Study Teaching in America
But studying in the United States offers additional opportunities and challenges for aspiring teachers, as the field of education is changing dramatically.
Study Teaching in America
Never before has so much attention been paid to the quality of teacher education and to our nation's schools. This new emphasis on teaching and learning makes it an exciting time to be working and studying in the field.
One reason why teacher training has become a top priority in the US is the nation's growing need for teachers. Forecasters project that we will need to hire two million new teachers over the next decade.
Students who receive a teaching degree in the US will find many employment opportunities, particularly in fields like mathematics, special education, science, and ESL.
Future educators who come to the US to study can take advantage not only of its growing job market, but also of its diverse population, as education students have the chance to work with children from many different cultures and economic backgrounds.
This experience will benefit you no matter where you pursue your teaching career.
Your first step on the road to a teaching career is entry into an education program at a college or university. Admissions requirements usually include an interview and records of test scores and grades.
Students just beginning college can choose from several program options, depending on the school - some students declare an education major upon entering university, whereas others declare an education major in their sophomore or junior year.
Some schools do not allow students to major in education, but prefer them to complete a 4-year degree in an academic major, requiring a 5th year education program incorporating coursework and practice before granting a license.
For students who already have a bachelor's degree and are interested in teaching, there are alternative paths to a teaching license.
These non-traditional teacher education programs are designed to offer pedagogical theory and classroom internships to students already possessing a degree.
These programs are usually one year in length, and do not culminate in a degree - you may wish to pursue a master's degree program, which is usually two years in length.
A Program that's Right for You
In the United States, there is no central ministry that approves teacher education programs; each state sets its own standards for program approval and teacher licensing.
This leads to a wide variation in the quality of teacher preparation programs. However, while programs differ from state to state and school to school, all emphasize three areas to different degrees:
- the liberal arts with a focus in a specialty area
- pedagogy, the study of how to teach
- field experience
- practice teaching in a classroom.
How do you decide which schools meet high professional standards and offer the kind of program that will prepare you to become a successful teacher?
Successful teachers know their subject matter and are able to use a variety of methods to teach that subject to children. They can teach students from different backgrounds and different stages of development, and are comfortable working with colleagues, parents, and the community to improve student learning.
Teachers must also be imaginative experts in motivational techniques, time management, and child psychology. To gain all of the skills you will need for this challenging career requires a strong teacher preparation program. Here are some things to look for:
NCATE is a non-governmental, non-profit coalition of over 30 national organizations representing millions of educators and the public, all committed to quality teaching and teacher preparation.
Through the field-at-large, NCATE develops national standards in teacher preparation, and an NCATE-accredited school of education has met standards deemed critically important for teacher preparation today.
NCATE's standards focus on what students in the education program know and are able to do.
Professional Development Schools
Some colleges of education have working relationships with K-12 schools, called Professional Development Schools, where aspiring teachers receive extended experience teaching in a classroom.
PDSs offer much more than the traditional several week stint with one supervising teacher in one classroom. Student teachers benefit from extended clinical practice, and feedback from a variety of mentor teachers, as well as their peers and university supervisors.
Student teachers also get the opportunity to increase their connections between theory and practice - often, university faculty teach children at the PDS and K-12 faculty teach classes at the university. This arrangement ensures that education students benefit from the knowledge of faculty who work regularly with K-12 students.
Finding Out More
Obviously, it is very important to make the right decisions in your education. One helpful resource is NCATE's 'A Guide to College Programs in Teacher Preparation', the definitive guide to nationally accredited teacher preparation programs.
This provides information about each of the accredited colleges and universities - from tuition, size, and length of program to descriptions of noteworthy program features, including clinical experiences, and a list of those programs that meet especially high standards set by leaders in each teaching field.