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Career Story: Science Teacher At An Alternative School

Science Teacher At An Alternative School

Job Title: Science Teacher

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

Education: MA, University of Virginia

Previous Experience: I have worked as a bartender, cartographer and mate.

Job Tasks: I am a science teacher at an alternative school. My job is to make sure that students have a safe environment to learn and earn high school credits in science. In order to provide a safe environment for students I have to establish relationships with students who have severe emotional problems, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and, in many cases, develop relationships with convicted felons. In order to develop those relationships, I have to learn about each student and keep up-to-date on best practices, including the use of individualized instruction. I often have to develop relationships with the students' parents as well....and members of the community who can provide services for my students.

I usually have about 50 different students each year, but not all of them at the same time. Managing a classroom full of students who have not had much success in school requires knowledge in many arenas of life. It is not something a rookie can walk into and expect to be successful. I must also keep up-to-date on all of the different branches of science. Students at the Alternative school can earn credits in Earth Science, Biology, and Physical Science. Students can also complete middle school.

I teach students from ages 11 to 20. Science is a dynamic subject and it often changes with new discoveries.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the vacations. A couple of months in the summer, 2 weeks at Christmas, and Spring Break. I also enjoy being around teenagers because it keeps me feeling young, even though I am not anymore. I also enjoy feeling proud of my students...like when they graduate.

The worst part of my job is the times when I don't win. Many of my students drop out of school and do not positively contribute to our community. It is heartbreaking to see so many people making such poor decisions at a young age, because it will affect them forever.

Job Tips: Don't take anything a student says or does personally. You must be a grounded, extremely confident and even cocky person to enter this profession.

Have a life outside of work. Lots of hobbies and friends that will keep you sane.

Have a sense of humor, and be prepared to laugh at yourself often.

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