To become a certified teacher requires study in many subjects and passing certification tests in your chosen field.
To be a teacher includes studies in child development, psychology, and subject content at a four-year accredited college. You will need to achieve the minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree. In addition to completing a degree, most states have certification tests that must be taken successfully in order for you to obtain a license from the state in which you plan to teach.
Once you decide that you want to teach, the first step is to contact your state board and inquire about their licensing procedure. You will need to know not only the required curriculum, but also any additional certification or required tests.
Next, you will need to decide which age group you prefer. At this point, you may want to check with your state as to the divisions between grade levels. You may want to achieve dual certification, such as both middle grades and high school or pre-k to third and middle grades. Depending on your choice, your studies will be different. Younger students frequently have the same teacher for every almost every academic subject, and older students usually have teachers who specialize in one or two subjects. If you decide on teaching younger students you will need to take a broader variety of subjects. Teaching older students usually require that you specialize in a particular subject.
After you have decided on a particular age group, you need to determine which subject you want to teach. All subjects are important. Although there appears to be a high demand for teachers who specialize in science and math, if you are not comfortable or interested in these subjects it would not be in your best interest to pursue them. If you are not sure which subject you prefer, try to narrow it down to two. You can have a major and a minor and the requirements are usually close enough that it will not cause a delay in graduation if you decide to change.
As you complete your studies, you will also want to begin studying for any certification tests. Most tests have study guides available on request. These tests can include a variety of subjects, including child development, psychology, critical thinking, and subject content. If your state has an available test preparation guide, you should obtain one as early as possible. Take a practice test and discover any weaknesses and problem areas. Avoid the trap of confining your study to a guide. These types of materials only provide samples of questions that you may see on an actual test, they do not give the actual questions.
In many cases, education majors are required to spend time in actual classrooms to do observations. If you have the opportunity to observe in a classroom, try to discover as much as possible. Ask to see the supervising teacher’s lesson plan. You want to observe the teacher and the students. Pay special attention to classroom management. You will probably also be required to complete a minimum of one semester of student teaching. You will want to be at your best in either instance. Many teachers have been hired because they made a good impression on their supervising principal.
The need for certified teachers is currently high and a fully certified teacher has a good chance of obtaining employment. Obtaining a license to teach takes a lot of work but seeing the light in a child’s eyes the first time they comprehend a new concept will make it well worth the challenge.