Career Story: High School Acting, Psychology And History Teacher

High School Acting, Psychology And History Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Boston.

Education: law degree/arts degree, Melbourne University (Melbourne, Australia) •• BA, Education, Monash University, (Clayton, Victoria, Australia) •• certificate, English as a Foreign Language, Cambridge University (UK) •• M.Ed. (in progress), History, Bridgewater State College (Bridgewater, MA)

Previous Experience: I have been a teacher in six different schools over the past 25 years and a department head for most of that time. I have also been a high school theatre director for most of that time. Along the way, I served as the academic dean of a private school for three years.

Job Tasks: I teach acting, psychology and history. I also direct my high school's theatre program. This involves me in mounting three seasons of theatre a year: fall, winter, and spring. The whole process -- auditions, rehearsals, and performances -- occupies me for at least two or three hours after school every day. I am also a member of the executive council of my state's high school theatre guild which means I attend monthly meetings on Saturdays and perform other work outside of regular teaching hours.

My teaching requires me to work in the classroom every day, usually for four class periods per day. The usual grading, marking, and preparation after regular hours is, of course, also a part of my job. When my state's high school theatre festival is in progress, I work typically for 3 or 4 days helping to run the program. In all, there are only about 3 weeks in the year when I do not have substantial after-school obligations.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are invariably those connected with students. Watching students arrive at the 'aha' moment, sharing in the great satisfaction of producing a successful stage show, applauding my students when they win awards - these are all among the best moments. It is a heart-warming experience to realize (every day) that we are all joined in a single endeavor. I love it when my students are right and I am wrong, and I learn something from them.

Job Tips:
1. Relax, be yourself, allow your own personality to play a role in the classroom, in the theatre, wherever.

2. Do everything you can to achieve complete mastery in your teaching disciplines and read a great deal. Students respond to the passion, never to the faker.

3. Always be honest with your students. They can see through dishonesty or disingenuousness almost instantaneously. Let them know you treat the process as a joint endeavor, that you are not setting yourself up as some kind of autocrat in the classroom.

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