Career Story: Suburban High School Math Teacher

Suburban High School Math Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in the suburbs.

Education: BA, Math and Education, Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked as a tutor for about four years and also was a substitute teacher at three different schools.

Job Tasks: As a high school math teacher, I have to teach them both the mathematics assigned to me and responsibility and values. It is my duty to monitor the student behavior as well as inculcate lessons. I have to stay up-to-date with technology and use it to present new topics. I also must design activities and projects that will be of interest to the students.

On a typical day I arrive at school before the students, check my mailbox to see if there are passes or handouts for them and then prepare my papers and presentations while monitoring the hallways. When school begins I teach five straight classes. Each has its distinctive personality and I have to adjust my teaching style accordingly. Some classes can be given more freedom and will excel with just a little guidance. Other classes need to be kept continuously busy or they will have trouble getting along. Each lesson, therefore, is slightly different.

I eat my lunch while I update my class websites so that the students will be able to check the homework assignment if they forget what was assigned. After lunch I get a break during which I must make the photocopies for the next day, do the homework I assigned each class (so I can go over the answers the following day) and write out the lesson plans. I try to do plans for more than one day at a time in case there is an emergency and I have to miss school. After this I have a meeting with the other teachers. We often have parents come in when their children have been struggling. Other times we meet by ourselves to talk about which students need extra support.

After the school day ends I have to stay late to do follow up work from the day. I sometimes have to make parent calls for misbehavior. Other times I need to stay to proctor a student detention, give extra help, or offer make-up tests to students who have been absent. I go home at least an hour after the students do. At home I have time to eat dinner, correct student papers, look for new ways to present the material, and go to bed. The next day it starts all over again.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing a student who is struggling finally "get it." It's like you can see the light bulb go on. The worst part of the job is dealing with the discipline problems and trying to motivate students who have no interest in grades.

Job Tips: I would suggest volunteering with students around the same age group. Substitute teaching is also a huge help. You can get a glimpse of how well you'll handle the daily drama without having to sign on to doing it for a year at a time. Another helpful tip I was told is to make a folder with all the reasons you want to teach. That way on a really bad day you can look at it and remember.

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