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Teaching Job Description

Over the past twenty-four hours, my mind has been overwhelmed with things going on with my students and my classroom. I have been on an emotional roller coaster. This school year, I seem to feeling things very deeply when it comes to my role as a teacher. This morning I was thinking about the job description of a teacher and, after twelve years in the classroom, am convinced that the official descriptions are, at best, humorous.

While this job description for a classroom teacher is quoted from Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools‘ website, it is consistent with what you would find across the state of North Carolina.

“An employee in this class provides direct instruction to students. A wide variety of tasks are performed in the teaching-learning process for students, the primary one being to help students learn the subject matter and skills that will contribute to their development as mature, able, and responsible adults.  A teacher performs his/her duties under the supervision of, and reports to, the principal.”

This morning, I’ve been thinking about things people need to know who are interested in the teaching profession. These things will not be listed on any official job description, but they are things that quickly become part of a day-to-day routine.

1. Attend more athletic and extra-curricular events that you can imagine. Have you seen a kid’s face light up when they spot you in the bleachers at their pee-wee football game? Parents and students respond to you in a whole new way when you go out and meet them in the community. Teaching is not a classroom position; it is a way of life.  Besides, you actually do have to convince children that you wear jeans and baseball caps and that you can exist outside of school.

2. Have your heart broken… on a regular basis. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted. I cried my eyes out last night over a few of my students. The things we hear and know cannot be faced with a stern outlook all the time. You have to feel it, take it in, live it with your student, feel helpless and then figure out how to conquer it. I often cannot relate to the pain many of my students have faced (and face on a regular basis). It is hard not to want to carry their burdens for them. We cannot. We can only try to find small ways to lighten them and make school a safe haven.

3. Live it. Breathe it. I don’t know very many effective and influential teachers whose minds are on work from 7:30 am – 3:30 pm. If I could get it all done and shut it in the room behind me when I leave my classroom at 5:00 pm, I would. But I don’t. I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering what I am going to do about that kid who just cannot figure out how to subtract. I worry about whether or not to call a child’s parent about classroom behaviors because I’m not sure what is going to happen to her when she gets home. I antagonize over why a student, who I know is having difficulties at home, is absent from school.

4. Listen. Teacher job descriptions are often filled with things they need to teach and do. One of the most critical things that I do is listen. I listen to kids who just have to tell me about what happened on Spongebob last night. I hear extended stories about the five-point deer they shot this weekend. I cannot tell you how many made-up knock-knock jokes I have heard. Yet, intermingled in these webs of words, I often find critical clues as to the needs of my students. I listen to parents. They do not want to be “talked at.” They know their kids and what their kids need or struggle with. Parents cannot be told what they are doing wrong. Many times, they need as much guidance as their children. One of my first principals told me “All parents are doing the best that they know how and loving their kids the best that they can.” Keeping that in mind helps me focus on listening and not on blame.

5. Motivate. The difference between legendary coaches and those whose names we will never know is not an understanding of the X’s and O’s of sports. Instead, it is a special ability to motivate individuals to achieve greatness through their own effort and self-discipline. Likewise, the teachers that we often remember so vividly didn’t do anything ground-breaking in terms of instructional strategies. Rather, they present the curriculum in a way that students feel inspired and compelled to absorb and succeed on their own.

After adding these five things to a typical teaching job description, I am chuckling at the fact that none of them actually relate to content-delivery. Hmmmm.

What would you add to the job description of a teacher?

8 Responses

  1. Kelly,
    I think you have done an excellent job reflecting on the important parts of our job not found in any teacher job description. Your post hits home and elaborates so well that student/teacher/parent relationship and trust is a critical foundation for any learning experience.
    I think that we also need to be willing to learn and grow as teachers. Clearly, you are one of those teachers always attending workshops, sharing what you have learned with others. Those entering teaching need to understand that we are never finished learning! We need to change and grow to meet the needs of our learners.
    Thanks for your insightful post.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelly Hines and Lori Sabo, NC DEN . NC DEN said: New at Keeping Kids First: Teaching Job Description. http://ow.ly/2JNWy What would you add? […]

  3. Kelly,

    This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to share the thoughts that so many of us have, but do not share because we lack the talent to articulate the perils and triumphs of what exactly it means to be a teacher. There is no greater profession on the planet! Thank you, you Molder of Dreams! (May I have your permission to share this?)

  4. Hello Mrs. Hines,

    My name is Katlyn and I am currently in EDM 310 with Dr. Strange at the University of South Alabama. I will be visiting your blog and summarizing my visits with a post to my blog on October 10th.
    I enjoyed reading your blog! Your description was perfect. I could not agree more that teaching is a way of life. Attending an after school activity like a sporting event is a great idea. It is so something so simple and I have not even thought about the positive impact it would have on teachers and parents. It is important to go out in the community and show that teachers are regular people too. I remember seeing my teachers at the grocery store and it was like seeing a celebrity. I had no idea they did things outside of school. I also loved what you said about feeling it, taking it in and living it. School should be a safe haven, for some students it is the best part of their day.
    If I could add something to the list it would probably be to expect the unexpected. Some things you can’t prepare for. Each child is different and they are from different backgrounds. We can’t control the unexpected but we can handle it the best way we can!

    my blog is hurtkatlynedm310.blogspot.com
    and my class blog is edm310.blogspot.com

  5. Hello Mrs. Hines,

    I am currently enrolled in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. This information was very enlightening and I will use it when I become a teacher. If I could add something to the list I would add be creative. I say this because if a teacher is not creative how can they motivate effectively.

  6. 5. Fight- Fight for our students. Fight to get the materials we need. Fight for families who are in need. Fight for equality and justice. Fight for their attention. Fight for test scores. Fight for our future …but most importantly, we must fight for compassion.

  7. Hi Ms. Hines! My name is Emily and I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed this post. I think you nailed exactly what it means to be a teacher. I can see that you really care about your students. That’s what makes a great teacher! I loved your point that you made about attending more extra-curricular activities. I know it means so much to your students that you come to their games, recitals, or just whatever!

  8. I had my doubts cleared, Valuable post! thanks for sharing this with me!

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