Job Overview for a High School Family and Consumer Science Teacher

Review of Printed Literature

Job description. The curriculum of Family and Consumer Sciences is not the stereotypical cook and sew. Although, cooking and sewing are covered, there are many other subjects addressed in the class, and it is the teacher’s role to make sure that the students’ think outside of the box, and cover a wide variety of topics that will help their students achieve success in the real world. The Family and Consumer Science (FCS) classroom is a very informal learning environment where students will constantly be involved with hands-on activities. According to Sproles and Sproles (2000, p. 156),FCS educators are involved in many different activities including: classroom activities, home experiments, youth organization events, simulated experiences and several others. The curriculum in which an educator is required to teach is generally outlined by the state, and from there the teacher creates their lesson plans and then instructs their students.

The work day for a FCS teacher is not the same as the school day for the students. Putting forth the effort during after hours is a huge part of the responsibilities of the educators. Not only do the teachers have to grade the papers and tests they have assigned, but they themselves may have homework, because they are required to update their skills through continuing education programs. In addition to the work that goes into the teaching of their specific classrooms, FCS teachers also have responsibilities to the school in general. They have to advise their students in both academic and personal matters, supervise after-school events, serve on community advisory boards, consult with other teachers, parents, and administration, prepare bulletin boards and other visual aids, and shop for the materials they will need to efficiently teach their students (Sproles & Sproles, 2000, p. 156). A FCS teacher’s work schedule will vary class to class, day to day, year to year, but the one constant they will always have is the fact that a lot of time and effort is necessary in order to do the best they can in their classroom and school.

Preparation for the job. To become a FCS educator a college degree is a necessity. It is also a requirement in all 50 states for teachers to be licensed in order to teach public school (“Teachers,” 2006, ¶17). The specifics of the licenses may vary from state to state, but it is necessary for a person to have a bachelor’s degree and to have completed the guidelines given by the state. Licensing for a teacher in a vocational subject area can vary some from the regular teacher license, for it is more important to show experience in the field of family and consumer sciences and in turn fewer education classes must be completed.

The curriculum for a person to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in FCS education is a very well-rounded schedule. The classes that are required, range anywhere from food courses, to fashion, to education, to child and family studies, to interior design, and back around. A person who is going to teach in a Family and Consumer Science classroom, needs to be prepared to cover all the basis that may rise in a person’s daily life, so the requirements for the teaching license is very diverse. Outside of the main college requirements it would be very helpful for a person to take extra classes in the topics that will be covered in their classes. A teacher must have a very strong knowledge of the curriculum in order for the students to get the most of each and every class.

It is also important for a person pursing a job in the Family and Consumer Sciences Education field to be able to work with people of a younger age. Working at a camp, or as a teacher’s aid, or any other job where a person is put in the authoritative role with hands on activities, is bound to help them to reach their later goal of becoming a FCS educator. People that have more experience dealing with teenagers in a social and academic level not only are more likely to be successful as a teacher, but they are more likely to get the job above others who are lacking the experience.

Job benefits. There are several benefits in becoming a teacher. Some of the benefits are intrinsic, emotional, whereas the rest are extrinsic, material (Kauchak & Eggen, 2005, p. 6), but either way they make the teaching profession worthwhile. Having students come to you with advice, having those same students thank you for your help, and getting through to the students that don’t always put forth the best effort are just a few examples of the emotional rewards that can come from teaching. According to Kauchack and Eggen (2005, p. 8), it also a benefit to become a teacher in a subject matter like Family and Consumer Sciences, because it is a class where you have the opportunity to show your excitement of the material and hopefully the students can get excited about it as well. Teaching provides a lot of emotional and intellectual rewards, which for some people is enough, but for others there different types of rewards and benefits as well.

The more external aspects of the job attract people to become teachers, and for good reason. The job security is a big plus in becoming a teacher, because after a generally short period of time, tenure is awarded which provides a great deal of job security. Another good benefit in becoming a teacher is the free time they get in June, July, and August. The summer vacations, weekends, and holiday breaks are very convenient, especially if you like the opportunity to travel without having to miss a lot of work. It also makes it easier to have a family, because you have nights, weekends, vacations, and summers to free to spend with them. The salary, itself for teachers is not as high as some people feel is right, but it is, by no means, the smallest paying job available. The average salary for a teacher is anywhere from $41,400 to $45,920 (“Teachers”, 2006, ¶35), and it is increasing as each year passes. Also, the retirement plan and the medical and dental insurance plan for teachers is a very strong one that should protect teachers once they do retire or are injured.

Job drawbacks. For anything worthwhile in life you have to take the good with the bad, and unfortunately there are drawbacks in becoming a FCS educator, but they do not outweigh the positive. There is a great likelihood that you will run across the unmotivated, disrespectful student and it can become very frustrated when you can not get through to this particular student, so it can be an emotionally-trying profession. Also, there are many activities teachers must participate in even though it may not relate at all to their chosen field. Monitoring the halls in-between classes, or sitting in on detentions are just two examples of the duties required of teachers that aren’t always as fulfilling or entertaining to do as the teaching the courses, but they are often mandatory by the administration of the school.

Professional opportunities. The need for teachers will always be around, but over the next few years the demand will increase greatly due to the retirement of the people filling those positions right now. According to the “Teachers” (2006, ¶32), “qualified vocational teachers also are currently in demand in a variety of fields at both the middle school and secondary school levels.” Being able to teach a specialty like Family and Consumer Sciences allows a person a greater variety of choices of where and when to work, because the demand for teachers in those type of positions far outweigh the supply of people with a degree in FCS education.

In order for teachers to be the most desirable candidate for a position and just to continue to stay updated throughout their teaching careers, professional organizations and journals are necessities to continue growth. Several journals will supply teachers with information like tips on how to deal with socializing today’s youth, create productive ways to manage cultural conflicts in an educational setting, and provide solutions for individuals and families to cope with economic pressures (Crase & Jackson, 2006, p. 2), which is helpful to many teachers, because the information does not only come from the experts, but the peers of teachers as well. There are also several professional organizations FCS teachers can join, like the AAFCS, which provide their members with benefits such as: professional journals, grants, networking opportunities, and opportunities to attend countless events that will all benefit a teacher.

Personal characteristics. There are several characteristics that are very important in order to be an effective teacher in today’s world. A person who is patient, with good people skills, nurturing, creative, organized and dependable will make the best teacher. It is important for a FCS teacher to be very patient, because there are a lot of hands-on activities that take place in the classroom, which means there is a lot of opportunity for error and a teacher must be able to stay calm. Creativity is another very important trait for a FCS educator to posses, because and FCS teacher doesn’t want to just reinforce the negative stereotype that all they do is cook and sew, so they must be able to think of different things to do, and when they do cooking and sewing, they need to able to put a creative spin on it and that makes it seem different and unique. It is also very important for teachers to be well organized, because they need to not only keep track of all their students, but they also have to keep track of all their work, and they have to have an organized schedule so there is time to cover all of the things needed in their time allotted.

Work and family issues. Having a personal and a professional life can be difficult to juggle from time to time. The work day for a teacher is not as bad as some other professions, but they will be gone during most of the day, and when they are home some time and energy still goes to work, whether it is planning for the next, grading homework, or making phone calls to parents. The time spent towards work, is time taken away from their family which can create some tension, which in return creates difficulties at work, because according to Curtis (2004, p. 23), “Employees who are anxious about loved ones and forced to work despite the situation are distracted and therefore less productive”. The problems at work can affect a teacher’s home life, and a teacher’s home life can affect their work life.

On the other hand, there are crucial support systems that can come from the home and will help make the difficulties in the work life easier. It is important to be able to come home from a hard day of work, and have people there that love you and will give you advice and support. It is also a plus just to have people to talk to, whether it is on a positive subject or a negative one. It can be difficult to have a personal and work life, but if the teacher has their priorities set it will be much easier to balance, and hopefully create a win/win situation for everyone.

References

Crase, R.D., & Jackson, C.W. (2006). Educational objectives. The FACS, 1-8.

Curtis, J.W. (2004). Balancing work and family for faculty.Academe, 90(6), 21-23.

Kauchak, D., & Eggen P. (2005). Introduction to teaching. Upper Saddle River: Merrill Prentice Hall.

LeHotan, P. (personal communication, October 27, 2006)

Sproles E.K., & Sproles, G.B. (2000). Careers serving families and consumers (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.

Teachers. (2006). U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 24, 2006, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos069.htm