Preparing to Become a Teacher
Once you have decided to become a teacher, there are several things you should know to help you better prepare yourself.
Do What You Love
One of the most important things to determine when becoming a teacher is deciding what age group and what subjects you want to teach. If you would like to teach a wide variety of subjects, the elementary school grade level is probably a good choice. If you prefer to specialize in one particular subject, such as biology, algebra, or a foreign language, the middle or high school level would be more suitable. When making this decision, keep in mind the basic demand for particular types of teachers in your area. Some subjects and/or grade levels may have a significant need for new teachers, while other segments may be flooded with current teachers and new applications.
Going the Distance
If you are newly out of school, or just finishing up your degree, you might want to consider getting a bit of experience prior to applying for a teaching position. Choose the age group of students you would like to teach, and get a summer job or a part-time job teaching lessons (such as tennis, swimming, or a musical instrument), coach a youth sports team, or become a camp counselor. Another option to consider is becoming a teaching assistant, teacher's aide, or substitute teacher. These types of jobs give you real world work experience, which will help give you a good deal of preparation for teaching on your own.
Become Part of the Community
There are several other things you should keep in mind to help prepare for life as a teacher. Teachers are not only responsible for educating children inside the classroom; they are also responsible for their actions outside of school. Of course the primary job of a teacher is to design lesson plans, engage students in the learning process, understand different teaching practices, provide a healthy and safe learning environment, and evaluate student progress. That being said, teachers are often quite involved in the community to further learning experiences, as well as interacting directly with parents and members of education boards. Teachers often work on teams to plan curriculum, address education concerns, and come up with solutions to improve student learning.
While teachers are always available during the school day, you must also be prepared to be available both before and after school. Typically teachers arrive before school hours to prepare lessons, grade papers, and offer office hours to provide extra help for students. At the end of the school day, teachers remain at the school to offer even more office hours, plan the for the next day, meet with parents, meet with other staff members, and catch up on paperwork. Many teachers also volunteer their time during off hours to coach a team, lead extra curricular activities, or supervise a club.
Finally, consider joining a professional teachers association, or an organization within your specific teaching specialty. Just as you encourage your students to never stop learning, your education and training should also continue. Teachers who stay up to date on the latest technologies, teaching strategies, and real world requirements give their students the best possible foundation to succeed in school and in life.
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