February 18th, 2013
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Become a Teacher
The economy in the US may be flirting with another Recession, but it is also experiencing a serious shortage in teachers. Many school districts are facing emergency shortages in teaching staff, so much so that they are having to use people with temporary credentials, and people with less-than-ideal qualifications, such as having to teach outside their majors and minors, or even people with no major or minor at all. In some areas, the shortages are reaching the critical level. The US Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that in 2013, we will be short over half a million new teachers, just to keep pace. This is mostly due to increased enrollments, teacher retirements, and a high turnover rate. Needless to say, the opportunities to become a teacher in the near future are definitely there.
What Do Teachers Do?
Teaching is a very diverse field. Some specialize in Preschool Education, Special Education, and other very specialized fields, in addition to the standard fields of Primary, Secondary, High School, and even Higher Learning at colleges and universities. There are also trade schools that employ teachers for very specialized training, and many businesses have their own training schools. Science and Mathematics teachers are currently in especially great demand all across the country.
Teaching is a very demanding field requiring a lot of education, certifications, sometimes long hours, and high-stress situations. It also has many rewards, the main one being that teachers, more than any other calling, have the ability to shape future generations, for better or worse. Teachers have as much, or sometimes more, effect on how a person grows up than parents. Teachers actually shape minds and attitudes. It is an art that many cannot do successfully. It has been said that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.
In reality, the reverse is just as true,those that can teach, teach, and those that can’t, do……Teaching is one of the most honorable and selfless professions there is. There are those that will argue that the Medical profession is more honorable, but if you think about it….teachers create doctors, and sometime teachers save lives, and more importantly, minds, as well.
Teaching involves conveying understanding of ideas and disciplines, sometimes to unwilling students. They must also maintain discipline within their teaching environment, act as a counselor, sometimes a confidant, social worker, and be alert to danger signs of drug/alcohol use, and mental/physical abuse. They must also perform mundane administrative activities such as grading papers, scheduling, developing lesson plans, and other required duties.
What Kind Of Training Is Involved?
Ideally, preparation for a career in Education should start while you yourself are still a student. You should try to make the best grades possible so that you can get into the best teaching schools. True, there are now some alternate methods for getting into the teaching field that circumvent many of the more traditional requirements ((Stoddart & Floden, 1995), but this is not desirable if you plan to pursue a career in teaching. Many of these ‘fast-track’ teachers are barely out of high school themselves, and this is mainly an emergency measure to address the teacher shortage problem. Your chances of advancement are nil.
The most basic education plans involve obtaining a Bachelors Degree in a suitable academic subject, then getting post graduate training in teaching, preferably a Masters Degree. Alternatively, you can get a combination Bachelors Degree, with emphasis on teaching that subject. In the Academic world, the more education you have, the higher you can go. You will also have to undergo Continuing Education throughout your career. The next step is to obtain State Certification. This varies by state, and the respective Board of Education determines the process. It will usually require passing a Federal, or State-Level standardized examination, an extensive background investigation, fingerprints, and a lot of other hoops to jump through.
Certifications are granted on multi-tiered systems, such as Phase I, Professional, Provisional, etc…The certification is only good for that state. If you move to a new state, you will have to go through the process again. Your Certification can be pulled at any time, for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with teaching.
What Kinds Of Teaching Opportunities Are Available?
At the present time, if you get Certified, the sky’s the limit. Chances are, anywhere you go, there will be a need for teachers. Bi-Lingual teachers, especially English-Spanish, are in especially great demand. Within reason, you can pretty much write your own ticket. On the down-side, teachers in the US earn a average of 67% of what other college level jobs pay. That may be why there is a teacher shortage. That is not much of an incentive to encourage our best and brightest to become educators. The rate does jump up as your level of education and expertise increases. A college Professor or PHD earns about 85% of what other college-level jobs pay. You can also progress to the Administrative-Level jobs in the Education Field, which pay much, much better.
There is a lot to consider before deciding on a career in teaching. It is mostly up to what you want to do with your life, ie: make money now, or have a profound effect on shaping the future world.