Do you love sharing knowledge with people and helping them to explore their own curiosities? Are you good at explaining things in a way that makes people feel encouraged to learn more? Does the idea of helping to shape minds excite you? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be a teacher in the making! Becoming an educator for elementary school, junior high, or high school students is a path that many find extremely fulfilling and rewarding. Teaching focuses on helping a child or student enjoy learning and growth. It's a profession that is fueled by educators who are passionate about helping, and a good teacher will have a singular focus on ensuring everyone in their classroom gets the education they deserve.
But having a passion for knowledge, learning, exploration and people is only part of the equation—of course, you’ll need the right education to help support your goal of becoming a teacher. Elementary school teachers and high school teachers will have different education requirements, but ultimately if you're looking to enter a profession where you teach, there are education requirements and personality traits you need to have. But before you take the degree program plunge, it can be helpful to ask yourself some questions to really determine if teaching is the right path for you.
When considering teaching as a career path, it’s a good idea to do some self-exploration to make sure it’s a job you’re ready to commit to. Some of the signs that indicate you’d be a good teacher include:
- You care about our future. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching kindergarten kids, elementary school children, high school teenagers, or adults looking for a degree to help them launch into a new career: being a teacher means shaping minds that will help change the future. And if you care about what that future will look like as much as the people who can help shape it, becoming a teacher is a great way to support that vision on every level.
- You want to make a difference. Students of all kinds create strong bonds with their teachers, especially when they’re learning something new and feel unsure of themselves. It’s a privilege to watch students grow and thrive--and the ways you support them in doing so stick with them forever.
- You’re a great organizer. Sure, you love your label maker and you can color code files with the best of them… but can you organize school trips, lesson plans, and parent teacher interviews without batting an eye? You’ll be using all these organizational skills and more in your role as a teacher.
- You are good at giving directions and getting others to follow. One of the keys to being a great teacher is how you inspire people to learn. If you can give direction in a way that encourages people to participate and follow, without making it feel like a chore, chances are you’re ready to put those skills into action professionally.
- You are patient. Patience isn’t just for teachers who have a roomful of hyperactive kids who don’t want to do nap time, or algebra experts prepping high schoolers for the SATs. It doesn’t matter what kind of lesson you’re teaching—having patience for your students will go a long way to helping them learn what they need to know, and giving them the room to grasp the concepts you’re teaching will help them get there.
- You have a good sense of humor. Teaching can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but let’s be honest—not every day is going to be picture perfect. The more you can go with the flow on those tougher days and find something to laugh about, the better chance you’ll have of successfully making it through to a better day—and helping your students to do the same.
- You’re optimistic. Having optimism is more than just a good way to brighten your day—it helps support your students, too. By seeing the bright side of things, and helping your students to see that side, too, you can give them the support they need to learn. Especially when the lessons are challenging.
- You’re a good storyteller. Math, science, english, history… it doesn’t matter the subject, all lessons come with a good story. So if you have an affinity for telling a good origin tale or explaining the hows, whys, and whats of an equation, moment in time, or a writer who changed the world, then get ready for an audience of students who hunger for knowledge
- You want to take on a challenge. Yes, teaching can be an incredibly fulfilling career, but it’s not easy! No two days are ever the same and you’ll be expected to think fast to keep up with your students—and hold their attention. But a teaching job is the opposite of monotonous and predictable, so if that sounds exciting to you, you’re in the right place.
- You’re excited about the idea of working in a classroom. Whether you work with one class all throughout the school day or you get to interact with a variety of classes with tons of different students, your classroom is your home base throughout the school year. It’s exciting to have a home away from home that can encourage growth and exploration in others and if that sounds appealing to you, you might just be a teacher.
There are so many benefits to becoming a teacher—chiefly among them, getting to prepare students for the next phase of their lives or careers. But along with the enriching opportunity to share knowledge and help shape the future, teachers get to experience a lot of other great benefits, such as:
- Time off during the summer and holidays
- Unparalleled job fulfillment that really produces results
- An opportunity to impact the future
- The chance to make a difference in your student’s lives
- A unique challenge
- The opportunity to experience new things every day
- Unique collaboration experiences with students and their parents
- The chance to explore lessons, their origins, and their impact on students
Now that you’re ready to become a teacher, it’s time to put a plan together. First, you’ll need to decide what area of study you’d like to focus on and what level of student you’d like to teach. Then, you’ll want to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program focused on your chosen teaching category. And if you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can get a relevant master’s degree that will also prepare you for licensure and life in the classroom.
Part of your education will include student teaching, where you’ll get in-classroom, real-world experience to prepare you for what it will be like to lead your own class. Once you’ve graduated with your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be required to take a Teacher Certification test as a final step before you enter the workforce. Educational and certification requirements can vary by state, so make sure you check with your state’s education board so you can plan accordingly.
Teachers also have a variety of professional development opportunities to choose from, which will help you keep up with the latest developments in your field. There’s specialized or technical training that can be adapted to a particular area of interest, or overall leadership courses to help you become a stronger leader both at your school and in the community. Additionally, you can take classroom management courses to increase your knowledge about student learning and engagement. Yearly classes, tests, workshops, and seminars are also a great way to enhance your skills and while there are plenty of conferences and lectures from thought leadership innovators in education. But to take your career to the next level, enrolling in a degree program like a Master of Science in Educational Leadership can help you advance into roles such as a school principal.
In addition to offering a variety of degree programs, taking an online program with an esteemed university such as WGU offers multiple benefits to make it easier for you to earn your degree. By combining degree programs that include accreditation that sets you up for licensure, you can save time and money—and streamline the process. Our online courses are also set up to work with your schedule and allow for flexibility, so you can learn based on your timeline, and complete your coursework on a pace that fits with your schedule. Sign up today, and you could be on your way to becoming a teacher!