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Career Story: High School Biology Teacher

High School Biology Teacher

Job Title: Science Educator

Type of Company: I work for a school district in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Education: BS, Biology, Seton Hill University •• MS. Biology, Towson State University •• MS, Biotechnology, Johns Hopkins University

Previous Experience: Training for my current job began in college. In addition to taking several classes in psychology and education I spent a semester observing classroom instruction and another semester student teaching. It was during student teaching that I was given the responsibility of planning and teaching the lessons to 5 classes of sophomore biology students.

Job Tasks: As a high school teacher my primary responsibility is to teach students the state-mandated curriculum for my course. This starts with having an understanding of the learning and teaching methods as well as knowing the subject matter. Each day I have to plan how much material I will cover in class and what the best way is to teach it. There are many days that class goes exactly as planned but there are those days in which many changes are needed. I need to "read" the situation and change plans if the students are not responding to the lesson. Each class can be different. These subtle variations between students and classes are some of what makes teaching interesting: I have an idea of how a lesson will work, but there are always surprises.

In addition to teaching the students the material for my course I also serve as an advisor for science clubs and as an informal mentor for some students. I have the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge both in and out of the classroom.

Besides the classroom responsibilities I am required to plan with other teachers, I attend monthly faculty and committee meetings and communicate with parents on a regular basis.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part about the job is building relationships with my students and sharing with them my interest in the sciences. It means so much to me when students come back to share their successes post-high school. The worst part is the paperwork, grading all of the papers, and the meetings that take me away from my students.

Job Tips: If you are considering a career in education you must be able to make mistakes in front of your students and laugh about them later. You can't be overly sensitive or the students will take full advantage of it. It is important that you know your material well, but that you also admit when you don't and be willing to learn along with your students. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to spend time after school at student events to see the other side of them. It pays off in a huge way when the students know that you care about them as a person!

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