Becoming a teacher in the United States can be a complicated
process. In order to teach in public school, you need proper teaching
certification from the state. Private schools may not require
certification, but they often require a degree in the subject.
The best way to obtain teaching certification is through an accredited
college or university. When choosing your place of study, make
sure that it offers legitimate, state-approved certification.
Step one: secure your educational foundation and in-class
After you have enrolled in your college or university, you have
the option for choosing your field of study, including elementary
education, early childhood, English education, special education,
or other specialties.
While you complete the required coursework, you will undergo
various types of field work. Your fieldwork assignments may start
as early as your first year, and they include observation, shadowing,
part-time student teaching, and full-time student teaching. Most
programs require at least one semester of full-time teaching,
while some require an entire school year.
During this process, you are evaluated by your cooperating teacher
(from the public school), your college's advisor, and your college's
education department. They use varied techniques, including videotaping,
observation, and meetings, to assess your progress. Often they
will want to review all your lesson plans and your students' grades
to determine whether you're communicating effectively.
Step two: pass National and/or State requirements
To meet nationwide requirements, you also have to pass the PRAXIS
tests. The specific PRAXIS test you take depends upon your program.
PRAXIS tests are standardized tests that measure your competence
on basic subjects. Many colleges offer PRAXIS review sessions
where special tutors help you cover basics that you will need
to teach elementary school, but may need to brush up on and review.
The tutors will remind you how to distinguish between similes
and metaphors, or calculate the lowest common denominator. If
your college does not offer such a review class, you might want
to purchase a PRAXIS study guide and worksheets, or find a local
study group. It is very hard to become a teacher in the United
States without a passing PRAXIS score.
Once you have completed your college's requirements, accomplished
your student teaching, and obtained passing scores on the PRAXIS,
you are ready to become a teacher.
Alternative routes to becoming a teacher
The second way to become a teacher in the United States is more
roundabout. Known as emergency certification, this methodology
is utilized by school districts which do not have enough teachers.
Your school district may only provide emergency certification
for certain subjects, such as science, math, or language arts.
However, it can be hard to obtain emergency certification for
To secure emergency certification, you usually need a Bachelor's
degree in the subject you will be teaching. For elementary school
teachers, you might need a background related to children, such
as a degree in child development, or a degree which covers several
If your school district approves your qualifications, then you
can begin a supervised teaching period. Generally this means you
will be working in the classroom, but your performance will be
reviewed, similar to the process a student teacher undergoes.
In addition, you will have to take certain night classes, depending
upon the curriculum you may not have completed in college, as
well as take the PRAXIS.
If you cannot afford a four year degree or already have one,
check with your local school district about emergency certification.
They may have a spot for you!
Considering the perpetual national shortage of teachers in the
United States, there certainly is a demand for new, passionate
teachers to enter into school districts. Once you have obtained
a teaching certification, you will have a significant level of