Undeclared: Exploring Careers in Education

Undeclared: Exploring Careers in Education

For those modern college students who aren’t exactly certain of what career they want to choose, having an undeclared major isn’t such a bad thing. After all, how many 18 and 19-year-olds are sure when it comes to making a decision this big.

The beauty of being undeclared is having time to think about your career options, exploring in your mind all the possibilities ― there are certainly many ― and then choosing one that best suits you. However, what you may discover is that the answer to that looming career question has been under your nose all along.

While getting your education, maybe you should consider helping others get theirs as a career path. What you may find out once you begin to explore this career option, is that there are a number of ways to use an education degree, including teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at home or EFL (English as a Foreign Language) abroad.

Your Path to a Teaching Career

Learnhowtobecome.org has a tremendous amount of information on salaries for teachers, job growth, and job outlook. It’s location specific, but they have a U.S. map to help with that, along with steps to becoming a teacher.

Their focus is on teaching K-12, which is where most teachers likely get their start, but this in no way should limit you. There are obviously opportunities at the collegiate level and always a need for good special education teachers.

There are three basic steps to becoming a K-12 teacher, as outlined by Learnhowtobecome.org.

  1. Get your bachelors degree. Most states and public schools require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have a bachelor’s of education, while high school teaching jobs require more subject area expertise, as in a degree in the subject you’ll be teaching.
  1. Get experience through student teaching. Experience is essential to perform your job well, but it’s also required to get licensed. You can get this experience while you’re working on your degree, through an internship, or after graduation.
  1. Get licensed in your state. The type of certification you’ll need will depend on the grade you intend to teach, as well as the state in which you intend to teach in.

According to Learnhowtobecome.org, for prospective teachers who don’t have a bachelors degree in education but still want to teach kindergarten or elementary school, most states have programs that allow for alternative routes into teaching positions.

It’s also worth mentioning that Learnhowtobecome.org mentions that private schools are not bound by the same laws as public schools. Though many will still require their teachers to hold a teaching certificate.

There are a number of opportunities for those teachers who continue their education and get a masters or doctorate degree. Higher pay, career flexibility, and advancement in administration positions are all viable options.

Using Technology in the Classroom

Any teacher will tell you that when your students are interested and engaged, it makes your job and life so much easier. Thanks to the modern age, you can now benefit from using technology in the classroom. If you already have a natural love of all thing tech, you might even want to explore an MEd in Educational Technology Leadership.

Concordia has eight strategies for using technology in the classroom.

  1. Set up your classroom properly. Depending on what tech you’re using, rows may not work best. Position desks so that kids can easily view screens and other teaching mediums.
  1. Teach responsible use of technology. Using technology safely, effectively, and respectfully are skills that will often need to be taught.
  1. Begin with mini-lessons. Using technology means students may become distracted. Teach firstly through demonstration and be clear what you expect from them once they get their hands on the tech in question.
  1. Provide ownership to students. Give them choices when it comes to their learning. Their skills will advance faster through practice, creativity, and discovery rather than stricter forms of learning.
  1. Sharing is caring. Allow students to share what they’ve discovered with their peers, and point out students who are utlitizing choices to advance their own sense of discovery and creation. It may inspire the other students.
  1. Use teacher check-ins. Using technology in the classroom means that students will be learning on their own and at their own pace often times. Check-in with each to make sure they don’t have any questions or to provide feedback.
  1. Use technology breaks. You don’t have to give them a cookie and a nap, but taking away technological aids in favor of more traditional learning should definitely be mixed in. Engaging with other classmates is still an important part of learning.
  1. Software is your friend. There are a lot of options to integrate classroom management software tools, such as Class Dojo and Class Craft. Classroom management is also a skill that new teachers don’t always have in abundance and speaking of which.

Understanding Classroom Management

Classroom management has always been a challenge for new teachers, but in our technological age, as attention spans are shrinking and there are so many competing devices that prey on that attention, it’s more difficult than ever.

Bostitch has a few tips that may help teachers gain control over their classrooms.

  • Set ground rules. Let students know what you expect from them and what will happen if they deviate from that. You may have to limit their access to electronic devices and take them away occasionally as a form of punishment.
  • How you introduce new topics matters. If you introduce topics and activities with excitement and interest, your students will likely find that contagious and approach it the same way.
  • Limit distractions. If you’re expecting your students to listen, hold off on passing out those activity sheets or technological devices. You don’t want to have to compete for their attention while giving them instructions.
  • Personal relationships matter. Get to know each student individually and let them know you care and are available to talk when they’re having problems. When students like, respect, and know you, you’ll likely get their best effort and behavior.

There’s no such thing as a bad student, even when teaching a difficult subject like math. It’s all in the approach, as different students learn differently and react differently to instruction and authority. Approach each student as an individual and remember each is unique and you’ll reach them eventually.

If you’re considering a career in education, find out everything you can going into it. It’s an important career choice that deserves serious contemplation before jumping in. The world needs great teachers, maybe more so than any other profession.

Frankie Wallace
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