Secondary Teacher Job Description
Secondary teachers educate students in grades 6-12 in their area of specialization. These specializations include subjects such as mathematics, history, economics, government, English, biology, chemistry, physics, music, art, and a number of foreign languages. Working in either middle schools or high schools, secondary teachers may have to move from classroom to classroom. Secondary teachers have to be able to stand on their feet for extended periods of time. They work school hours and have off all federal holidays. Those who succeed in this work environment thrive on the daily challenges of teaching new things and having new conversations with their students.
While secondary teachers do enjoy some independence, their position is junior-level within the academic hierarchy. While all the teachers answer to the principal, all the principals answer to the district superintendent. In relation to the students, though, secondary teachers function as the boss of their classroom. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for secondary teachers is set to rise 8 percent through 2026.
Secondary Teacher Duties and Responsibilities
Teaching involves many duties and responsibilities. We researched many secondary teacher job descriptions to come up with the following list of duties and responsibilities most relevant to this position:
Plan Lessons Based on State Curriculum
Each state has its own curriculum guidelines for each subject. Secondary teachers plan lessons based on the core competencies outlined in these guidelines. It takes some creativity to create engaging lessons that also fall within curriculum guidelines.
Deliver Lessons and Monitor Feedback
Being a secondary teacher is partly a public speaking gig. They deliver their lessons day in and day out, monitoring student behavior and engagement along the way. They then use this feedback to refine their lessons.
Create and Administer Tests to Monitor Student Progress
Secondary teachers use a grading system to grade assignments, tests, and quizzes designed to monitor student progress. Most secondary teachers create their own tests and quizzes based on their specific lessons. Secondary teachers may also administer state exams depending on the state they work in.
Maintain Classroom Harmony
With raging adolescent hormones, things can sometimes get out of hand in a secondary classroom. Secondary teachers have to have command of their classroom and conflict resolution skills to maintain classroom harmony.
Participate in Regular Staff Meetings
Most secondary schools have regular meetings for secondary teachers of the same subject. These meetings are for sharing teaching strategies and staying abreast of any policy changes. It can also involve team meetings for a group of teachers assigned to a certain “house” of students.
Secondary Teacher Skills
It takes a certain blend of knowledge, traits, and skills to succeed as a secondary teacher. Essential is a passion for kids. This isn’t a position that offers a nice paycheck. The best secondary teachers pride themselves on their ability to make an impact on their students. Secondary teachers have to be experts in their subject of choice. This requires a true passion for and childlike curiosity towards their subject. Today’s secondary teachers also have to be tech-savvy to enhance their lessons with multimedia components. Finally, secondary teachers have to have a thick skin. Kids may say awful things about them, but they can not take it personally. In addition to these qualities, secondary teachers need the following skills to obtain employment:
- Planning lessons using subject matter expertise
- Delivering lessons using public speaking skills
- Facilitating student engagement and conversation
- Diffusing potential altercations or unique situations using conflict resolution skills
- Collaborating with other teachers and academic professionals to ensure student success
Secondary Teacher Tools of the Trade
- Lesson plan templates – secondary teachers use these templates to make sure each lesson complies with the state curriculum
- Interactive whiteboard – interactive whiteboards are used to supplement lessons with multimedia components
Secondary Teacher Education and Training
Secondary teachers have two bachelor’s degrees—one in secondary education and one in their subject. They can obtain a teaching license with just a bachelor’s degree, but have to get a master’s in their subject to get a professional license. Their education requires a number of classroom observation hours, which varies by state. Programs end with a final semester of student teaching under the guidance of a practicing secondary teacher.
Secondary Teacher Salary
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for secondary teachers is $58,030. Those in the bottom 10 percent make below $38,180 and those in the top 10 percent make above $92,920. Pay depends heavily on location and experience.
Secondary Teacher Resources
Are you interested in exploring the career path of a secondary teacher? If so, check out the resources below. Note that the professional organizations included are general—each subject has its own specialized professional organizations.
National Education Association – The National Education Association is an organization focused on the betterment of public schools. Its website covers pressing issues in public education as well as offering advocacy resources.
Association of American Educators – The Association of American Educators is the largest nonunion organization for teachers in the country. Its website has a lot of resources for professional development and links to industry publications.
Solutions for the Secondary Classroom – Written by Lauren Randazzo, this blog, based on her 18 years of experience as a secondary teacher, contains helpful real-world stories for aspiring secondary teachers.
Secondary Sara – Secondary Sara is a blog written by an English teacher at a private middle school in Columbus, Ohio. It is updated regularly with articles pertaining to all kinds of secondary teachers.
The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity – This book is a great read for teachers who want to make a mark on their students and foster a creative environment.
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