by Rachel Vilsack
I spent a day last week presenting career information to high school students. From what I observed, a lot has changed since I was in high school. (I won’t tell you exactly when that was; we had computers but not cell phones!) One thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication of teachers to their students.
Everyone has had an important teacher at some time in their life. If you’re thinking about a career in teaching or education, chances are you may have had a teacher that impacted your life in some way. Since we’ve all interacted with teachers, we may think we know exactly what the job entails—but there are some aspects of the profession you may not be aware of.
Teachers, of course, take care of the daily tasks involved in running a classroom and also develop lesson plans to teach subjects according to the school or district curriculum. They assign homework so that students can apply the lessons from class. They grade the homework and give tests to check students’progress. Teachers also provide advice to students with behavioral or academic problems. They may meet with students, parents, and administrators to try and resolve these problems.
Teachers often supervise activities such as student clubs and organizations. This may involve meeting with students after school or during lunch breaks. Teachers may also have general supervision duties for school dances, sports events, or other school activities.
Don’t forget that teachers also communicate and work with their peers. Teachers participate in faculty meetings where they discuss school and class issues with school administrators. They may also participate in local or national conferences where teachers share ideas and successful teaching methods.
What Education and Skills Do I Need to Be a Teacher?
Most teachers have a four-year Bachelor’s degree, and they are required to have a license to teach in public schools. (The Minnesota Department of Education has information on how K-12 teachers can obtain a license.) Beyond their formal education, good teachers have the following skills:
- Instructing – teaching others how to do something
- Learning strategies – selecting and using training or instruction methods and procedures appropriate for the situation
- Speaking – talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active listening – giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical thinking – using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Social perceptiveness – being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Considering a career as a teacher? The U.S. Department of Education identifies subjects where Minnesota has a teacher shortage. New teachers in these fields may benefit from loan deferment or other financial incentives; you can find a list of Minnesota’s 2011-2012 shortage areas online.
To learn more about teaching professions and the Minnesota schools that provide related training, check out these career profiles pages on ISEEK:
- Preschool and kindergarten teachers
- Elementary school teachers
- Middle school teachers
- High school teachers
- Special education teachers
- Adult and vocational educational teachers