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Career Story: Kindergarten Teacher In A Suburban School

Kindergarten Teacher In A Suburban School

Job Title: Kindergarten Teacher

Type of Company: I work in the public school system.

Education: BS, Early Childhood Education, Salem State College (Salem, MA) •• MS, Education, Lesley College (now University, Cambridge, MA)

Previous Experience: I have been working at this job in the same school system for 34 years.

Job Tasks: I teach two sessions of 1/2 day kindergarten students. These boys and girls start the year in the 5 to 6 year age range, most of them with two years of pre-school (though some have none at all).

My job entails a tremendous amount of planning and organizing. Using state and local guidelines and curriculum, I develop daily and weekly lesson plans as well as long-term lesson "units." I am responsible for ensuring that the children in my charge meet established benchmarks throughout the year. This is done through daily observation as well as periodic formal and informal assessments. When children are not at the expected level, it is my job to identify the areas of concern and develop intervention or remediation to bring them to the point they need to be. The few who continue to have difficulty I then refer for further testing, to determine whether they're the victims of learning disabilities. I am also responsible for providing each child with opportunities for social and emotional growth, and for helping them along when these do not develop naturally. A big part of the kindergarten agenda is to help children to learn group skills and work habits. Another facet in the teaching profession is communication with parents and conducting conferences. I also have a teaching assistant for whom I am responsible.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The 'aha' moment when you see understanding in the eyes of a young child is like nothing I could imagine experiencing in any other job. This job is full of love and hugs from your students and a great deal of appreciation from many parents. Teaching two 1/2-day kindergarten sessions can be physically and emotionally draining, though.

The worst part of the job is, unquestionably, the paper work and meetings.

Job Tips: If you think that young children are adorable and teaching them would be fun, you are right. But it can be exhausting too and, believe it or not, not every one of them is adorable, and the one out of fifty who isn't will really put you to the test. I would advise anyone who wants to teach to observe classrooms and volunteer a lot before student teaching. I have known people who student taught in their fourth year only to discover that it wasn't for them and they needed to make a late change in their career major.

Additional Thoughts: The most important traits that I believe one must have for this job are organization, structure, flexibility, sense of humor, and an open mind. You must be willing to be a life learner, not only through continued education but learning from your colleagues and even more from your students.

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