It’s an exciting time to have the opportunity to learn and completely change what you are doing for a living. Believe that you can make the change to become a teacher. Take the journey at your own pace. Never give up without first talking to Dr. Arndt or a professor. They can give you insight into what honestly is best for you. Here are some practical tips to get you started and remember throughout the journey.
1. Talk to teachers.
- Find out what they do
- What led them into teaching?
- Why do they enjoy what they do?
2. Observe teachers teaching the age group(s) you think you want to teach.
- Ask family or friends who are teachers if you could get permission to observe them, or teachers from their school, for the age group you wish to teach
- Volunteer for organizations that serve the age group you would like to teach.
- Imagine yourself in the shoes of the teacher you are observing—what do you want to remember to apply to your own classroom, what things might you change?
3. Take a graduate education course to learn more, and be among like-minded people.
- Students can take up to three courses without being accepted into a Graduate Education program.
- You will find people just like you trying to juggle multiple priorities while going to school—a family, job, learning curve, and so much more.
- New students get four opportunities throughout the year to begin their program at the start of each new session: fall, winter, spring, and summer.
4. Do a personal inventory of your own values, personality, preferences and goals.
Begin with asking…
- Am I willing to learn if I do not have a command of the content I want to teach?
- Am I good at explaining the content I want to teach?
- Elementary school teachers need knowledge of a broad range of content.
- Secondary school teachers must have an in-depth command of a specific content area (math, chemistry).
- Rest assured you can take courses to gain specific knowledge and skills within your content area.
5. Remember it takes four to five years for a teacher to hit his or her stride.
- Am I organized and detail oriented?
- Teaching requires:
- daily planning, based on state or national standards, for each class taught
- activators at the beginning of classes to engage students
- small group and individual activities to help students meet daily learning objectives
- formative assessments to check for students' daily understanding
- evaluative assessments to ensure comprehension of content
- You will become well prepared to do all of these things through Gordon’s Graduate Education Master’s courses.
- Am I a good manager of time?
- Time is key to ensuring all students learn the content through daily formative and periodic evaluative assessments. As a result, time becomes one of the most precious resources a teacher has and desires to use wisely.
- Do I have the temperament to be a leader, a follower, a listener, or counselor as the situation demands?
- Teachers are leaders of their classroom and may lead projects within their schools, yet simultaneously be called upon to be members of committees, groups, councils, and task forces.
- Effective teachers are good listeners with their students, and may council parents seeking help to support their son or daughter.
- Can I size up a situation and make an appropriate decision quickly?
- Within the course of any given day teachers will manage a classroom, lead students on field trips, shift from one instructional procedure to another, discipline students, supervise afterschool activities, interpret and act on policy and curriculum issues.
- Do I keep things in perspective?
- Everyday problems of teaching, disciplining, planning, counseling, dealing with administrators, colleagues, and parents, can build up for teachers if not kept in perspective.
- Teachers who take the time to reflect on their days often manage the day-to-day issues more effectively. Reflection is a part of many of your courses and practicum as you pursue your Master’s.
- New teachers often seek out a veteran teacher they can trust to mentor them.
- The goal is not to be easily wounded by disappointment, rudeness, and even unfairness, because these things happen in teaching as they do in any occupation.
- According to research cited by Pam Grossman, professor of education at Stanford University in Jobs Are Hard to Find, April 19, 2009
6. You will learn to teach by teaching.
- The purpose of a graduate education program is to get you as ready as possible to learn how to teach by subjecting you to a variety of methods and experiences that have a basis in educational standards and research.
- The only way to get good at teaching is to teach.