Careers: Teaching/English


I know that you are English as a Second Language teacher, but you are the closest one I could find close enough to and English teacher. I have always been interested in teaching and until my 8th grade year I couldn't decide what subject I wanted to teach. Now I have decided to go into teaching 8th grade English, if not high school. So my first question is, what would a typical day be like for you?

Hi, Avery,

Well, it depends on the school you join, but if you join an American school that uses Middle School vs Jr. High, you will teach students in 6th-8th grade (unless it's a REALLY big school where you focus on only one grade).  You will have, in a 7 period day, at least 5 classes.  Depending on the grades, you will prepare lessons ... if you are lucky to have 2 or 3 periods of the same grade level, then you will have only 2 or 3 'preps' as we call them, since one could expect to teach the same thing to several groups of children.  If you have 5 different levels, then you would have '5 preps'.  

Some schools use block scheduling which would mean that you might have each group for 2 periods on any given day.  When you have 'prep periods', that means you will use that time to prepare lessons for the coming days, grade papers, attend meetings, cover study halls / events, etc.  If you have a 7 or 8 period day, you might be assigned to assist another teacher to 'fill out' your schedule, assuming there are not enough students to make you a full time teacher in English, so you might be given Social Studies, proctoring duties, etc.  Some schools will draw on your strengths and interests, if they can, but others are forced to tell you to teach things or cover things you might never have dreamed of doing - jump in with a smile and a positive attitude.  It goes a LONG way toward getting you things you like better on down the road.

You might be assigned bus duties, lunch duties, chaperoning, club sponsorship (like student council, writing club, school newspaper or magazine, etc.).  You will attend more meetings than you want to attend, be asked to sponsor more clubs and activities than you want to sponsor and spend more time 'teaching to the test' than you want to do - but sometimes those things are necessary evils and until someone comes up with a better way to reach kids, it's the way it is.

You may or may not choose to go on for your Master's Degree.  Some teachers take courses after school, others, like I did, stop teaching and just do it in one year.  I don't work and study well.  You will take classes over your summer vacations, prepare lessons on weekends and over holidays, cheer for those snow days (and catch up on grading or planning), etc.  Report cards and record keeping are most trying at the end of the year since you have to finalize everything on every student.  

Parent-teacher conferences are usually held at night at least one day each semester.  Some schools do it more often.  Report cards often require individual comments (something that takes some creativity so they don't all sound alike - we KNOW everyone compares grades and comments) and unless you are a fast typist, can take long hours to pump out by hand or via hunt and peck.

You will squeeze what you can into each day and then lug things home with you at night or come in early the next day to get grading done.  I found the latter worked best for me because then I could collar the kids when they came in and still remember what it was I wanted them to correct or re-do.

I guess I've moved on from a typical day to a typical year, but I think you get the idea.  You were a student once so you should be able to recall how your day went - just imagine the day of the English teacher, seeing your classmates throughout the day.

I encourage you to go back to visit your high school or middle school and ask the English teacher (especially if he/she taught you) to let you spend a day or two observing.  Ask to pick his/her brain ... you'll learn a lot!

I hope this is some help.  It's good that you are giving this some thought.

Enjoy!  Teaching is one of THE most rewarding careers and I wouldn't pass it by for anything.  


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Debba Robinson


I can answer questions about reading at all levels, English as a Second Language, elementary math, science and social studies as well as general education matters. Individuals interested in teaching in international schools can contact me for information on how to begin the process of looking for jobs overseas.


I have been teaching for 30 years with a MEd in Reading and Language Arts, a BA in Elementary Education. For 6 years I taught computer to grades K-8. I have taught in combined grades (K-2 and 2-3 splits)in the US and overseas. The bulk of my elementary experience is in second and third grades, although I've taught K, 1, 2, 3 and 5 as a self-contained experience. Twenty-two years of my experience teaching has been in international schools in Africa and Asia.

MEd. in Reading and Language Arts
BA in Elementary Education
Certified principal K-12. Currently the director of the American International School of Niamey, Niger.

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