Teachers have a wide variety of responsibilities. They develop curriculum for the classroom, explain academic concepts, proctor tests and help students achieve educational success. Clearly, a teacher’s role is very important in the lives of students. They have the ability to shape and change lives in the classroom and direct students down their own desired educational and professional paths.
If you’re interested in pursuing this rewarding career, there are several things you can do. Each state has its own regulations and certification requirements, but there is a general route you can take to become a teacher. Continue reading for more information on these steps to begin a career in education.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The minimum education requirement for K-12 public school teachers in all 50 states is the completion of a bachelor’s degree. When choosing your major, think about the grade level and subject you would prefer to teach. This can help you narrow your focus when deciding on courses to take.
There are flexible majors such as secondary education, or you can choose a specialty major to work as an ESL teacher, reading specialist, special education teacher, etc. You also have the option to major in a teachable subject. For example, biology is a main subject taught in high school. So if you decide to major in biology, you will be equipped to teach this and perhaps other science-related courses in a school setting. Since a subject like lighting design isn’t usually taught in public schools, it’s not considered a teachable subject.
You will likely need to take education classes for the specific age group or specialty that you wish to teach. Additionally, there are general education classes that are typically required regardless of the type of certification you’re pursuing. Prospective teachers can expect to take courses in child psychology or development, curriculum design and teaching methods, and assessment practices.
Before becoming a certified teacher, students must also gain real life classroom experience. Supervised education experience allows individuals to hone their skills, receive guidance from a mentor and practice the day-to-day duties of a real teacher.
This experience is usually 15 weeks, or one full semester, depending on the certification program. There are often educational requirements that must be fulfilled before you can start working as a student teacher, so be sure to check with your state’s program criteria and procedures.
Most states require prospective teachers to take the Praxis series of tests in order to become certified. This testing takes place after the educational and student teaching requirements have been met. The tests will include questions about general subjects such as math, reading comprehension and English, plus questions about the specific subject area you wish to teach.
Certification to Become a Teacher
After you’ve successfully completed all of the above requirements, you will be qualified to receive teacher certification for your state’s public schools. Teacher certification can be maintained by pursuing higher education or by taking periodical continuing education courses. Each state has different regulations, so be sure to do your research.