Future Teachers

Becoming a Teacher
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     So you want to become a teacher.  People want to become teachers for many reasons.  They enjoy sharing their knowledge with others, like working with children or adults, and just enjoy being in that familiar setting where you spent 12 or 13 years.  Everybody chooses the teaching profession for different reasons.

     Teachers tell me they always knew that they wanted to teach.  Some even played "teacher" when they were children.  Some children became teachers because one or both of their parents were teachers.
     Should I become an elementary teacher, middle school or high school teacher?  Should I get a special education certification? What subjects do I want to teach?

     What courses do I take in college?  What if I decide to change majors in college? Is a university better than a college?  Is a degree in education from Harvard better than one from the University of Pittsburgh?

It seems like there are more questions than answers, but there are all kinds of people around you to help. Here are some possible sources of guidance:  parents/guardians, friends, guidance counselors, college admissions personnel, college advisors, and--websites, and many other sources.  Many will offer their opinions and advice, but you need to make the final decision. 

      After some planning with your guidance counselor and parents/guardians, you are ready to proceed.  You need to decide if you want to go to a large college/university or do you prefer a small college atmosphere?  Do you want to attend a state school or a more expensive private school?  Do you want to go out of state or take advantage of in-state tuition rates?
How will you finance your education:  savings, grants, scholarships, loans?  Financing your college education is a family decision because it affects the whole family.

     You apply to colleges and look for financing.  After finding a suitable college/university with an education program, you will need to discuss whether you will commute or stay on or near campus.  After many tears from that discussion, you are ready for the next step.

     The next big decision, after choosing/enrolling in a college and selecting living arrangements, is the grade level selection.  Do you want to be an elementary or secondary teacher?  You will be taking some courses where you will get to observe students in several different grade levels.  Almost every college education program, that I know, requires observations at a few schools, even with the beginning courses, e.g., Intro to Education, and Foundations of Education.  If you have to make a choice up front, pick the one where you feel most comfortable.

     Trouble deciding--try this:  Get three sheets of paper.  Fold them in half side to side.  Write down the pros on one side and cons on the other side for all three areas (elementary-middle-high school).  Then compare the three sheets of paper.  You can always change areas of study.  Everyone takes some of the same courses in the beginning.  You will be taking some general courses the first two years, e.g., English, Algebra, Introduction to Psychology, and other required core courses and electives.  You may have a choice of selecting an actual education course (Introduction to Education).  [Refer to your school catalog]

     The good news is that almost any mistakes can be undone or rectified.  What you thought was a mistake can become a good thing, e.g., that special ed class that you took by mistake changed your mind about teaching special students. 

     Sometimes an extraordinary prof or teacher that you admire might influence you to explore new subject areas.  Your original plan may have been to become a history teacher, but an art class that you take may enhance your creativity and interest in this area.  Your new plan may be to become an art teacher.  It's okay to switch, just don't do it every day!
Summary:  go to college, take the required courses and maintain the required GPA, student teach, pass the Praxis tests for your area, get certified, obtain any required clearances (e.g., fingerprints, child abuse, criminal), get hired--then you get to teach!  The rewards of teaching will be worth all of your efforts and frustrations along the way.  After teaching for several years, you might want to work on your principal's certification!

     Good luck in your desire to be an educator; the harder you work, the luckier you'll get!
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Many choices means  many decisions!



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