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Career Story: High School German Teacher

High School German Teacher

Job Title: Teacher/Adjunct Professor

Education: MA in Spanish Language and Literature, BA in Spanish and German

Previous Experience: Started as a claims representative for Social Security Administration at 22 Began teaching as an adjunct Spanish professor at 25 Began as staff/administrator at 25 at a university Quit jobs to be a stay-at-home mom at 36 Became a certified teacher at 37

Job Tasks: I work at a high school. I teach German I, II and III and Spanish I. If you want to be a German teacher, you should get a second certification as the jobs are few and far between. You should be willing to move to get a better job.

I am also required to be the mentor for several seniors for their senior project requirement. I have an advisory which is like a homeroom class. We do a lot of team building and goal-setting activities. It's a very busy day having five classes to teach, being a club advisor, and leading a German Exchange Program.

On many days, if you asked me whether you should be a teacher, I would say DON'T DO IT! (Teachers are so underappreciated and underpaid - and very overworked.) But on good days it's the most rewarding job in the world! I enjoy being in the field of academia because I am always learning and growing personally and professionally.

There are a lot of meetings, which is both good and bad. You are always expected to keep up with the current trends in your field, more so than any other profession except maybe the medical field.

Dealing with teens' behavior can be very challenging. Make sure to take adolescent psychology courses! Keep your professional life and your personal life very separate!

You have to love teaching to work in this field. If you do not stay organized, you will regret it. There is a high burn out rate, which doesn't surprise me in the least. If you think teachers sit around and lounge after 3:00 PM, weekends and summers, just try following one around for one day!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is inspiring a student who really wants to learn. It's great to have the opportunity to take kids on a trip abroad. I like the schedule that teachers have.

Worst: Correcting papers, submitting progress reports, ever-changing industry standards that are really the same thing every year (e.g., one year they call it "benchmarks", then "competencies", then "milestones", then...blah blah blah....insert flavor-of-the-month word here. It's really the same stuff, different day.)

Job Tips:
1. Be organized. VERY, VERY organized.

2. Get a job very close to your home.

3. Get a Master's Degree - you will get paid more and have more opportunities.

4. Join professional organizations. Attend ACTFL conferences (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages).

5. Make sure you get a lot of speaking practice with native speakers. The only way to teach languages well is to be fluent yourself first.

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