The teaching profession is one of the most noble callings an individual can answer. Everyone has had a mixed bag of teachers over the years. Some are excellent motivators. Others are masters of their material. Still, others are poor communicators who don’t have a clue about what they are talking about. Becoming a professional teacher takes a lot of hard work. Not only do you need to be thoroughly knowledgeable about your particular subject, you also need to work on mastering your teaching technique. It has been said that you can be the top genius in your field, but if you can’t reach your students you will never be an effective teacher.
If you decide as an undergraduate student that you want to become a teacher, then you should speak with your academic advisor and map out a plan. Typically, you will need to devote at least a year to taking educator preparation courses. These are in addition to the subject you wish to teach. For instance, if you want to teach English, you need to complete the requirements for your English degree and also complete the educator preparation classes, which includes your student teaching. The student teaching practicum usually lasts at least one full semester. During this time, you will not be taking other classes. You will report to your field placement everyday and you will act as the teacher of record.
If you decide after you have finished your undergraduate degree that you want to become a teacher, you have a little more difficult path to go down. If you want to teach the subject area in which you earned your degree, your best bet is to enroll in a school’s post baccalaureate teacher licensure program. Colleges will often work in tandem with your state to develop a program that allows you to complete all the requirements to earn a license to teach. If you want to teach in an area different than your degree, you will most likely have to go back to school and take enough courses in that area to satisfy the state’s requirements before you can begin your student teaching.
Your student teaching experience will hopefully act as a springboard for your success as a professional teacher. You will work with an established teacher that has volunteered to serve as your mentor. You will take over his or her classes for the length of at least one college semester. Your task will be to develop effective lesson plans and to create a classroom environment suited for learning. It can be an exciting experience, and, by its completion, you will know whether you really want to be a teacher.