Find out what skills you need to complete your teaching degree. Learn more about teacher certification and top teaching programs in 2023.
Teaching is one of the top degrees in the United States. Educators are always in high demand, especially with so many schools receiving more students every year. Teacher broadly refers to any individual who works in public or private schools, but there are several different types of teaching jobs available, largely based on what are you wish to specialize in.
Besides teaching students in the classroom, educators have many other responsibilities. During the evenings, you must plan lessons and grade papers. The school day often lasts longer for teachers, who must attend meetings with department heads at the school. Teachers also spend time communicating with parents.
Each state has different requirements for becoming a teacher. Some requirements are universal, such as needing your bachelor’s degree and teaching certification. To become certified, you must pass a Praxis test, though some states use a different certification system. Depending on your desired profession, you may need additional certification before earning your teaching degree.
Skills to Become a Teacher
Many students seeking a teaching degree underestimate how many skills are necessary to become an educator. You must be knowledgeable in whatever subject you wish to teach, but there are other important skills as well. One of the top skills for a teacher is communication. Teachers spend most of their day interacting with students. You must be able to present information in a clear, easy to understand way. Communication is also vital when disciplining students. If students break a rule, you must be able to explain why what they did was wrong, and what steps the student can take to avoid breaking the rule in the future.
Critical thinking is another important skill. Many students require variations in lessons or assignments to understand the material. As a teacher, you are often put on the spot to answer questions or make decisions. You must be able to make adjustments to your lesson plans to better suit your classroom.
Another important skill to teaching is organization. This applies to several areas. You must be able to create an organize and effective lesson plans. Organization applies to keeping records as well, including accurate grade reports. You must also be able to assign work at a reasonable rate and balance assignments for multiple classes.
Different Types of Teachers
There are multiple types of teachers. Teachers typically go through the same training, but you may require slightly different classes based on your specialization. Elementary school teachers focus on kindergarten up to 5th grade. Elementary teachers focus on many subjects, including reading, science and math and social studies. Elementary teaching is often more hands-on than the higher grades. It often requires more patience as well, since younger students are still acclimatizing to an educational setting. Typically, elementary school teachers have one class.
Middle school teachers cover 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Middle school teachers build on the lessons taught by elementary school teachers, focusing on many of the same subjects, but applying more advanced concepts. Most middle school teachers focus on a specific subject, like math or history, and have multiple classes throughout the day.
High school teachers also teach a single subject for students in 9th to 12th grade. High school teachers develop lessons to prepare students for higher education. Because students are more mature, communication between high school teachers is much different than the lower grades.
In addition to the three base teachers, there are also special education teachers. Special education teachers work with students who have learning, emotional, mental or physical disabilities throughout all grades. Special education teachers often work alongside traditional teachers, as well as counselors, parents and the school administration. These teachers develop specialized education plans, tailored to fit the needs of each student. Most work with significantly smaller class sizes than other teachers, with some focusing exclusively on one student. Becoming a special education teacher requires additional training, with some specializing in helping students with a specific condition, such as exclusively working with autistic students.
Career Prospects: Unlocking a World of Opportunities
Elementary and Secondary Education: A Bachelor's Degree in Education qualifies graduates to work as elementary or secondary school teachers. They can inspire students to achieve their full potential, encourage critical thinking, and foster a lifelong love of learning.
Higher Education: With a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Education, individuals can pursue careers in higher education as college professors, academic advisors, and administrators. They play an integral role in shaping the educational experiences of postsecondary students.
Educational Leadership and Administration: Educators with advanced degrees in education leadership can take on positions as school principals, superintendents, and district administrators. They have the responsibility of overseeing school operations and ensuring a high-quality education for all students.
Curriculum Development and Instructional Design: Educational professionals with expertise in curriculum development and instructional design work to create engaging and effective educational materials. They apply research-based practices to enhance learning outcomes.
Financial Aid for Teachers
Pursuing a teaching degree can be a significant financial investment. Fortunately, numerous scholarships and financial aid options are available to support aspiring educators. Organizations such as the National Education Association (NEA), the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) offer scholarships and grants for education students.
Additionally, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program provides financial assistance
Teaching degrees are common among many universities, but there are several universities with standout programs for teachers. Purdue has one of the best bachelor teaching programs in the United States, with 17 different bachelor teaching degrees to choose from. There is also an accelerated path, which takes three years to complete. The school has multiple specialized programs for niche areas, like agricultural, visual arts and space science.
Heritage is a private university in Washington. As a private school, it only accepts a small number of students each year, so entry is competitive. Unlike most other private universities, the tuition is fairly inexpensive, with a fair amount of financial aid options available to students. Heritage has two of the best teaching programs, focusing on STEM education. It also has an excellent early childhood studies program, with options for online learning.
Berea is another private university with a strong focus on education. What sets Berea apart from other teaching universities is the Tuition Promise Scholarship. This scholarship is available to all students and covers the entire tuition costs for undergraduate education. There are many education degrees available, including common classes like English, math, science and social studies. There are also certification options for elementary education as well as middle grade mathematics and sciences.