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.
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.
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 elementary school.
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 subjects.
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 available opportunities.