Teaching In America Opportunity & Challenge

Teaching in the US can be an exciting experience; educators have the chance to teach children from different cultures and economic backgrounds. The need for teachers is also increasing. Through the late 1990s, large numbers of teachers retired  just when a new baby boom increased school enrollment. Consequently students interested in teaching careers can take advantage of these opportunities by acquiring a degree in education in the United States.

Your first step on the road to your very own classroom is entry into an educational program at a college or university. For admission, these programs usually require an interview and records of test scores and grades. Students just beginning college can choose from several program options, depending on the school. Some states allow students to declare an education major upon entering the university; in others, students declare an education major in their 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, and require a 5th year education program incorporating course work and practice before granting a license.  For students who already have a bachelor’s degree and are interested in teaching p, 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, and to those professionals from other fields who want to enter education. These programs are usually one year in length.

In the United States, each individual state sets its own standards for teacher licensing. States also decide what schools of education must do to effectively prepare aspiring teachers for the challenges that await them in the classroom.
This leads to a wide variation in the quality of teacher preparation programs, an unusual exception in a nation where virtually all other professions, such as medicine, architecture and engineering require graduation from professionally accredited 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; and field experience, or how to practice teaching in a classroom.

How do you decide which schools meet the professional standards and offer the kind of program that will prepare you to become a successful teacher? A successful teacher is knowledgeable and current in the subject he or she teaches; understands and applies effective teaching methods; is able to teach students from different backgrounds and different stages of development, and is comfortable communicating and collaborating with colleagues, parents and the community to create meaningful learning experiences for his or her students. A teacher must also be an expert in imaginative motivational techniques, time management, crowd control and child psychology. It is one of the most challenging careers you can pursue. To gain all of the skills you will need to succeed as a teacher requires a strong teacher preparation program. Here are some things to look for in quality teacher education programs:

NCATE Accreditation

NCATE is a non governmental, non profit coalition of 30 national organizations representing millions of educators and the public, all committed to quality teaching and teacher preparation. A NACTE accredited school of education has met national standards deemed critically important for teacher preparation today. These standards are set by working professionals in the teaching field.

NCATE Accredited Schools:

  • Require students to gain a liberal arts education.
  • Develop their programs from rigorous standards developed by content area specialists including the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of English and 15 other specialty organizations.
  • Have high standards for admission to and completion of their program.
  • Require students to have carefully planned field experiences.

Professional Development Schools

Some colleges of education have working relationships with Kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) schools, called ‘professional development schools’, where aspiring teachers receive extended experience teaching in a classroom. The professional development schools offer much more than the traditional several week stint with one supervising teacher in one classroom. Student teachers benefit from extended teaching 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 professional development schools; K 12 faculty teach classes at the university. This arrangement ensures that university faculty are constantly ‘practicing what they preach’, and that education students benefit from the knowledge of the faculty that work regularly with K-12 students.
Studies have shown that graduates from education programs with professional development schools enter teaching with more knowledge and skills than their peers who did not take part in a similar program, and have a better understanding of diversity and the non academic needs of students. They are also described as better communicators and are more professional than graduates from other programs.

It is very important to make the right decisions in your education. NCATE publishes several brochures that can assist you in making the right program choices. You may contact us at: NCATE, 2010 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC, 20036 1023 to request brochures listing the accredited traditional and non traditional schools of education, and to order a complete guide to accredited schools of education: ‘Teacher Preparation: A Guide to Colleges and Universities’

Authors: Tracy Leal & Jane Leibbrand, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

SOURCE    http://www.transworldeducation.com/articles/teaching_in_america.htm


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