Terrance Franklin – Junior High School History Teacher

 shutterstock_262448087Teaching Interview with Terrance Franklin

A hard working Junior High School teacher from San Diego, California that teaches US and World History

Tell us about Your Educational Background?

I received my Bachelor Degree in Education from San Diego State University in 1996. After graduation, I floated around from three different middle / Jr High schools in Los Angeles. I’ve been teaching at the same Junior High School since 2002.

Your Current Educational Career Choice: nature and location.

Currently I am a history teacher for a Junior High School in San Diego. I really like working with the kids at my school as they all have highly diverse backgrounds and personalities. I chose this particular field of study because my Uncle was a teacher and was a great influence in my life.

How many hours do you work each week?

Typically my work week is about 45 to 50 hours. From actual class time to prepping for exams, grading and other daily projects. The really busy weeks are parent / teacher conferences though.

How much time are you able to spend with your family, friends?

I’ve been single pretty much all my life, so I don’t have a lot of family to spend time with. However, as my career has evolved, I have met several fellow teachers that have become great friends. It’s great spending time away from ‘the job’ with people in the same field, because we all have a similar passion for life and education.

Do you have time for hobbies/recreational activities? If yes, how much time?

I am a pretty good guitar player and play in a few local bands. What’s really funny is when one of my students sees me playing at a show and says, “yo, Mr. Franklin’ I didn’t know you were cool.”

Can you take us through what a 9-5 (or 6 am—10 pm) day actually entails for someone in your field?

My day always starts at 5 am with a 25 minute job. I find that waking up early and getting some exercise get’s the blood pumping quickly. After taking showers and getting lunch ready, I leave for work around 7am. Our classes start at 8:05, so that gives me about 30 minutes of prep time for the 5 individual classes I have each day.

I teach 7th and 8th grade History classes. Each period lasts about an hour, and each classroom has a different curriculum. This makes the day pretty interesting, because I need to plan 5 different ways to teach very similar subjects. However, this also makes the learning experience better for the students – who are the reasons why we do what we do.
First period is 7th grade World History. We focus primarily on exploring a general scope of common historical events that shape the foundation of the world. What I find interesting is that many of the students in this class actually want to dig deeper into certain subjects. For example; the history of the Roman Empire is pretty fun to teach as it often stimulates a bunch of questions from the students.

Second period is 7th grade Advanced World History. In this course study, the content is more streamlined and is for ‘college prep’ students that are accelerating their learning curve. I teach this class in quarters – focusing on time periods as opposed to geographic areas.

Third period is 8th grade US History. Do you remember having to memorize the US Constitution? Well, that’s where we focus our studies in the 8th grade US History classes. There is a pretty diverse group of kids in the third period class, but they did pretty well this past year. We actually had a 100% pass ratio, so we are very pleased with the growth of this course.

After third period, it’s time for a break. I have about 25 minutes to myself; but it’s often spent grading or prepping for the next two classes.

Fourth period is Advanced US History. Another CP course, where the students typically write more essay’s and the testing is more critically thinking. I think this is an area that could use some improvement on however, as critical thinking skills should be taught to all students in my opinion.

Why did you enter the field of becoming a Teacher?

I need to thank Uncle Clifford for this one. My mom’s brother was an amazing man that was a high school teacher in Arkansas. He taught history and was one of those rare people that ‘literally make history come alive’. What made him such as good teacher in my opinion was his personality. He knew when to laugh, when to be serious and when to bust out one of his famous US president impressions.

Beyond the personal influence of family, I wanted to become a teacher to help the development of our young students. In my district, we have a lot of underprivileged children, and I find it to be my job to help guide them in the right direction during the time I get to spend with them. The teaching of history is one part of this entire equation.

What characteristics do you think allow someone to thrive in this career field? 

Time management is the first, but you also have to have compassion for all students and understand that not all of them are exactly the same. It’s critical that you pace yourself during your day and not play favorites. Having a strong intestinal fortitude is also a great idea – especially during teacher / parent conferences.

What have been the characteristics that have allowed you to be successful?

Flexibility. Without question, this is the personal strength that has permitted me to continue on my current career path. Students, and curriculum are always changing and evolving. So as teachers, we need to be 100% focused on the now – but be adaptable for the future.

What gets you excited about your job and why?

Growth is what gets me excited about my job. Seeing a group of 25 kids start off with very little knowledge about history – till final exams when they have a pretty solid grasp of how our world has become what it is today is rather exciting.

On a scale from 1-10 how hard was it to get where you are now?  Was it worth the journey?

For me it was about a 4. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from very young in my life, so I really didn’t have any problems with the career choice. My hardest part was college – staying focused on what I wanted to do with the multiple distractions. However, I made it and love my job today.

What one thing would you like to see changed in your field? 

I spoke about this above – the need to teach critical thinking skills in all classes. Let’s stimulate the though process as it tends to create better overall people that can solve problems themselves instead of being dependent on others.

What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your career?

I would love for a past student to say that they became a teacher because of my work. Pay it forward Uncle Clifford.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

Be yourself. So many teachers try so hard to be the students ‘best friend’ or buddy. I think that if you teach from the heart; people will naturally gravitate to that. Always be prepared to learn, and continual learning. As a teacher your job is to pass along what you’ve learned – but if you don’t personally evolve; the job will become much harder.

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