The STEM Way

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4 Important Steps to Becoming a Teacher: A Guest Post by Susan Good

4 Important Steps to Becoming a Teacher

By Susan Good, creator of http://retirededucator.org/

 

Photo by Unsplash

Teaching is an extraordinarily rewarding career — most educators will agree. Good teachers are good listeners, concerned with the entire education of the learner, not just in certain subjects. But it can also be challenging. There’s a lot of red tape, time-consuming boxes you have to check. That’s why understanding what it takes to be a teacher is not only the first step along this career path, it’s also the most important one.

Considering a future as an educator? Here are four steps to take that help you determine the kind of teacher you want to be.

 

Different teaching licenses require different levels of education.

How much effort and energy can you put into your own education? The answer to this question will also help you decide what kind of educator you want to be. Most teaching positions will require a bachelor’s degree, though some programs — like daycare and Parent’s Day Out — may accept teachers and assistants with associate’s degrees. Almost all colleges and universities require, at minimum, a master’s degree, while some states require that level or higher for secondary teachers (high school) and administrators.

 

A career switch often takes into account your work experience.

It’s not uncommon for some professionals to make a career switch to teaching after years in another profession. You may need to go back to college. Fortunately, online education degree programs can help you earn your bachelor’s in education. Alternatively, you can take an accelerated accreditation program. The big benefit here is that you don’t have to give up your day job while you earn your degree online.

After completing your degree or certificate, you’ll need to pass your certification exams. These are usually different for each state, so it’s important to research the testing requirements in the state where you plan on teaching.

 

Know the subject and grades you want to teach early on.

Teaching is a very broad career. It’s important you decide what and who you want to teach shortly after you decide that you want to teach. Many people already have an inkling, but there are still a lot of open questions.

First, decide the age range you want to teach. You can choose from many levels, but they generally fall into early childhood (birth-5 years old), elementary (5-11), middle (11-14), and high school (14-18). Your post-secondary options are college and graduate/professional school. Decide the age you want to teach, then start pursuing your specialization.

Many elementary school teachers have more of a general education approach, but teachers of older learners have more room for specialization. You can teach science, English, foreign languages, math, and more. Even these categories have their own subsets, so get out there and explore your options.

Use online resources to narrow down your choices. For example, The STEM Way has worksheets and experiments that reinforce science, technology, engineering and mathematics lessons. Experimenting with some of these resources can help you decide which classes would be the most fulfilling to teach.

 

Landing your first job may take time and discernment.

All teachers have to participate in practicums, culminating in a semester or year of student teaching. This is not only a time to discover who you are in the classroom, but also where you want to be. Don’t be surprised if your expectations are challenged at every turn and you wind up going in a direction you didn’t consider before.

Even if you don’t wind up teaching at a school where you had practical experience, teachers know other teachers, so build your network. Your professors have connections with opportunities, too. Prepare for those job interviews — even the ones that don’t seem like a good fit now are open doorways of possibility.

Deciding to become a teacher is just the first of many choices you’ll make throughout your entire career. Just remember that you aren’t in this alone — the Internet has a wealth of information, support, and resources that can help you with everything from career moves to daily lesson plans. For science teachers, visit The STEM Way for its teacher-tested and student-approved lessons and worksheets — just one of many homes teachers can find online.

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