Career Story: Second Grade Elementary School Teacher

Second Grade Elementary School Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Education: BA in Sociology, George Washington University •• Masters in Special Education, Lesley University

Previous Experience: I had worked in child care including day care, preschool and Headstart beginning in 1975. Since 1986 I have been a teacher in a Boston-area public school syaten teaching in a special education preschool, integrated kindergarten and for the past 12 years as a 1st and 2nd grade regular education teacher.

Job Tasks: As a 2nd grade teacher, I am responsible for all aspects of a child's learning for that year. I teach all subjects including language arts, math, social studies and science. Within language arts, vocabulary, writing and spelling are included. At our school we use a Balanced Literacy model which includes both phonics and a whole language approach.

As all our classes have children with a wide range of skills and abilities I must individualize curriculum so that all students have access to the material. In addition I must meet with parents, specialists, other staff and a wide variety of other professionals who provide different services. We also do ongoing assessments to see what the students are learning and two times a year complete a lengthy progress report on each student.

It is also my responsibility to attend a variety of professional development workshops to keep up on all the latest research and trends in the field. Every day is different. Of course the curriculum changes and one must plan and prepare for that. Then there is the mood of the class as a whole and issues with individual children that constantly have to be dealt with.

There are many decisions one has to make while planning instruction as well as when to stop a lesson that is going well. The job has changed in many ways in that expectations for students are much higher and parents now expect a lot more from teachers as well. Also, there is a significant amount of paperwork that did not exist before.

It is never a boring job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are seeing kids learn and feel competent. When a child makes a connection to the world it is a very satisfying experience. It is also satisfying to work with parents and support them to be advocates for their children.

The worst part are the enormously long hours necessary to do a good job and the fact that our work is not valued by the society at large.

Job Tips:
1. Maintain a sense of humor - try to see the up side of what you and your students are doing.

2. Know that the work is important even if others do not give you credit for it.

3. Teaching is a very satisfying and fulfilling job if you take lots of deep breaths as well as breaks for yourself.

Additional Thoughts: When teaching, especially at the beginning - find other people to laugh with, complain to and just enjoy being with.

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