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Career Story: Teacher In A Hospital-Homebound Program

Teacher In A Hospital-Homebound Program

Job Title: Teacher

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

Education: BA, University of the South •• MA, Teaching, Salem College

Previous Experience: I worked a variety of jobs and was even in the civil service before getting my MAT and becoming a teacher.

Job Tasks: I am a teacher assigned to the Hospital-Homebound Department, which serves students who temporarily cannot attend their public school. Some students are taught at home because of illness or after delivering a baby. Some students are served in a hospital setting: either a traditional hospital for a medical condition such as cancer, or the psychiatric ward of the hospital, or a non-traditional "hospital" setting. In my case, I am permanently assigned to a residential and day-treatment program for adolescents with mental health issues that are severe enough to prevent them from attending regular school, but not severe enough to warrant long-term placement in a psychiatric facility.

I am one of two teachers, and between the two of us, we teach all academic subjects for both the middle school and high school students. I always teach all the science classes; my co-teacher has always taught all the social studies and history classes, and we divide up the math and the language arts and English classes. We are on a block schedule, so the high school students change the courses they take every semester. We often don't know what classes we will be teaching until right before the start of the semester, when we assess what course credits the high schoolers need.

Our class sizes are very small, usually six students, though sometimes up to ten or so. In addition to the teacher, there is always another adult (the day treatment counselor) in the room whose responsibility it is provide therapeutic interventions when necessary. Most of our students have difficulty getting along with their peers or have poorly-developed social skills; many are below grade level in achievement. This can make it difficult to maintain a calm learning environment.

In addition to knowing what each student's individual educational needs are, we also must be aware of their mental health diagnoses. We must read their personal histories, and we attend two "staffing" meetings each week. These are held in the afternoons; the entire team meets to discuss current students (treatment, progress, goals, etc.) and upcoming admissions. People present at these meetings are the director of the program, the day treatment counselors and the day treatment supervisor, the case manager, the educational liaison, the teachers, and, once a week, our psychiatrist.

A typical day for me starts a little before 8, and then I teach from 8:15-1:30. I have a combination planning period and lunch break at lunchtime. After my last class, I may have meetings, be working with individual students, checking school records, or doing paperwork. Later in the afternoon, I plan lessons, photocopy, grade papers, or attend staff meetings. I try to leave by 6pm each day.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best part of the job is its variety and the variety in what I teach, the ability to make a difference in how my students view learning, my co-workers.

Worst: there's not enough time to get everything done, and resources are meager.

Job Tips:
1.) Try to spend some time in a classroom volunteering to actually see what a teacher's job entails before considering going into teaching.

2.) Don't be seduced by having the summers off. Be aware that, depending on your circumstances, you may end up having already worked the equivalent of all those summer hours during the school year because of work days that are much longer than 8 hours, and work that you do at home in the evenings and on the weekends. This is especially true in your first few years, or if you change grades or subject areas. You WILL work overtime, but you will not be paid for it!

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