Teaching is considered a noble profession. Teachers help us pass on information from our past onto future generations. They offer guidance on all levels, from teaching the ABCs to explaining rocket science. Teachers aren’t as well compensated as some other professions, even though most professionals have to pass through their hands. If you are considering becoming a teacher, this guide is for you. Here are a few steps to follow.
1. Be Absolutely Sure You Want to Teach
Why do you want to be a teacher? There are a few questions to ask to help you evaluate this:
- Do you have the desire? It will help you hang on when things get tough.
- Can you complete the requirements? There are some prerequisites that need to be met, like earning a degree and a teaching license.
- Are you okay with the salary? Though the salary varies depending on various factors, it is lower than some other professions, and you need to be okay with that.
- Do you have the necessary skills and talent? You need patience, charisma, willingness, and strictness, to name a few qualities.
One way you can be sure is to gain prior experience. You can do this by volunteering, shadowing teachers, or becoming a substitute. You will experience firsthand how it is to be in the teaching environment. One great thing about teaching is job satisfaction. Seeing your students better at the end of the school year than they were at the beginning is a great motivator.
2. Determine What You Want to Teach
This is a two-fold point. First, you need to determine what age you want to teach. Secondly, you may also need to decide which subject you want to teach. Pre-school and elementary teachers have a broader curriculum. Teachers for these levels need to be knowledgeable in many disciplines. Teachers for older students like from middle school onwards can specialize in specific subjects. There is also the option of specializing in special needs education. Here, you will teach children with disabilities and developmental disorders. For special education, teaching does not follow age but knowledge base.
3. Settle on How You Will Gain the Training
Every district has specific requirements they require their teachers to meet. Be sure to know what the prerequisites are. There are four key training options to consider:
a. University-Based Training
This option means you go to school first, obtain the certificate then start teaching. Many districts require the teachers to have experience before they are licensed. Some teaching programs incorporate a teacher preparation program to help teachers gain this experience. This option may mean that you are in school for longer before you start teaching. University-based training can be expensive, so you may need to consider payment options like getting a scholarship or applying for financial aid.
b. Teach First
The goal of Teach First is to eradicate educational inequality. They place top graduates in challenging schools for two years minimum. After a brief residential program, you begin teaching and earning immediately. This is a good option for those who want to start teaching quickly. It is also great for those who feel they may not be able to afford a university or college tuition. What’s more, you gain experience on the job eliminating the need for a preparatory program.
c. School Direct
This is a great middle point between university training and Teach First. You start teaching in a single school immediately and attend school once a week. You have the option of paying for the university tuition or getting paid by the school. The choice available to you will depend on your experience level.
d. School Centered Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)
In this case, you will approach a school directly and train with partnered institutions. SCITT is not as common as Teach First and School Direct. You usually need a pre-existing relationship with the school you approach.
There are some common things every teacher must learn. They include:
- Teaching methodologies
- Special education
- Curriculum and instructional designs
- How to assess students
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4. Get a Teaching License
You won’t always start teaching immediately you finish your training. Some schools and districts have to test you before giving you a teaching license. You may have to do some assessment tests like Praxis. Some students do this alongside their training so that they start teaching immediately.
Once you have met the necessary prerequisites, you can start looking for a job. Look for guides on how to draft good resumes and cover letters. Learn about how to conduct yourself at interviews. Finally, search for job vacancies. You can look through generalized boards, niche job boards, or specific school and district websites. When you get that job, do your best. Besides bringing up great future professionals, you may inspire some of your students to become teachers later on.