Some children know from an early age exactly what they want to be when they grow up and set to achieve their dreams of teaching. For others it may come later on in life. A positive influence or inspiration may have prompted you to ask yourself “Should I be a teacher?” Whether you’ve known for a long time or just recently considered a career in teaching one thing you can be certain of is the many reasons to become one.
Where would we be without teachers in our lives? If you think back to the days when you were in school chances are there is at least one teacher you remember pretty well. This person may have had a positive impact in your life in some way or another. Maybe something they taught you or simply their personality made them most memorable. That is one of the many wonderful things that come with this career path. Educators can have the power to make a difference in the lives of the ones they teach.
Should I Be A Teacher? Why Become a Teacher?
Some may think an educator is a thankless job given the pressures they are sometimes faced with. Unless you have spent a day in a teacher’s shoes you might not even realize the amount of stress that may accompany this position. So why do people become teachers?
For many, a career in education comes from a passion for learning along with teaching others. It may also stem from a desire to work with children and inspiring young minds. Teachers are the unsung heroes that set out to prepare individuals for the future and being a part of that can be more rewarding than simply earning a paycheck. Whatever your driving force to pursue a path in education there are many benefits that come with this career choice.
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If you dread the idea of a job where you’re doing the same thing over and over again a teaching career is a step in the right direction. You may be covering the same subjects everyday but the content frequently changes as well as the lesson plans and activities you do with the students.You are also constantly learning with them which can further fuel your passion for learning new things. It can also be refreshing to meet and teach new students each year and get to know their personalities. You can modify or change up your teaching style to meet their needs and have more freedom when it comes to decorating your workspace. This variety can allow you more flexibility to be who you are and liven up your classroom in a positive way.
An educator can be a very rewarding job in the sense of fulfillment. The work of a teacher can make a great difference in a student’s life. You can see the results of your work as students make progress. You can have a major influence in a child’s life by showing them how to view things in a different perspective, encouraging their creativity and academic development. Knowing you are capable of creating a lasting impression on someone’s future can be one of the most fulfilling qualities a job can offer.
Educators are always needed no matter what the economic circumstances may be at the moment. In America the demand for teachers across various education levels is great and is projected to rise in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of job openings by 2024 is estimated at nearly 1.9 million for preschool, elementary, and secondary schools. The greatest demand in particular teaching careers is for those with expertise in math, science and bilingual education. Another reason for pursuing a career as an educator is the flexibility to work virtually anywhere. Once you become certified to teach you can easily find work in nearly any school in the U.S. You can even teach virtually working online from home.
There are many other things to look forward to with a job teaching such as working only 10 months out of the year. If you enjoy spending your summertime vacationing this is a great plus. Teachers can take advantage of their time off during the summer spending more quality time with their families and activities. Teachers also get time off during holiday breaks. For parents a career in education is a desirable position allowing more time with their own children during school breaks.
The downside to having this extended time off is no payment. Some areas may stretch teacher salaries over the span of 12 months so they still receive a paycheck during the summer break. For other areas that don’t participate in this payment arrangement many teachers seek additional opportunities for employment during the summer break. They may apply to work during summer school or seek out other methods of supplemental income with a temporary summer position.
What are the Requirements to Becoming a Teacher?
The path to becoming an educator comes with the right training and experience. There are certain requirements in place which vary by each state for becoming a teacher. The standards required for teaching in private schools may also vary from public schools and are sometimes much stricter.
The collective requirements to becoming a teacher begin with the following:
- Receive a Bachelor’s Degree
- Teaching experience
- Pass at least one competency exam
- Attain your teaching certificate
During your course of training to become a teacher you will complete student teaching, typically covered in the final semester of your degree program. This is where your teaching experience will be acquired. You will be in the classroom working with a mentor teacher completing various duties over time until you are responsible to take on all of the duties of a regular classroom teacher. For prospective elementary school teachers your student teaching may consist of training with two different grade levels. This is due to the significant difference in teaching first graders vs. fifth graders.
In most states you will be required to pass at least one competency exam, such as a general education test. For preschool and Kindergarten teachers your certification will typically include a wide range of subjects. You may also have to pass a more comprehensive subject-specific test depending on the grade-level you intend on teaching. For middle school and high school teachers a subject test in the specific area you want to teach in may be required. For multiple subjects you will have to attain certification for each subject of interest.
Additional certifications may also be required such as CPR training. For special education you will need to meet further qualifications to teach children with special needs. Special education teachers must take additional courses in teaching and meeting various needs for students with disabilities and learning impairments. Each state has requirements in certifications and tests teachers must take and pass in order to teach in special education.
If you choose to work in a private school or in a separate state from receiving your education you will need to find out what additional requirements may be necessary. Once you have completed the educational training and additional requirements set forth by your state you will need to apply for your teaching license through your state department of education to become certified to teach.
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How Long Does it Take to Become a Teacher?
The amount of time it takes to become a teacher will vary significantly depending on the grade level you want to teach in as well as your state’s requirements. The bare minimum is to first obtain your Bachelor’s Degree which takes 4 years. Most students seeking a career in education will choose to major in early childhood education, elementary education or secondary education.Your degree program will usually lay out everything you need to achieve your certification. Be sure to check with the guidelines and requirements for your state if any additional courses may be required.
In some cases it may take more than 4 years to complete your education and training. If you pursue a major apart from education, for instance, you will need to attain your teaching certificate separate from your degree. This course of action may be ideal if you’re not completely sure you want to become a teacher and choose to major in another area. Most colleges offer teaching certification programs that can be taken immediately after earning your Bachelor’s degree or later. These programs may also be offered online or as night courses you can take while you continue to work in your current field.
You will continue to undergo training throughout the course of your career in education. Teachers must maintain their certifications through their state by following the mandated requirements and continuing education. The field of education is always changing and it’s important that teachers are up-to-date on the advancements in their field. In some states there is a predisposed number of continuing education credits teachers are required to meet on a given schedule. Other states might require completion of your Master’s degree within a specified period of time from attaining your certification.
What Does it Take to be a Good Teacher?
Aside from the educational requirements there are additional skills and attributes that can help you determine if it’s the right career path for you. Personal qualities you should possess if you want to become an educator include patience as well as eagerness and willingness to learn new things. You must also enjoy or have a desire to work with children if you are seeking a career in early childhood or grade school setting.
You should be open to change, because it’s one thing you can count on when teaching. The curriculum changes from time to time and occasionally you have to change up your lesson plans and adapt strategies to meet those goals. Another personal trait teachers must possess is the ability to communicate well with others both orally and written. As an educator you have to communicate with students as well as parents and other staff personnel. Having strong communication skills provides an effective teaching strategy and supporting parents with their child’s education.
In addition to strong communication, a good teacher must also be a good listener. The ability to listen and read in on clues that aren’t said allow teachers the ability to identify critical areas. Effective listening skills and observation can help in assisting students to build confidence and success in their education by supporting their needs.
How Much Do Teachers Make A Year / Per Hour?
If you’re going to put forth the time and effort it takes to become a teacher, naturally you’re going to want to know how much you can expect to earn. Teacher salaries vary on a wide number of factors from your geographic location to your level of education and credentials. In addition to the area and school district you are teaching in, another big factor in determining wages is the grade level you are teaching. Generally, the higher the grade level you teach the greater the salary.
Here’s a look at the median annual wages for teachers in the U.S. (from May 2020) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
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A Day in the Life of a Teacher
What do teachers do on a typical day? This will vary by the grade level you are teaching as well as specialty. A typical day for most teachers starts early before their students even arrive at school and usually includes lesson planning and class preparation. For a teacher, the day doesn’t end after the final bell rings. After-school duties are usually involved such as grading assignments or meetings with other staff members, parents and school officials.
There is a great deal of planning that must take place before the teacher begins teaching her students. At the beginning of the academic year the teacher will usually prepare her classroom by setting up designated areas for organizing supplies, a filing system for graded papers and lessons and arranging desks or tables appropriately to encourage participation. Creating seating arrangements and visual devices around the classroom may not seem that important, but this process creates a learning space that is effective for teaching and inviting for students.
Teachers also must prepare lesson plans for their day-to-day teaching to follow the curriculum and fit their instruction time. The curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools are usually set by the state, school district, department, or by special mandate with charter schools. You may be wondering why teachers follow a curriculum, especially given the fact that many students learn differently from others. You may have your own style for teaching in mind in a way you’re comfortable with teaching and helping others learn. The curriculum lays out extensive learning goals as well as standards and also helps teachers assess the time they need to cover each topic. When creating lesson plans these goals are broken into smaller units to focus in on specific topics within a time-frame to meet those goals. There is some leeway with lesson planning where teachers can balance learning with fun and implement additional time for students that need a little extra help.
Lesson planning also requires strategizing. As an educator you want to meet the needs of your students and provide a learning environment that is effective. Simply standing in front of the classroom lecturing can be boring and lose the interest of your students. Teachers have to learn how to apply various strategies and tools that help maximize their teaching. These may be group activities that encourage discussion, activities that involve participation and visual aids that summarize the lesson. Providing informal assessments, assigning homework and tests allow teachers to measure the progress of their students and assess how well they’re learning the curriculum. Adjustments may have to be made to ensure goals are met.
In addition to creating lesson plans and following instruction time teachers may need to map out office hours outside of the typical instruction time. These may be before or after school hours to provide additional instruction to individual students and arrange meetings with parents or staff to discuss a student’s progress, behavior, or provide additional support. Educators also must attend mandatory meetings with other staff or school officials that cover important topics.
Perhaps you’re still considering ‘should I become a teacher’ but there are some aspects of the job that leave you unsure. After all, the amount of education and training required is a lengthy process that takes time and money. It may seem out of reach for some for a number of reasons. There are other careers in education aside from a traditional teacher that you might want to consider pursuing instead.
How to Become a Substitute Teacher
If you have been giving some thought to becoming a teacher but still unsure about it a good place to start is by becoming a substitute teacher. This is a great position to consider for a part-time job in education or you feel uncertain about committing the time it takes to complete the educational requirements. Being in the classroom with students during instruction can give you a realistic view of what a day in the life of a teacher looks like. A substitute teacher takes the place of the regular teacher when they can not make it to work. The requirements for becoming a sub vary by state and district, but generally require at least a high school diploma. Some states may require passing an exam or even becoming fully certified, although certification for subs is not as extensive as becoming a regular classroom teacher. You will also need to apply and become approved by the school board for the district you’re wanting to sub in.
The substitute teacher carries out various duties in the classroom typically given by the teacher they are taking place of. The lesson plans and instruction are usually prepared in advance by the regular teacher for the sub to distribute. A substitute teacher may be responsible for administering tests and providing instruction to students on their assignments and coursework.
There is a great shortage in substitute positions across various states. Pursuing a position as a sub should provide consistent work, although it generally comes at a much lower pay rate than fully certified and licensed teachers. The mean annual wage for a short-term substitute teacher was $36,090 per year or $17.35 per hour in 2020. This amount will vary significantly by state and district.
It is important for subs as well as teachers to know the disciplinary actions in place by the school in the event they encounter a problem with a student. Substitute teachers work with school principals and administrators to follow the standards set by the school as well as certain protocols. Each school has guidelines and safety protocols to follow for different circumstances and it’s imperative to know these before you begin teaching.
How to Become a Teaching Assistant?
The role of a teacher assistant is to provide support in the classroom or childcare center. Assistants generally work with a licensed teacher assisting with duties in the classroom as well as providing additional instruction to students. They commonly work in early childhood education assisting the needs of the lead teacher to help the class run smoothly. Teacher assistants may also be referred to as instructional aids, teacher’s aid, or paraprofessionals. They may work in various settings from childcare centers and elementary schools to religious organizations. In some cases a teacher’s aid may be assigned to work with individual students following the instruction of the lead teacher or special education director.
The requirements for a teacher assistant vary greatly from state to state as well as school district. In some areas you must have a high school diploma with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and complete a test with a passing score established by the state it is being taken. In some states, school districts may require a minimum 2-year degree in education or related subject of study such as early childhood education. An application for a teacher’s assistant license may also be required in some states. Teacher assistants at the entry level with some college training may expect to earn approximately $28,000 per year.
When you find yourself with the question ‘should I be a teacher’ there is no one who can answer that question for you but yourself. It’s true there are many pressures and challenges that may come with teaching but there are great rewards that come with the job as well. Much of what you learn will come with experience and you come to learn so much more with the job than just a curriculum. Ask a former teacher how they feel about teaching and more often than not they will tell you the pros certainly outweigh the cons.
Salaries in Education : Consider This —
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