If you’re pursuing a teaching career, preparation is imperative. The field of education is competitive, and now that you are working toward a career in education there are certain opportunities, skills and lessons you should experience before looking for your career. International students should take advantage of this college checklist before graduation, and should continue to develop themselves throughout their search and career.
Make sure it’s really what you want to do
You spent four years studying education, student teaching and creating lesson plans. You land a job after graduation teaching in a local public elementary school. It all happened so fast that you can hardly believe it. But then it hits you, this brilliant epiphany that makes you slowly sit in your fancy teaching chair and put your head in your hands. You hate teaching. What now? What can you do to make sure that you want to be a teacher? There are two very important check-marks to make on the college checklist that will help you know whether or not you want to teach as well as prepare you for a teaching career.
- Take student teaching seriously and try to choose a program that allows you to student teach as early in your college career as possible. In some cases, students don’t student teach until their senior year. If the program you choose has you wait until later in your college years, there are other opportunities you can be involved in as early as your freshman year that will allow you to volunteer and work with students.
- Volunteer and work with children as much as you can. Summer programs, local churches and youth groups, Big Brother/Big Sister programs and other programs will not only look good on your resume but will also help you decide whether or not you will thrive in an education career and what age group you work best with. Reading books cannot tell you whether or not an education degree is right for you, it often takes actually working with children before you know if it’s the right career path for you. When volunteering, you will not only gain insight, but also valuable experience and networking connections.
Work with the age group you think you want to teach
Volunteer with the age group you want to teach, and also keep an open mind working with other age groups as well. Many times, teachers who thought they wanted to teach high school students discovered after volunteering, working and interning with other age groups that they enjoyed teaching a different age group more. You don’t want to be stuck in a job that becomes stressful because you can’t appropriately teach or handle the age group you are working with- you want your job to be rewarding.
Organize and pre-plan
When preparing for a teaching career it’s important to learn organization skills and how to plan quickly and effectively. As a teacher you will be creating lesson plans and keeping assignments and tests organized. Learning how to multi-task and improvise will also be of aide in your future career as a teacher. When student teaching, listen to your mentor and the other staff and teachers and take notes. They may be of help later on. Learn what works and what doesn’t work for a variety of students and don’t become discouraged if the first lessons don’t work. Many successful teachers admit that in the beginning of their teaching career there were many rough patches, but that they grew and learned from their mistakes. Learning this in college can put you ahead of the game.
Preparing as much as possible for a teaching career will be beneficial in the long-run and will make the money you spent on your education degree worth it as you work in a gratifying field. The college checklist for education careers goes much farther than this, but these will give you a start. As you move forward, continue to add more to your checklist by listening to current and former educators, professors, mentors and students.