Career Story: English Teacher At A Middle School

English Teacher At A Middle School

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in northern Massachusetts.

Education: BA, English, Boston College •• JD, Massachusetts School of Law (Andover, MA)

Previous Experience: I started as a victim advocate in the District Attorney's Office where I worked for 9 years. I attended law school at night and subsequently became an Assistant District Attorney for Essex County, Massachusetts (northeast of Boston). But I wanted to start a family and work directly with kids, so I decided to use my undergraduate degree and teach English.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for teaching grammar, composition, and literature to middle school students, using the Massachusetts standardized curriculum that's known as the state "Framework." I am responsible for teaching four hour-long classes a day to approximately 90 students. The grammar I teach includes parts of speech, punctuation, and sentence structure. Composition tries to accustom kids to the writing process with a focus on descriptive and narrative writing. The literature I teach includes short stories, drama, poetry, mythology and nonfiction. Part of the curriculum is devoted to preparing my students for the statewide tests known as MCAS exams.

In addition to academics, my job involves dealing with adolescent behavior. As a teacher of middle school students, I find I am responsible to teach life lessons as well as English. Another facet of my job involves acting as a liaison between my team of teachers and the school's administration. These duties also include scheduling all students for our entire team each spring.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with kids who enjoy and are engaged in learning. For the most part, I have control over my day and can make it as fun as I like. Of course, there is always a time when we have to get down to business, but making that "business" fun for students so they enjoy learning is a great feeling.

The worst part of my job is dealing with politics; this can include difficult parents and an uncooperative administration. It's also difficult dealing with students who are not invested in their own learning.

Job Tips: Finish all necessary schooling before you start. It's hard to work full-time and take classes part-time. Make sure you really enjoy it, and that teaching is for you! Pay attention to everything you are feeling when you student-teach, but understand it gets better with every year that you teach. Know that you never have it all down; it's a constant work-in-progress and you should always be looking at ways to improve your teaching. Lean on your colleagues for advice. And most importantly, the minute you feel burnt-out, you should be done teaching.

Additional Thoughts: A huge misconception is that teachers are greedy and that teaching is easy! I changed careers from being an attorney to go into teaching. I never realized how underpaid and overworked teachers are!

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