If knowledge is power, then the teachers who give that knowledge to their
students will have a powerful influence over future generations. If you enjoy
helping others learn, an education degree could be for you.
Teachers of kindergarten and above must hold at least a bachelor's degree
as well as certifications from their state. They may also need extra training
to teach a specific subject, such as music.
The best bet for an aspiring teacher is to find a program with lots of
hands-on training and internship opportunities. These will provide experience
with the stress and the demands of teaching today, as well as provide a solid
liberal education in many subject areas.
Specializing in a subject area may be wise, if that specialty is in demand
when you graduate.
Many educators believe a double major is best. In fact, some places
require it. For example, to teach in Virginia, you need to major in both education
and another field of study, such as English or math.
Each state has its own standards for licensing teachers. Think about
where you want to live and teach.
You may also want to seek programs that are accredited by the National
Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC)
or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Accreditation
ensures that a program meets certain standards set by the profession.
The best preparation for high school students who want to learn to teach
is a general college preparatory curriculum, says Mary Anne Lecos, a former
education professor at George Mason University in Virginia.
Charlene Hillal Gill is an associate education professor at Hood College
in Frederick, Maryland. Gill adds that advanced English, math, sciences,
history, geography, economics and government classes are helpful. Computer
literacy is essential.
"They might also want to take courses that would help them understand family
structures and how they influence child development; perhaps a course in sociology
that studies the family," adds Gary Galluzzo, dean of graduate education at
George Mason University.
Extracurricular activities should test a prospective teacher's ease with
children and teens. "Participate in pre-teaching activities such as the Future
Educators of America or the Teacher Cadet Program, which involve tutoring
and other school-based activities," suggests Lecos. "Volunteer or work
with children and youth in schools, recreation programs, Sunday school,
camps or child-care programs."
Some courses, such as art, may require extra materials or equipment in
addition to textbooks.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this career, see: Education,
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