Today, Wednesday October 5th, we celebrate World Teacher Day! You probably have at least one special teacher in mind who had a significant impact on you. But what if you could be that teacher for a new generation of students? Teaching has a direct, personal impact on (almost) every single person in our country. Many students say that certain teachers saved their lives. In turn, teachers often say that their job gives them purpose.
If you're interested in pursuing this challenging but rewarding career path, you should! You can't become a teacher overnight, but you can take the process one step at a time.
- Get your bachelor's
Private educational institutions maintain their own hiring requirements, but public schools require a four year degree from an accredited college or university. In general, preschool through elementary school education focuses on multiple subjects and child development. If you want to teach that age, major in early childhood education. If you already have a degree in a different subject, don't panic. Some schools will accept teachers who majored in something else. (Even so, it would be wise to investigate the schools in your area.) If you want to teach middle through high school, it helps to have a college major (and/or minor) in the field (or fields) you want to teach. Most bachelor's programs are a four-year commitment. Thanks to modern technology, you can find online programs as well.
- Student teaching
If you major in education, you'll have easier access to experienced mentors who can connect you with student teaching opportunities (a certification requirement, along with exams and background checks). But you can also navigate this process on your own. If you're graduating with a degree in math, for example, but you'd like to gain your teaching certification, talk to your advisor. Your advisor can explain how to start your student teaching process and complete the requirements necessary to become licensed or certified in your state at the grade level you desire.
Let's break away for a quick note on credentials. Public school teachers at all grade levels need a teaching credential, but not all private schools require a state teaching credential. In addition, only some states accept credentials from other states. Some states do not accept out of state credentials.
- Graduate school
Most states require (or encourage) teachers to continue gaining graduate credits as they work. These credits can be obtained through continuing education courses offered by local universities in-person or online. Some can be obtained through staff development training programs and seminars (which may be provided by school districts). These teacher training programs focus on the age, development, and grade level you want to teach. Better yet, you don't need a bachelor's (or even a minor) in education to be accepted by such a program. Some big school districts (such as Los Angeles Unified School District) run their own teaching training programs. So, you can be hired with a four-year degree (not in education) and you can take the teacher training classes while working full-time and getting paid. See? That's doable! Note that continuing education requirements (just like certification requirements) vary by grade level.
- Put this in your resume
Of course teachers need to be patient, energetic, and excellent communicators. But your skills section should also emphasize a few other key qualities you bring to the table. Include things like your technology-savvy talents (especially unique platforms or programming languages with which you're familiar), your special training (ESL, special needs, crisis management, etc), and any other practical or theoretical skills that you've gained during your education and years of experience. More specifically, list activities and sports you've practiced. If, for example, a high school needs a new soccer coach and a new math teacher, you're more likely to get called in to an interview if you could satisfy both. Don't forget to emphasize the training you've undergone most recently; the world of education evolves fast.
- What to say in your interview
Teaching interviews aren't much different than interviews for other types of jobs. You need to demonstrate confidence and charisma, and you'll need to be ready to answer tough questions and explain the details of your background. Expect questions about your communication skills. Your interviewer will want to know how you deal with challenges and complex problems. Also, your interviewer will want to know how you would handle specific situations in the classroom. To answer those questions, it might help to think about how a good teacher from your school years responded to a similar instance. As we mentioned earlier, it's a good idea to list activities you've done. Don't be surprised if your interviewer asks about extracurricular activities that you could help (such as sports coaching, club advising, music and art assistance).
Teaching is by no means an easy job, but if you have what it takes to stand up in front of a classroom and inspire the minds of the next generation, we're behind you! Visit MyPerfectResume and let our career management tools move you toward your goals.