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In addressing the importance of social studies in today’s education system, the National Council for the Social Studies makes a powerful case: “Thomas Jefferson and other founders of the republic emphasized that the vitality of a democracy depends upon the education and participation of its citizens. The need for an informed citizenry was the very impetus for the creation of free public education in the United States. If the nation is to develop fully the readiness of its citizenry to carry forward its democratic traditions, it must support progress toward attainment of the vision of powerful social studies teaching and learning.”
Teaching social science can be very rewarding, and great teaching methods can be learned. With the right education and preparation, you can acquire the knowledge and skills to inspire classrooms of open-minded, curious students to become solid, upstanding citizens, aware of their place in the world and committed to making it a better place to live for future generations.
While STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) may garner a lion’s share of the headlines when it comes to common core educational standards in American schools, there’s an increasing voice among educators that speaks to the importance role social studies play in the development of students’ understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations within the framework of a complex society.
In most states, you can achieve this with a bachelor’s degree and a valid teaching license. For aspiring teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree—especially in a social sciences field—but no degree or license in teaching, today’s leading teaching colleges offer Master of Arts in Teaching Social Sciences programs that focus on preparing you with not just the essential knowledge and skills to become a licensed social science teacher, but an advanced immersion into the foundations of teaching, instructional planning and presentation, and the social science pedagogy. You can learn to be a difference-maker in the classroom or beyond. Students who take this route to becoming a social studies teacher often have work experience in the social.
The need for well-educated, well-rounded citizens is important to the functioning of a healthy society. As such, there will always be a need for social science teachers with the knowledge and skills to enlighten students on a diversity of subjects, including history, economics, geography, and political science.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of middle school and high school teachers will grow by around 6 percent between 2014 to 2024, which is near the 7 percent average for all occupations. The demand will likely be even greater in urban school districts.
You’ll have an important responsibility as a teacher of the social sciences. Perhaps even more than for other teachers in your school, your everyday work will be filled with opportunities to inspire students to identify and understand not only the challenges faced by our diverse nation, but also how we relate to others beyond our own borders. Each class becomes a social experiment in how students interact with and engage each other. You’ll discuss the news of the day, and you’ll promote lively discussions about who we are as a society and what we can learn from different societies throughout history.
A social science teacher’s daily schedule typically includes time before and after school to meet with parents, students, and other teachers, so good communication skills are essential. You will probably also spend time on evenings and weekends reading and keeping up with world events, grading papers, and preparing your lessons.
If the idea of becoming a social science teacher appeals to you, the following organizations can provide support and guidance to help you achieve your goals.
Social science teachers play an important role in the U.S. educational system. Check out some of the current positions available for dedicated educators in middles schools and high schools across the country.
A social science teacher’s salary is generally in line with that of other middle school and high school teachers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school teachers earned a median annual salary of $57,200 in May 2015, while middle school teachers earned a median annual salary of $55,860. Other important factors that may impact your salary include the state and community where you teach (teachers in urban areas and bilingual teachers tend to earn more), how long you have been teaching, and the level of education you have attained.
The social sciences play an important role in helping students understand how the world in which we live came to be. Geographical, historical, and geopolitical perspectives all help shape who and where we are today and where society is likely heading in the future. Teaching social science to middle and high school students can be empowering, enlightening, and rewarding.
It starts with the right education from a leading teachers college. Study and master advanced teaching methods, and you’ll gain a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to become a teacher with the capacity to make a positive difference in the life of your students. You’ll complete much of your coursework online, so your studies can dovetail with your current schedule and responsibilities. To earn your teaching certificate, you’ll also be required to complete a demonstration teaching component, evaluated by a host teacher and monitored by a clinical supervisor. This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your teaching skills in a live classroom setting.
From ancient civilizations to current events, your classroom will be filled with opportunities to enlighten inquisitive young minds about how the threads of history have been intricately woven into the fabric of our modern society. Make a difference in the world: Become a social science teacher!
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