There are many different levels of learning that go into becoming a teacher. Here are some of them.
When you think of what it takes to become a teacher, you probably think first of learning the background knowledge of the history, theories and best practices for education. This is the kind of learning that students are meant to absorb from an accredited college degree program. However, there is another important component as well. Would-be teachers must undergo training in the form of long-term projects that are applied in one classroom over a period of several weeks, a regime commonly known as "student teaching."
Once a new teacher is hired into a position, most school districts appoint a more experienced teacher to act as a mentor to the new teacher, helping to guide them for the first couple of years. Completing a mentor program is usually compulsory and is almost always extremely beneficial to new teachers who have little to no actual work experience. Similarly, educational administrative positions also often connect new administrators with experienced administrators to mentor them.
It's important to continue learning throughout your life. New studies and experiments being undertaken about education can turn up surprising conclusions, and the results could greatly enhance your career performance. But how can you learn about them without making an effort to stay in the loop?
There are many ways to keep learning about education. Attending teaching conferences is one way; another is taking refresher courses at a local university or community college every few years or so. However, you may also want to consider adding a master's degree to your undergraduate degree, especially if your undergraduate degree is in anything other than education. A graduate degree program is designed to dive deeper into relevant concepts and techniques than an associate or bachelor's degree program, which is intended instead to focus on the basics. You can learn a lot from a master's or a doctoral degree program, and in the bargain, you may find the added clout of a graduate degree on your resume opens many doors to different career opportunities.
If you're looking to advance your career even further, you may want to consider moving up into an administrative position. As a comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists that median pay for elementary school teachers in 2016 was $55,800; the median pay for elementary school principals in 2016, on the other hand, was $92,510. For education administration, earning a graduate degree is definitely recommended, as well as potentially pursuing administrative graduate certificates of some kind.
- Pay for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-5
- How to Become an Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-4
- Pay for Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-5