General Facts on Becoming a Teacher

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Becoming a teacher is a rewarding career choice for anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children. Teachers are well-educated, hard-working individuals who make it their mission to educate students and change their lives. While requirements for becoming a teacher vary by state, being a teacher requires constant learning and a willingness to put in a lot of extra time on the job.

Education

  • The majority of teachers have at least a bachelor's degree in education at the level they wish to teach in. Those who teach at the middle and high school levels are required to choose areas of focus and take coursework in those subject areas. For this purpose, many colleges have developed programs for middle and high school teachers where they earn a bachelor's degree in their subject area and then get a master's of education.

    Teachers are continuous learners and must keep up with new developments, research and trends in education. Many states have requirements on how many hours of classes or professional development teachers need to go through in order to keep their certification.

Certification

  • Certification requirements for becoming a teacher vary by state and by level, but they follow similar guidelines. Along with their education degree, teachers are required to take either the state's mandated exam(s) for certification or a series of Praxis exams and receive a passing score. Many states that have their own certification exams will accept certain Praxis exam scores in lieu of taking the state exam.

    Potential teachers must also pass state and federal background checks to be certified to teach.

Salary and Benefits

  • Teaching is not a high-paying career, but it does have a lot of benefits to make up for the lack of pay. First-year teachers make between $24,000 and $39,000 depending on the state and school district, according to Teacher Portal. Teachers who coach sports or are after-school club advisers usually are given stipends up to $5,000. Most districts offer health insurance policies at reasonable rates and provide teachers with a small life insurance policy. Individual states offer competitive retirement plans for teachers. Also, for most teachers, there is the added benefit of holidays and summers off.

Role of a Teacher

  • Teacher roles vary by position and grade level, but at any level, teachers are responsible for more than teaching in the classroom. Many schools assign teachers to duty at least once a month where they are responsible for monitoring the cafeteria, the school entrance, crosswalks or loading students on buses. Teachers are also responsible for supervising students between class changes, on field trips and during school assemblies.

    A teacher's workday is full of teaching classes, contacting parents and attending meetings. While most teachers are given time for planning during the school day, the majority of their lesson planning and grading takes place at home after the school day is over.

Skills and Characteristics

  • A teacher is more than someone who has a lot of book knowledge. In fact, many teachers would say that the subject matter they teach is only a small part of the actual knowledge they need to be successful.

    As a teacher, you must possess strong communication skills to be able to convey knowledge to students and also to talk with parents when they have concerns.

    You must also be able to use technology. Teachers need to know how to use computers, audio-visual equipment and other electronic devices.

    Teachers must also be flexible. There are numerous interruptions that are likely to happen every school day, whether it's a piece of technology not working, an unscheduled assembly or visitor or even misbehaving students, and teachers need to be able to work around those interruptions. Teachers also need to be organized so that they are not constantly losing student work or important information.

    The most important trait for a teacher is to be a role model. When they are in the school, teachers need to model good behavior for their students when they are in school and when they encounter students outside of school.

References

  • Photo Credit apple for teacher image by max blain from Fotolia.com
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