ERIC Identifier: ED344872
Publication Date: 1992-05-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education
So You Want To Be a Teacher. ERIC Digest.
Increased public interest in education is attracting students and
career-changers to teaching. A skillful teacher can inspire, motivate,
stimulate, and develop the minds of students. He or she must be well educated;
be able to work with a diversity of students, parents, and other teachers; and
be highly competent in presenting subject matter.
WHAT DO TEACHERS DO?
Along with teaching classes, teachers
at all levels must also prepare lesson plans, grade tests, hold conferences with
parents, coordinate with other service-providing professionals, and attend
school meetings. Some elementary teachers have specialty areas, such as music,
art, or physical education, and teach only that subject to different classes.
Generally, a secondary teacher is prepared to teach at least two specific
subjects. All teachers must be able to evaluate student performance.
Through school reform efforts, teachers are becoming more involved in
site-based management responsibilities. Experienced teachers may also mentor new
teachers and/or supervise preservice teachers.
WHAT ARE WORKING CONDITIONS LIKE?
Most states require
schools to be in session for a minimum number of days, usually in a 10-month
schedule with a 2-month vacation. Proposals for extending the school year to 12
months are now being considered. Salary levels generally have risen and most
states have laws that grant teachers tenure (job protection) after 3 years of
successful teaching. Many teachers belong to either the National Education
Association or the American Federation of Teachers, two professional teacher
Class sizes and characteristics of students vary greatly. Preparation for
working with students from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, and
language backgrounds, and physical abilities is important.
WHAT ACADEMIC PREPARATION IS NEEDED?
All states require
teachers in public schools to have at least a bachelor's degree. High school
guidance counselors can help in selection of classes required for college
admission; graduates can then enroll in a 4-year college or in a 2-year college
followed by transfer to a 4-year institution. The 4-year program will include
Some states may require a 4-year liberal arts program followed by 1 or 2
years of education courses, including an internship or student/practice
Teacher education programs are usually coordinated with state requirements
DO I TAKE COURSES AFTER I RECEIVE MY TEACHING
Many states require that teachers eventually obtain a master's
degree, such as a Master of Education (M.Ed.), which requires at least 1 year of
course work, emphasizing study in a particular subject area.
IS ADMISSION TO A TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM AUTOMATIC WHEN
ADMITTED TO A 4-YEAR COLLEGE?
Generally, students are required to wait until their
junior year of college to apply for admission to a teacher education program.
Entrance requirements usually include personal interviews, 2 years of arts and
sciences courses, a minimum grade point average, and tests. Some schools do
permit students to take education courses during their freshman year. Two-year
college students should check with the admissions counselor at the 4-year
institution to which they will transfer to assure they are taking courses that
will be accepted for credit toward graduation.
WHAT COURSES ARE TAKEN IN A TEACHER EDUCATION
Required courses generally include professional education courses,
such as the history and psychology of education; methods of teaching; teaching a
specific subject area; and student teaching in an elementary or secondary school
HOW DO I FIND TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS?
The following are
good sources: "Barron's Index to College Majors" (Barron's Educational Series),
"The College Blue Book, Degrees Offered by College and Subject" (Macmillan and
Co.), "Index of Majors" (College Entrance Examination Board); and "Peterson's
Guides." The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
publishes an annual list of accredited schools, colleges, and departments of
education. For high school students, consulting with a guidance counselor is
HOW DO I CHOOSE A TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM?
* If you want to teach in a specific setting (urban, rural, or suburban
school), think about choosing an institution in that area. It is likely that
field and student teaching experiences will be in the local schools, providing
an opportunity to assess and evaluate them in terms of your personal likes,
dislikes, and goals.
* Think about what size college or teacher education program would be most
comfortable for you: there are advantages and disadvantages to weigh for
different sized institutions; for public and private schools.
* Verify with the state department of higher education that the teacher
education program has state approval and is accredited by a national or regional
* Ask about opportunities to observe different classrooms and schools in
order to see a variety of teaching and school situations to distinguish factors
that determine successful teaching and learning.
* Ask if cooperating teachers (full-time elementary or secondary teachers)
are assigned to work with student teachers or if they volunteer. Usually a
cooperating teacher is assigned to work with student teachers based on his/her
experience and ability to coordinate schedules and subject area.
WHERE CAN I OBTAIN FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION?
or university has a financial aid office that can be contacted for assistance.
For information about federal programs, call 1-800-433-3243 or write to Federal
Student Aid Programs, DEA-85, Pueblo, Colorado 81009. For state assistance,
contact the state scholarship agency in the capital city. You may also consult "Scholarships Fellowships & Loans" (Gale) for private scholarship programs,
"Peterson's Annual College Money Handbook: A Guide to College Costs and
Financial Aid," and "The College Cost Book" (College Entrance Examination
AFTER COMPLETING THE TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM, AM I ELIGIBLE
TO RECEIVE A CREDENTIAL?
You need certification from the state where you
will teach. Each state has its own specifications for approved teacher education
programs or the number of credit hours required in both education and academic
courses. Most states require you to pass teaching examinations before licensing
you to teach.
Some states initially grant provisional certification and expect candidates
to undertake a paid internship, working with a master teacher in a school for at
least a year.
ARE THERE OTHER WAYS TO BECOME CERTIFIED?
certified teachers are not available, most states will issue emergency
credentials to college graduates who want to teach but who have not met the
state's minimum requirements for regular credentials. Some states also offer
alternative teacher certification to college graduates who lack teacher
education training but have some experience in subject areas where teachers are
needed. Provisional certificates have been offered to compensate for this
shortage, and these teachers are given a specified time to complete
WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON VARIOUS STATE
The most reliable information source is each state's education
department or licensing office. The addresses are listed in "Requirements for
Certification," an annual publication of the University of Chicago Press.
Another source is the "Manual on Certification and Preparation of Educational
Personnel in the United States" published by the National Association of State
Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).
ARE THERE NATIONAL TEACHING REQUIREMENTS?
There are no
national teaching requirements, but nationwide teaching standards may soon be
implemented. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is
developing a system that will grant national certification to those who
voluntarily attempt and pass a set of standardized examinations. It is possible
that states may eventually adopt these national standards.
IF I MEET THE REQUIREMENTS IN ONE STATE, CAN I TEACH IN
As of 1991, 31 states plus the District of Columbia have an
agreement that permits certification reciprocity. However, teachers might not
transfer into a new jurisdiction at the same salary level and will probably need
to take some additional courses.
HOW DO I LOCATE JOBS?
At present there is no centralized
national job listing. States and/or districts advertise for and recruit their
own teachers; you must contact them individually.
WHAT IS THE DEMAND FOR TEACHERS?
There is turnover in the
teaching force just as there is in other professions. New teachers will always
be needed, but this may vary according to subject speciality and geographic
location. An increased demand for more secondary teachers is developing,
particularly in mathematics, science, special education, and English as a second
language. There is also an overall need for more minority teachers. Shortages of
teachers may occur in rural and urban schools.
References identified with an ED number
(documents) have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Documents are
available in ERIC microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents
can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800)
433-ERIC. For more information, contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher
Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036; (202)
Alsalam, N., & Rogers, G. T. (Eds.). (Annual). The condition of education
1991. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (Annual). RATE
IV--Teaching teachers: Facts & figures, 1990. Washington, DC: Research About
Teacher Education Project, AACTE. ED 328 550
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (Periodic). Teacher
education pipeline II: Schools, colleges, and department of education
enrollments by race and ethnicity. Washington, DC: Author. ED 328 549
Feistritzer, E., & Chester, D. (1991). Alternative teacher certification:
A state-by-state analysis. Washington, DC: National Center for Education
Hannah, L. K. (Ed.). (Annual). The job search handbook for educators. 1992
ASCUS annual. Evanston, IL: Association for School, College and University
Mastain, R. K. (Ed.). (1991). The NASDTEC manual 1991. Manual on
certification and preparation of educational personnel in the United States.
Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (Annual).
Thirty-seventh annual list of accredited programs/units--1991. Washington, DC:
Nelson, F. H. (Annual). Survey & analysis of salary trends, 1990.
Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Annual). Occupational
outlook handbook. Washington, DC: Author.