Interested in teaching high school? A profile of social studies teacher Alisa Harvey, with basic information interview questions was in the first edition of...Parachute for Teens. Read below for her thoughts about her job now that she has seven years of experience.
Alisa is one of those special teachers who not only loves what she does, but goes more than an extra mile to help her students.
Ms. Harvey with one of her students.
Name: Alisa Harvey Age: 33 Job title: Social Studies Teacher Salary: $45,000*
Field: Education Employer: Beaverton (OR) School District Degree: MAT (Masters in Teaching)
Cost of training: $40,000 Website: http://sites.google.com/site/alisaharveyonline/home
What tasks to you do most often? Checking daily homework assignments and preparing copies of handouts before class. I’ve developed a teacher website, which I update daily. I use it to stay organized and keep in touch with students and parents.
Do you still enjoy your work? A lot of new teachers burn out in the first three years. Fortunately, this is my seventh year and I’m still in love with my career. Sure, it’s challenging, but I have more skills and better experience to cope with the problems I face in the classroom. This job suits me. When I was a fundraiser and event planner working in local non-profits, I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy in the long run. I never worry about that now. When I get burned out or discouraged, I know that summer vacation will rejuvenate me and help me focus on my priorities again.
Is your job a dream job for you? Teaching is my dream job, but the circumstances are never ideal. New initiatives, budget cuts, and students who need our help more than ever before mean that we’re pulled in many different directions.
In your first interview, you made some predictions about your field. Which ones have happened? I have seen many new initiatives in my field since I became a teacher seven years ago. When I began, “small schools” were the model. Literacy was a strong focus in every discipline for many years. Now, we’re talking more about assessment. Our school is moving toward a “proficiency” model of assessment, so that every kid can demonstrate core skills before they graduate.
What are the current issues and challenges in your field? Funding public education will always be a challenge. The current economic recession has forced my district into a 2-year hiring freeze, and we have several “furlough” days this year. There is a distinct possibility that our school year will be shortened by 10-15 days, if the state legislature is unable to plug the state’s budget hole. With all these changes, our students suffer.
Where do you see your career going in the next 5 years? Although I enjoy being in the classroom, I’ll be ready for another professional challenge in a couple of years. I might like to coordinate our school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, or work at the district office as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). These job opportunities allow educators to take a break from teaching responsibilities, while learning new skills and experiences. But I always see myself returning to the classroom. Last year, I mentored a teaching intern who was pursuing her Masters in Teaching at a local liberal arts college. It was a valuable and rewarding experience, because I had to think about what I was doing and try to teach those skills to a new professional. I’d like to mentor again in the future.
Has your ultimate career goal changed? No, I would be thrilled to work at the same school for 30 years and retire from Beaverton School District.
Have you used social networking in a job search? No.
*Authors note: That teachers as good as Alisa are making $45,000--after seven years on the job is criminal--and exhibit A for the displaced values of our society. Alisa is bright, skilled and dedicated. In any other field, she would be making double her salary.
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