Undoubtedly, pursuing a career in teaching is fulfilling, to say the least. You will be able to shape young minds and help them on their path to greater knowledge, and their own careers and fulfillment in due time. However, there is a lot more involved than just entering the classroom and trying to communicate your expertise to your students. Teaching is understanding, patience, good communication, adequate approach and skillful managing of students and their desires and abilities. You will teach a lot, but you will also learn a great deal along the way. It’s not only providing correct answers that counts; it’s more about the guidance you give your students, regardless of their age or affinities. In order to help you juggle all of these aspects of the teaching profession, here are some useful tips to help you on your way to success.
1. Define your area of interest
There are many areas of teaching available, and not all of them are right for you. Maybe at the beginning, it might seem difficult to know exactly which one you should focus on, but a little strategic research will be of great help. Consider the age group you would like to teach, as well as the subject and level of teaching. There is no scale of importance here. It all boils down to personal preference, weighing out the pros and cons and in which schools you see yourself teaching. You will find an abundance of information online by reading blog posts, articles, forums and comments of people already in the business; but you can also try to find people who can help you in person. Either way, it will make things much clearer when it comes to taking your first steps in the field.
2. Get the right certifications
When you decide who and where you want to teach, there are specific certification requirements related to a particular teaching location you need to address. Before you actually enter the classroom, there are tests to be passed and requirements to be met in order for you kick start your career. You will be able to find all the necessary details at your local department of education sites, which is the first step towards acquiring the right papers. Even if you have opted for becoming a teacher’s aide, you might want to take a look at what’s needed to become a valued part of the education system. Learn the required skills necessary for effective communication with children, how to develop their literacy and numeracy, how to manage possible behavioral issues and special learning needs.
3. Get some classroom experience
Teaching experience is very often a requirement. This might seem like a vicious cycle at first – how can you get classroom experience if you’re not licensed yet, and how can you get a license without any teaching experience? Some bachelor programs already have supervised teaching hours included in their courses; if that’s not the case, you can always acquire some experience after you graduate. Try contacting local schools and find out whether you can volunteer as a classroom teaching assistant, or spend some time shadowing a teacher. If you choose the latter option, it would be beneficial if you visited different classrooms and grade levels so you can better understand how different teachers manage different age groups. If you feel confident enough and if circumstances allow it, you might even substitute a teacher to really get the gist of the profession.
4. Master’s programs
Before embarking on a teaching job search, do everything in your power to increase your chances of employment. Apart from getting licenses and certifications, a master’s degree will definitely improve your chances as well as expand your pedagogical knowledge. If you do not have a teaching certificate yet, there are master’s programs that will provide them along with your degree.
5. Finding a job
Not all job posts are listed in the official ads. There are organizations that specifically help graduates find suitable teaching positions. This way you can do practical work in under-served areas, or even decrease the amount of your student loan by tutoring high-needs students. You can always hand-deliver your resume to the schools you’re interested in, ensuring a very personal approach and creating an opportunity for a first impression that might get you the job. Local want ads and employment websites will be of great help, but take a look at official school websites as well. You might find an opening listed or contact their human resources department. Needless to say, your resume and professional portfolio should be up to date and error-free.
Teaching provides great satisfaction, and once you see the success reflected in your students’ achievements and knowledge, you’ll be completely hooked. It is a challenging but rewarding profession. You’ll learn a lot while getting your degrees, but you’ll learn so much more from your students on their academic journey to success.