Teaching in high school is much more than standing in front of students talking. Though Professor Binns in Harry Potter does a great job at it…well, not the standing part, he floats… you will not succeed in following that example.
Teaching young men and women in their teenage years involves dedication, creativity, critical thinking, flexibility, problem-solving, and expert communication abilities. More than these mental skills, teaching requires a love of each student, your subject, and a virtuous character. Aristotle, known as The Philosopher in Antiquity, said, “those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
The understanding he’s talking about is about how we think, what makes each person unique, what inspires and motivates someone, and how to communicate truth, goodness, and beauty. This knowledge and skill are acquired in your Bachelor’s in Secondary Education degree and through experience.
A day in the life of high school teacher involves teaching classes, performing various supervision duties, talking with young people about life, attending meetings, talking on the phone to parents, grading papers, and planning lessons.
Activities extend to after school tutoring, meetings, lessons, and evening events such as sports or performances. These activities are constant and always changing. Every day is different because as a teacher you’re dealing with diverse learners from different families, backgrounds, and cultures.
This creates a lively dynamic and energy that, speaking from my own experience, I enjoyed. There will be things you like and things you don’t like about teaching. For example, early morning meetings are something I did not like or meetings at all for that matter. I loved being with students and the joy of learning. This joy of learning, where I was learning with the young people was where the synergy happened.
We were all equals and exploring the mysteries of life together. These moments were rare but tasted sweet to the soul. Another aspect that drew me was the time outside of class with teenagers.
I love talking and conversation about anything, especially important things. This relational focus is something to look forward to – it makes all the difference in the world.
Lesson planning and grading take up most of the down time you have as a teacher. A part of the job that may be a necessary evil to you, grading essays, is one of the most important.
Providing timely feedback on a student’s work is vital to successful student learning. In fact, the teachers who inspired me did so in part with little comments in my journal, on my paper, or in a word to me.
Plan on taking a lot grading home, especially in your first few years as a teacher: stacks of tests and essays in file folders is a rite of passage. Students will have multiple opportunities to practice these day to day tasks while working on their Bachelors of Secondary Education degree.
Here is a bullet pointed list of high school teacher duties taken from the BLS:
- Plan lessons in the subjects they teach, such as biology or history
- Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
- Teach students in full class settings or in small groups
- Adapt lessons to any changes in class size
- Grade students’ assignments and exams to monitor progress
- Communicate with parents about students’ progress
- Work with individual students to challenge them, to improve their abilities, and to work on their weaknesses
- Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
- Develop and enforce classroom rules and administrative policies
- Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, at lunchtime or during detention