Dear Future Teachers,
I'm a little more than halfway through my undergraduate career, and I'm starting to prepare for my next steps in my journey to becoming a teacher. These steps include applying for a Master's program to continue my education as well as working towards my licensure for teaching. Everyone's process to becoming a teacher might look a bit different based on the paths they choose; it really depends on what's best for you! While a lot of teachers might obtain their licensure after completing their undergraduate degree, I am personally receiving my licensure after I complete a Master's in Arts of Teaching (M.A.T) degree. Although the journeys might be different, there are a lot of similar things education majors need to collect for their portfolios. I wanted to share some tips on how best to meet your requirements for getting your degree and license in teaching!
Get experience working or volunteering with kiddos!
Experiential education is a great way to learn, especially when you want to go into teaching! Look into clubs or tutoring organizations offered at or near your university to get started working with students. This can also be a great opportunity to solidify what age groups you would like to teach during your career. I work with middle schoolers at a nonprofit currently, but I know there are several student organizations through my university that offer tutoring opportunities for local students as well. Working with students will also help you grow more comfortable in the academic classroom before you participate in student-teaching.
Meet and get to know your professors
Making connections and networking is beneficial regardless of your major. It can definitely be intimidating to go to office hours and build rapport with professors, but more often than not, your professors want to get to know you! You can find mentors within your professors, and they can help write recommendations for opportunities you want to pursue later on in your career. Whether it's for an application to graduate school, a job, or another opportunity, having professors or mentors that know you and your goals will benefit you greatly.
Look into the licensure requirements in your state and prepare accordingly
Teaching licensure requirements might vary by state. It's important to check out your requirements so you know what to prepare for by the time you complete your chosen program. Most teachers will complete a semester student teaching before graduating from undergrad and will be required to complete an exam, such as the Praxis II Exam in their content area for licensure, both important steps in obtaining a teaching license. For my specific program at UNC Chapel Hill, I won't be eligible for licensure until after I complete the M.A.T. program. I started looking into my requirements for the program as early as my first year of college to know what goals I needed to work towards and prepare for. For example, I have to take the Praxis in Science and Social Studies to apply to the M.A.T. program, and I've been preparing by using Khan Academy study materials or other study guides I could find online. Check out this link to get to know more about the specific requirements for certification in all 50 states: https://www.alleducationschools.com/teacher-certification/.
Focus not only on the content you will teach, but how to interact with students and their families!
Teaching students the information they need to know is only part of the job of an educator. It's important not to get so caught up in learning the material that you have to relay to students that you forget all the other vital parts of being a teacher. Social emotional development, conflict resolution, interacting with parents and collaborating with coworkers are just as important in this career as helping students learn. I've taken so many interesting classes that focus on the different aspects of working with youth and their families, and I've learned so much that has really influenced the way I want to work with my future students. Kids are more than what they learn for a test, so make sure to focus on other elements of being an educator and making an impact!
As I continue in my own path to becoming a teacher, I'm hoping to give more specific tips and tricks to help you all on your own career paths. I'm tracking my study tips, helpful websites, and other important information to share with you all as you get closer and closer to earning your certification in teaching! If you're an education major, or thinking about becoming a teacher, and you want to share about your personal programs, or ask more specific questions, please don't hesitate to reach out through the Contact Form on my Home Page or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.