ourselves. Know when you own the job versus when the job owns you. Always go to your students' games, recitals, and anything else they do. It will pay off in the classroom and in both your and your kids' lives.
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