Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How do I decide if I want to be a teacher?

Ms Dorothy,
I am a junior in college and thinking of switching my major to education. I love the thought of teaching, but I'm nervous that once I set foot in an actual classroom, the experience will be very different from my ideas and expectations. How can I find out if teaching really is for me, and if it is, how do I figure out which grade I'm best suited for?
- College Student

Deciding to major in Education and becoming a classroom teacher do not have to be one in the same. You can major in Education and teach on-line, or tutor in more one-on-one settings; or use your degree in Education to do consulting or coaching outside the classroom.

At the same time, there are also many ways that you can teach without having to change your major. There are alternative licensing programs that can get you state certification to be a classroom teacher. There are private schools and church schools and preschools that do not require teachers to be state certified in order to teach. There are also some training centers and teacher in residency programs where you work as an assistant teacher and earn credentials.

You can probably take an elective in Education to see if the major would be of interest to you. If you can take one that has requirements for fieldwork or observations, it would give you a chance to visit schools and see if you feel at home in the classroom.The more opportunities you can grab to visit classrooms in different districts and at different grade levels, the better you will know what is the right fit for you.

Interview teachers with differing amounts of experience, in different communities, and at different kinds of schools, as if it were an assignment for a class. Ask why they are teachers, what they love and hate about the job, what they would advise a new teacher to be aware of, what they think makes them one of the good teachers.

Go volunteer at a local school-- nothing will give you a better sense of what teachers really do than spending a few days helping one!

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