Advice for Future Teachers of America

Are you considering becoming one of America’s next teachers? You probably have lots of questions. Here are some of the most common ones, along with their answers! Here’s what you need to know before enrolling in college to become a teacher.

1. I need a college degree to be a teacher, but what do I major in?

The answer to this question varies by state. In many cases, you major in elementary education to teach kindergarten through 6th grade. To teach in middle school, 6th grade through 8th grade, you major in middle grades education with a concentration in a specific subject. To teach in high school, you major in the subject, such as math or Spanish, and complete a teacher education program or minor.

2. Who do I ask for the “right” information about my major or any other question?

Consult the college or university’s website. Visit the pages for the school (or college) of education. These pages should detail the majors offered. Inquire with your teachers about their colleges and majors. Speak with your guidance counselor, then visit your chosen college to talk with admissions counselors. Attend an open house on campus; you might also have the opportunity to attend an education class while there.

3. I need to work while in college. Is that possible while studying to be a teacher?

Yes, it is possible. However, be aware that education classes don’t just meet on campus and often require more hours than other classes. Your education classes will include field experiences, which means spending significant time in schools. During the student teaching semester, working is usually not feasible, as student teachers keep regular teacher hours. So, plan ahead and explore opportunities, such asĀ studying abroad as a futureĀ teacher.

4. Is it harder to become a teacher after starting at a community college?

Not necessarily. Ensure you have an advisor at the community college aware of your goal to transfer to a 4-year institution for teaching. Verify that your general classes are transferable. Consult the catalogs of both your community college and the four-year college to confirm credit transfer. Starting at a community college is a common path for many future teachers and can significantly save on costs.

5. What do “general education” requirements mean for aspiring teachers?

All colleges and universities require general education courses. These include basic subjects like math, science, writing, speech, social studies, and the humanities. They aim to provide a well-rounded education. Generally, these courses occupy much of the first two years of college. However, the number of required courses varies by institution. Schools with fewer “gen ed” requirements might allow more time for your major or even completing a minor in another field of interest. It’s important to read the catalogs carefully to understand each school’s requirements.

6. Does attending college out of state affect job prospects in my home state?

No, attending college out of state should not negatively impact your job prospects in your home state. However, graduating with a teacher education major or minor does not automatically make you a licensed teacher. After completing your program out of state, you’ll need to apply for teaching licensure/certification in that state. Once certified there, you can apply for certification in another state, including your home state. Keep in mind, certification requirements vary by state. It’s advisable to research online for specific state rules (search for “teacher certification” and the state’s name).

7. What are education courses like? What will I study?

Education programs typically start with an introductory class and a course in educational psychology. Following these, you study curriculum and methods. Classes in special education and classroom management are also part of the curriculum. Essentially, you’ll learn about the teaching profession, understanding student psychology, what and how to teach, and how to engage all students effectively.

Your coursework integrates field experiences and student teaching, tying together everything you learn. General education courses and your major provide the necessary content knowledge. For example, knowing algebra is crucial if you plan to teach it.

8. As a freshman, will I take education courses?

This varies widely from college to college. Some first-year students take an introduction to education class and may even observe in schools. If you’ve already completed the equivalent of the intro class, this requirement may be waived. Once accepted at a college, attend pre-registration and advisement days to plan your schedule in advance.

9. Once I am in college, how much do my grades matter?

A lot. Your grades are crucial for entering and staying in the teacher education program. Most programs require a specific GPA to enroll in junior- and senior-level education courses. Your grades also affect your eligibility for scholarships. As you near graduation, potential employers consider your grades when evaluating you for a job. So, yes, grades are very important.

10. Will the college help me to get a job?

Yes. Colleges and universities provide career centers that offer workshops on resume writing, job searching, and interviewing. Many also host teacher job fairs, where school districts recruit new hires. Make sure to take advantage of these services.

Bonus Question: How hard are education courses?

Education courses are demanding and involve many hours in schools. This is because teaching is challenging, and today’s teachers must be well-informed. It’s preferable to face tough courses and be fully prepared for your first teaching job rather than have an easy path and graduate unprepared.

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