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Career Story: High School Earth Science Teacher

High School Earth Science Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

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

Education: BA, Psychology, University of North Carolina •• JD, University of North Carolina •• Teaching Certification, University of North Carolina, National Board Certification

Previous Experience: I worked in a biomedical lab, practiced law, worked with youthful offenders, worked for a brokerage firm and sold life insurance.

Job Tasks: I am a high school science teacher. The classes I teach change with every semester and may include Advanced Placement Environmental Science, earth science, environmental science, biology, physical science, and oceanography.

I report to work every day between 7 and 7:30AM. My first class begins at 8:30. I have 30 minutes for lunch. Teachers are not allowed to leave campus for lunch. I teach three 90 minutes classes and have a 90 minute period of time that is supposed to be for the planning of lessons, tests, labs and so forth. In reality, this 90 minutes is usually taken up by various duties (cafeteria, bus, hall) and meetings of committees, departments, faculty, continuing education. Therefore, when the bell rings at 3:15, I usually have another two hours of work to do. I am responsible for grading all of the assignments I give. There is no assistance of any kind at the high school level. Elementary teachers sometimes have assistants. I am expected to give out progress reports every 3 weeks, post my grades online every 3 weeks, and keep up with attendance online. My school has one lab that must be shared by all teachers who teach any of the life sciences. There are no lab assistants. Any lab material must be prepared by me. I am responsible for scheduling the lab, cleaning it up, and putting away all glassware, microscopes and other equipment. We have one computer lab that must be shared by the entire school. It must be scheduled way in advance and does not have enough computers for all of the students to work individually.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I get to work with teenagers. There is never a dull moment and no two days are the same. I love their energy!

The worst part of my job is dealing with the bureaucracy that I thought I had left behind when I decided not to practice law or work with financial institutions. The state and federal government have managed to kill any creativity that most teachers have by regulating education too heavily. We often wind up teaching to standardized tests that have been created by people with little appreciation for either education or the art of teaching.

Job Tips: Before considering this career, talk to as many teachers as possible. If possible, visit a high school other than the one you attended. Ask a teacher for a format for a lesson plan and try to write a lesson that will engage twenty-five to thirty teenagers for 90 minutes and teach them something that your state's department of public instruction says they must learn. Then teach it to some volunteers. Then test them to see if they learned what you wanted them to learn. After you realize that they didn't get everything you wanted them to get, figure out what went wrong. Some days, you don't get it right. Some days, you do. Those are golden.

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