Becoming a Teacher
Everyone has at least a few teachers that they remember fondly from their days in school. A good teacher can inspire their children, motivating them in positive ways to do better. A good teacher can make an otherwise boring subject interesting, thus peaking your interest and making it easier to learn. Being a teacher is definitely a noble calling. In recent years the industry has seen an increase in teaching jobs due to more schools being built and more attention being placed on education. So with all the jobs available, you might wonder how to become a teacher? What are some of the requirements? If you like kids and having the summer’s off, here is what you need in order to get started.
What You Need
Not everyone is cut out to become a teacher. First, and most important, you have to like kids. You need to be able to relate to them and empathize with them whenever they have a problem that is either school related or personal. If you don’t like spending time with kids, if they get on your nerves, then teaching is not for you.
To find out if you are cut out to be a teacher, you can always get some childcare experience by working in a daycare. Daycares may not be as educational-minded but it will give you a good crash course in what it is like being around children for eight hours a day. Most daycares have an after school program so you are not just going to be stuck with toddlers and pre-kindergarten ages.
Another thing you can do is to tutor younger kids or get involved in community projects geared towards children such as after school programs at the library or coaching a Little League baseball team. Anything to get you used to how children behave in groups is good experience.
Where To Start
To become a teacher, you are going to need a college degree in education. There are dozens of schools in every state that offer degrees in the education field. You can get your degree in elementary education, high school levels, administration, or even secondary education which is college-level courses. To begin teaching in elementary and high school levels, you will need a bachelor’s degree. If you want to teach college-level courses, you may be required to have a Master’s degree.
An accredited college program will likely include several hours of classroom observation and student teaching. This is where you go and observe how teachers interact with students in the classroom and you even have to run the classroom yourself. After you have completed almost all of your required courses, you will have to spend two semesters of student teaching.
If you already have a degree or some college education you can check into becoming a teacher’s aide or a substitute teacher while you finish your degree. This will give you some experience in the classroom before you actually graduate.
Once you graduate with your degree, you need to be certified and get your license before you can get a job. Each state has different requirements but basically you have to take a series of tests to become certified. This is just to prove that you listened in class and that you are capable and ready to educate the next generation. If you don’t pass one of the certification exams the first time, don’t worry. You get another shot at it. After you pass and get certified, you are ready to be hired.
Some states offer what is called an emergency certification. This is usually when a state has low numbers in the teacher workforce or a candidate who already has already completed some college courses is needed to fill a full-time position. Emergency certification is often used instead of a candidate going through the two semesters of student teaching. This does not mean that the student gets out of taking their certification exams. It just means that they can work as a teacher while they finish their degree.
What Level Do You Prefer
Choosing the appropriate grade level is very important and requires some serious consideration. Some people may be better suited for certain age groups. For instance, you might get along better with younger kids than you do hormone-riddled teenagers. You definitely want to pick the age group you are best suited for or else it may end up being a very long school year for you.
Public Or Private School
Another major choice if you want to become a teacher is deciding whether you want to teach in a public or a private school. The difference between the two is that public schools are mostly state funded while private schools, which are not subject to all of the state regulations, are privately funded.
Private Schools: Require a bachelor’s degree or some college experience (not necessarily in education). Most of them are religious in nature. Since they are not subject to state requirements and accreditation, private schools get to determine their own requirements in both their teachers and students. Private schools tend to be safer because they have less school violence. Classroom sizes are typically smaller, giving teachers more time with students. There is less of a bureaucratic system that teachers have to deal with. Private schools usually offer less pay that public schools.
Public Schools: Requires at least a bachelor’s degree in education with a certification in the grade level that you wish to teach. The number of hours for public school teachers are shorter and you get the summers off. Most private schools are in session year round. Public schools generally have a wider variety of students from varying backgrounds. Teachers in public school are better paid than in private schools and they have better benefits such as health care and retirement.
Finding A Job
Once you have graduated, received your certification license, and decided what grade levels you wish to teach, it is time to find a job. Every state has a website with information on state education. This is where you would look to find state certification requirements and professional development programs. There will also be information about the state’s different school districts. You can look on the website or one of its links to check out job postings. You can also go to the website for the U.S. Department of Education for more information on districts.
Another method to use is to find different schools that you might be interested in working for and go to their separate website. Job openings will usually be posted on their site and you can read up on the school to see if it is right for you. You can even go to other sites such as Teachers-Teachers.com for more postings.
When looking for a job, don’t forget to write a good cover letter to your resume. There will be lots of competition for the jobs, especially in today’s economy, so you want your resume to really shine. And don’t neglect the power of networking. Use contacts where you can to find jobs and eventually you’ll get the grade that you want.