High School English Teacher (Female, Age 27) in Chicago, IL

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Female aged 27 who works as a High School English Teacher in Chicago, IL. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete our job profile survey so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job TitleHigh School English Teacher
Salary$50,000
Other Compensation None Set
Hours/Week
Company Size(not answered)
LocationChicago, IL
Years Experience2 years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career0
Education(not answered)
Income Rating0 / 10
Interest Rating0 / 10
Work-Life Rating0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating0 / 10

Table of Contents

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
I work for the Chicago Public Schools, the third largest public school district in the United States that serves over 430,000 students and employs over 44,000 people.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
I introduce new reading and writing concepts to students, handle student behavior and classroom management, and provide feedback to students on the ways to explore texts in a classroom environment.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
CPS teachers work a total of 193 days per year. CPS offers 9 weeks paid vacation during the summer, two weeks in December, and one week in Spring. We get 10 sick days a year, a PPO and HMO option for health insurance, a 7% pension plan, and a 403B option.

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?
Well compensated.

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
I work directly with students on a daily basis. On an average day, I work with 120 students. I also work with a group of 10-15 teachers regularly.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?
Yes

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?
Yes

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
My supervisors include the head of the English department, the assistant principals, and the principal. I see some of these people more than others during observation days and teacher meetings (held about once a month). I work with the teachers on my floor to resolve student issues, address concerns we have about students, and plan school functions geared toward students and parents.

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 2
Benefits: 6
Hours: 3
Co-Workers: 4
Supervisors: 5
Job Title: 8
Level of Responsibility: 7
The Actual Work: 1

A day in the life of…

Please describe a typical workday for you in your current job:

5am to 6am
6am to 7am
7am to 8amI arrive at work at or near 7:30 a.m. After swiping in and gathering any announcement from the teacher mailbox area, I head to my classroom. I turn on my lights, get educational materials for the day ready (this includes making copies, grading papers, and organizing books and other materials). I usually receive a before-school visit from a student requesting help with homework or wanting my advice on a personal matter.
8am to 9amThe first class of the day begins at 8:00, but I have a prep period during the first period, so I grade papers, organize books in my classroom library, or wander the building looking for teachers I need to talk to about student concerns. I also stop any students in the halls and check for passes or take down names for detentions.
9am to 10amI begin teaching just before 9:00 a.m. and this continues throughout the day. I begin each class with a reflective question of quick cognitive activity. I get students’ attention, introduce concepts, and pass out any papers. I give students texts to read and ask them questions of varying levels to gauge their understanding of what they read. I provide short and long writing assignments to check student understanding.
10am to 11amI repeat this instruction four times, which means I teach the same material (more or less, since some classes move at different paces) five times per day. Each class is different due to student differences, but I still begin each class with a reflective question of quick cognitive activity. I get students’ attention, introduce concepts, and pass out any papers. I give students texts to read and ask them questions of varying levels to gauge their understanding of what they read. I respond to disciplinary concerns quite often in my high school environment, and that means keeping a cool head and explaining why a student’s behavior is inappropriate and coming up with ways to help the student get back on track. I write notes to school disciplinarians, call parents, and create student punishments and detentions.
11am to 12pmI have two periods during the day that are “prep” periods. During this time I create worksheets that correlate with the concepts taught each day. I try to break any writing assignments down into steps–what should we do BEFORE writing? How to we organize a paper? What is a thesis and introduction? What literary terms do we need to understand a text? I sometimes make copies during these preps, and very often have curriculum meetings about content area goals. I also host students in my class who must serve detentions I have given for bad behavior or performance, and come up with activities for them to do in order to “make it up.”
12pm to 1pmTeaching continues until 2:45. I begin each class with a reflective question of quick cognitive activity. I get students’ attention, introduce concepts, and pass out any papers. I give students texts to read and ask them questions of varying levels to gauge their understanding of what they read. I also collect homework assignments and review the current homework with students. I respond to student questions and concerns, and often provide mini “motivational speeches” to keep kids focused and to make sure they understand what I expect of them.
1pm to 2pm
2pm to 3pm
3pm to 4pmI leave work anywhere from 3:00 to 4:00. One to two days per week I am at school until 4:00 due to after-school clubs or student conferences (these are informal). Sometimes I stay after to clean up, grade papers, make copies, or organize. I am at home by 4:30 at latest, and I spend an average of 30 minutes per day preparing for classes once at home. This usually does not happen until after 7:00 p.m., although every teacher has different preferences about when they will do these administrative tasks. This includes worksheet creation, text selection, and grading.
4pm to 5pmOnly about twice per semester (which is 4 months long) do I stay exceptionally late (6:00 p.m. or later). This is due to grading of large projects or due to parent-teacher conferences for report card pick-up.
5pm to 6pm
6pm to 7pm
7pm to 8pm
8pm to 9pm
9pm to 10pm
10pm to 11pmI am asleep by 10:30 most nights, and wake up at 6:45 p.m.
11pm to 12am

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
I contacted a teacher I had met very informally and she directed me to the English department head.

What was the application process?
One must register on the district’s human resources website first, but I ultimately applied by sending an electronic resume, faxing my resume, and bringing a 100-page teaching portfolio to an interview.

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
I was interviewed first over the phone by the head of the high school’s English department. Then I was brought in for a two hour interview where I discussed my previous experience, showed examples of lesson plans and student work, and spoke with five other individuals (a mix of teachers and assistant principals).

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
What strategies do you use to increase student achievement in reading and writing? What types of texts do you believe will interest students most? What is the best teaching moment you have ever had? What is the worst moment you have experienced while teaching? How do you motivate students who appear unmotivated? How might you respond to a student with major behavioral problems in your classroom? What is the best way to engage parents in the educational process?

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
In some ways, yes. In others, no. It is very difficult to explain to a new teacher just how busy he or she will be. At a school with over 2,000 students who come from low-income backgrounds, it is also difficult to explain just how trying it can be to work with teens all day. I don’t believe the organization did a good job of explaining school policies, procedures and rules well enough. I also don’t think I had enough emotional support at the beginning. But overall, I have developed strong relationships with staff and supervisors that has been very beneficial.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
I received a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and then went back to school to receive a Master’s degree in education and a teaching certificate. I also worked for two years in non-profit education and received workshop training in literacy-related instruction.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
Yes. I spent two years attending a Master’s program part-time during the evenings. We studied theory and practice and had the opportunity to create mock lessons plans and activities regularly. I don’t believe teacher prep programs do enough to help you prepare for classroom management or behavioral concerns. I also believe teacher prep programs make one believe that there are hundreds of jobs open and waiting for good teachers, but this is not always the case.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?
The required “student teaching” portion of any teacher prep program is so valuable. Without a teacher would have no practice in a real-world environment. I was supported by the full-time teacher under which I did my student teaching, and they provided feedback on a daily basis about my work.

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
First it is required that a person complete a bachelor’s degree. It is also required that part of that program prepare one for certification in a certain area of focus (one must choose between early childhood, elementary, or high school). They must observe in schools according to their Bachelor’s degree requirements, and must pass a series of tests that gauge a teacher’s readiness for the classroom. Finally, a period of 8 to 16 weeks must be spent working unpaid under a full-time teacher (called student teaching) so that they learn how to organize and run a classroom.

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
A teacher must be organized enough to maintain the flow of student work in a timely manner, and must be able to grade assignments using constructive feedback. A teacher must be very patient with students, as some schools have challenging student populations with behavior problems. A teacher must know how to recognize when a student is struggling and must be creative enough to know how to respond effectively. Teachers must be confident in themselves so that they will not get discouraged by a lack of resources or support. The job is often difficult since there are so many student personalities to manage. A teacher must know how to plan ahead and create meaningful learning opportunities for students that teach new and important skills. Teachers must truly care about their students in order to make a real difference. A great deal of the job is not about teaching, it is about listening and motivating.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
At least a Bachelor’s degree.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
In order to find a teaching job, a person must be well-organized, have a teaching certificate, create a portfolio of teaching and learning activity examples, and contact each school they are interested in before the beginning of the school year. It requires one to be persistent. Before you begin teaching, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Teachers are not angels, and the job is most often nothing like the teaching positions we see in Hollywood. There are small achievements that happen everyday, but the work is stressful and you must be ready to work hard and set clear boundaries for your students.

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
Teaching is definitely part of my career plan. I have always been in some job or another that helped people develop new skills, and classroom teaching is the most traditional form of skill development. Making a difference in the lives of young people is something I’ve wanted to do for many years.

What are your current career goals?
I hope to remain a teacher for a few more years before exploring the world of educational consulting and program development in a for-profit or non-profit setting. Perhaps one day I will be the educational director for a non-profit organization, or I may open my open business and provide tutoring and training for students and teachers.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

TitleLengthSalaryDescription
Prior Job 1Program and Curriculum Coordinator2 years35000բ__??? Served as curriculum and program consultant for seventeen after-school 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) operated by agency in Chicago Public Schools and suburban districts.

բ__??? Facilitated monthly staff training opportunities focused on literacy, numeracy, ESL, drama/theatre, and classroom management.

բ__??? Ensured that programs complied with grant requirements; monitored progress towards program objectives and aligned lessons with IL Learning Standards.

բ__??? Researched and wrote public and private educational grants with awards totaling more than 3 million dollars over five years.

բ__??? Provided parent workshops, adult education, and trainings at all sites.

բ__??? Developed and sustained relationships with volunteers from local agencies and universities to increase literacy programming at each center.

Prior Job 2Learning Center Coordinator2 years27000Directed the development and execution of a diverse curriculum in the humanities for formerly homeless adult women.

բ__??? Planned and led 3 classes weekly in humanities, English literature and language arts, philosophy, writing, and art, varying themes quarterly.

բ__??? Established connections with and provided referrals to outside agencies for clients attending ESL, GED, college, test-prep, and job-readiness classes.

բ__??? Managed yearly operating budget of $150,000; reduced program expenses 30% through creative supply ordering, solicitation of in-kind donations and strong donor relationships; directed a $15,000 scholarship program.

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:2.44/4.00

GPASchoolDegree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
4.4/5.0University of IL at ChicagoEnglish Writing
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)
3.7/4.0DePaul UniversityEducation – Secondary English

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