Career Story: Social Studies Teacher At A Private High School

Social Studies Teacher At A Private High School

Job Title: Social Studies Teacher

Type of Company: I work at a high school in northeastern Massachusetts.

Education: BA, History, UMass Lowell

Previous Experience: I was fortunate enough to obtain my current position right out of college.

Job Tasks: I am a teacher in a private high school. My day starts at around 7:30 a.m., about 20 minutes prior to homeroom. Throughout the day, I teach a variety of classes in my discipline. I am also responsible for monitoring my homeroom and one of the three lunch periods each day. I have one prep period each day, when I am able to sit in the faculty room and grade papers, prepare a lesson, or do some other work. I also moderate the school's Mock Trial team and coach track and field, so my day doesn't actually wind down until after 5:00.

A typical day involves a lot of interaction with my students. From the moment I set foot in my classroom, students begin visiting me with questions about a homework assignment or an upcoming test. Then, once the bell actually rings, I'm off and running. I teach three, 40-minute classes before a 40-minute prep period, which allows me to catch my breath. I usually go to the faculty room, make myself a cup of coffee and grade papers. Then, I have lunch duty. I use this time to interact with my students and members of the track team and Mock Trial team. My lunch period comes after lunch duty. Then, I have two more classes in the afternoon. When the bell rings at the end of the day, I head to the faculty room, where I change for track practice, or, if it isn't track season, I get some work done. During the winter, when I'm coaching Mock Trial, I head to the library to meet with those students.

There isn't much down time in my schedule unless I've assigned in-class essays or I've given the students a test. Then, my classroom is quiet and I'm able to get some work completed. The drawback here is that I'll have a lot of grading to do over the weekend!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: It's great working with kids. I love being in front of a class, talking about history, leading them in discussions with one another. I also love how each day is different. Sure, some days aren't as good as others, but you certainly can't say that teaching is dull. There are so many variables that affect each day: the lesson that you're teaching, the mood of the kids, the time of year, etc. Each day is different.

It's also great to have summers and holidays off. I've never heard anyone in education complain about this. It's wonderful to be able to enjoy the summer and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The flip side of this is that teachers are not paid as much as other professionals with multiple degrees. It's hard work, no question. The days are long, and you bring lots of work home with you at night and on the weekend. The salary isn't as high as it should be but having summers off allows you to take a job on the side, like tutoring, and getting out of school at 2:20 allows you to coach or do some other school-related activity for a little extra cash.

Job Tips:
1. Take as many courses in your discipline as possible. Stay away from elective courses that don't directly help you in your discipline.

2. Get excited about getting involved. Plan to work on committees, coach a sport, be a moderator for a club, etc. It makes the teaching experience so much better, as you get to know your students in a whole new way, and they'll see you differently, too, which helps you earn their respect.

3. Plan to get a second degree. I'm working on a Master's degree in Education, which will help me down the road if I plan to become a department chairperson, etc.

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