What is it like being a public high school teacher?
I'm not one, but I have a sister, sister in law, 3 nieces and a nephew in law who are all teachers. Most teach lower age groups but my sister and sister in law did teach (retired now) high school. Note, all but one was in public schools. Overall, it's like any other job, some parts they like,some parts they don't. Some students they like, some they don't. Some parents they like, some they don't. Why I say the word like, I mean that they have a good working relationship with them.
The one thing I think is funny and this is especially true for the younger teachers, is they start harping on the normal positions other teachers do and the NEA etc. One of my nieces (technically step niece) was complaining about the pay etc. When I mentioned hours to her, as in her hours are shorter than most other professionals she is comparing herself too and more time off also. She started saying how she does this,that and the other thing. She easily works an 8–9 hour day. Her mom just came in room and I asked her, hey if XXX (her husband, my brother) worked an 8–9 hour day what would you think? She said matter of factly and not knowing the conversation that oh, he must have taken a day off or at least half a day off. Why? No reason i said. Her daughter was upset, but it wasn't a setup, it was actual real life. I think too many young teachers hear the cool aid that they should get more etc. The thing I bring to them, is if I could make a good salary working as a teacher. I would have taken that job. Instead,I knew it didn't pay that great, but it did have great benefits and time off. Didn't you know pay range when you went to school? They all did. So why are you complaining now? They all thought they should get paid more. I asked, did they teach in school economics and supply\demand? That's what determines pay. If pay was a lot higher, then more people would go into field, but since they already have enough teachers, why would they?
My first year of teaching was at a K-12 school. The experience of high school teaching opened my eyes to education and behavior issues that I never thought I would see. I learned to deal with refusal, defiant, and fighting behaviors. This was a huge challenge to diffuse, but I overcame it in the end despite low support from administration (I give credit to my Lord for that). It was great seeing students achieve by "getting it", and I enjoyed the humorous moments.
The operational side is demanding but rewarding. In my state (Arkansas), we have 200 minimum minutes for planning. However, one day is devoted to attending a PLC. Because of this, lesson planning for your class can be a challenge as I had to come into work at least 30-60 mins. prior to the meeting (mine was 1st period). During the PLC, one had to update their data wall and to talk about data-driven instruction. Also, parental involvement was huge according to the ACSIP plan. Teachers had to take an active roll in contacting parents, which I had at least 250+ K-12 students.
It's one of the best jobs out there. Students in high school have outgrown the awkward middle-school hormone phase (for the most part) and really get engaged and invested in their own learning. You are able to form positive relationships with them and really watch them grow. Helping students get into college has been a particularly rewarding experience, especially when they come back and visit you after they graduate.
Yes, the work load is hard. You really need to be an expert in the subject matter you teach. But once you have developed positive relationships with the students, it doesn't really feel like work. They can make you laugh, cry, and then laugh again in the same day. I wouldn't trade it. Did I mention you have summers off? #bonus
I taught in high school for a total of three years...Being around students who feel they have grown and are preparing to go to college or university is very interesting is should say.They have that feeling of growth deep inside them