You have always enjoyed opening another person’s mind to a new idea. You are continuously curious for knowledge and are happy to call yourself an expert in your focus area. You are a teacher – or should be. Becoming a teacher can be an involved process that includes many different types of study and training to prepare you for the classroom. What does the typical career of a motivated teacher look like?
1) Complete your B.A.
Although requirements vary by state and between public versus private institutions, most schools require you have a B.A. or B.S. in order to begin teaching. Receiving your first degree in Education will put you ahead of the curve in terms of psychological and practical training, but is not strictly necessary in most cases. In lieu of a degree of Education, most teaching positions simply require you to have a degree in the subject area of your proposed teaching subject and prefer to see some type of teaching experience on your resume, even as private tutoring.
2) Receive your Teaching Certificate
One benefit of receiving a degree in Education is that, in most cases, you can easily receive a teaching certificate for the university’s state through or with the help of the program. If you did not complete your degree in education, most states will require you to complete a short qualification program that is designed to give you the basics of teaching know-how and a consequent teaching certificate allowing you to work in that state. Depending on the qualification program you choose, your certificate can be valid for specific age groups, special needs groups, or subject areas.
3) Find a Position
After you have all of the technical qualifications needed to be a teacher, the job search begins. Unfortunately, the financial crisis has affected this area of employment like most others. Many states have instituted hiring freezes for all “non-essential” teaching positions and salary freezes for those already working.
Education is a right, however, and thousands of teachers are necessarily hired every year. County and state job vacancy websites usually show public school teacher openings while traditional job hunting sites should advertise vacancies at private schools. Programs like Teach for America can also help you get started out teaching by providing you with some training and a mentor before placing you in an area with a high shortage of teachers.
4) Start the Fun Part – Teaching!
The first years teaching are notoriously difficult: You must establish your teaching style, find and create the material you want to use, discover the best way to reach your unique student audience, figure out how to teach everything you find essential while including everything your superiors (and usually the state) require, and a myriad of other confusing, tiring challenges.
Despite all this, the first years teaching are also terribly exciting and invigorating as you discover new things about yourself and your priorities. Don’t forget to appreciate and watch as you make a difference in others’ lives on a daily basis. Do the best you can do, take all the help you can get, and remember that your dedication will go a longer way than it may seem at times. Students know when their teacher is truly invested in their education and the feeling can often be mutually reciprocated. Don’t give up – it will get easier!
5) Keep Teaching – yourself
Just like their students, teachers need to continuously develop their skills. Once you have taught for a few years, you will probably have a better idea of what area(s) you would like to specialize in. To do this, you can enroll in a number of Master of Education or Master of Teaching courses that can teach you new skills and provide you with new tools for approaching your students. Luckily, because many professional students must continue working full-time while they complete post-graduate work, several night school programs now exist that let you flexibly take courses when and where you are able. Even more convenient, many universities offer online courses for development and specialization in certain subject areas.
Utah State University Online, for example, offers courses in Common Core teacher training for educators wishing to specialize in young learners’ mathematics through several easily accessible online modules. Courses can be taken for recertification, continuing education, or as part of a master’s degree program with participating universities. Pursuing further education not only helps you continue being great at your job (and potentially earn a bit more income), but also allows you to remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the classroom.
The life of a teacher, though at times less than appreciated, can be incredibly rewarding. Becoming a teacher may seem like a long and daunting challenge, but in reality it’s a rather straightforward process with obvious requirements and goals. If you are passionate about sharing your knowledge with others, don’t hesitate to start becoming a teacher today!
- Woman standing near the chalkboard – Shutterstock