Career Changer Tips

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement, nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
—Helen Keller

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.
  • 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. 

5. Remember it takes four to five years for a teacher to hit his or her stride.

  • 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.