If you can qualify, scholarships are a great way to pay for your education.
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Unlike loans, they do not need to be paid back. Scholarships tend to be competitive, so be prepared to showcase your skills, awards, honors, and qualifications on your application. Check for scholarships particular to your state as well as those offered at the national level. These grants have a service obligation attached to them, so make sure you will be able to meet those conditions.
Otherwise, your grant will turn into a loan.
The requirements include teaching for at least four years in a high-need field. In addition to scholarship opportunities, you should consider financial aid options. Every college and university has a financial aid department. An advisor can guide you through the process of finding, applying for, receiving, and paying back loans and aid. You can always apply for a private loan, but government-backed student aid is usually a better choice. Your financial aid advisor can help you make this decision.
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This will help you determine what type of aid you qualify for and what types of grants and loans you may be able to apply for. These include Pell Grants , which are given to undergraduate students, Perkins loans , which are low-interest federal loans, or PLUS loans , which you can use for graduate school.
There are also teacher loan forgiveness and cancellation programs in place, which may assist you with paying off your school loans. These programs are intended to encourage young people to enter the field of teaching, so take advantage of them if you can. There are certain eligibility requirements based on the type of aid you receive and how long you plan to teach, so read more on the Department of Education website to be sure you qualify for loan forgiveness.
Curriculum for a Teaching Degree Program The curriculum that you can expect for a teaching certification program will vary depending on the university or college that you attend. However, there are similarities among most education programs. You will take coursework related to those subjects as well as courses that are specific to education. Most teaching programs will also require that you get some practical experience in a classroom as a student teacher.
For more information on typical programs in education, read our Best Colleges for Education Majors guide.
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When selecting a major and minor area of study, you should have in mind the subjects that you hope to teach. There are many paths from which to choose, such as science and technology, mathematics, literacy, or language.
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There are population-specific specialties as well, which prepare a person to work as a gifted and talented teacher, special education teacher, adult and continuing education teacher, ESL teacher, or reading specialist. While such a specialty major is not always as flexible as more general majors like secondary education, it can lead to careers with higher salaries. Most education programs will limit the availability of major and minor choices to those that are teachable. For instance, a major in chemistry is a teachable major because chemistry is a major subject taught in schools and you might also be able to teach other science-related courses.
A major in fashion design, on the other hand, may not be acceptable since that is not a subject typically taught in public schools. You may also be asked to choose a minor, depending on your school, which should also be in a teachable subject. Much of your coursework will count towards your major and minor. If you are majoring in Spanish, for example, you will take numerous Spanish language and culture classes.
You may also need to take certain electives required by your university. This could include a variety of courses to complete a liberal arts education such as humanities, social sciences, English, and math. In addition to courses that relate to your major and minor, you will take education classes to earn your teacher certification. The specific classes you need to take will depend on whether you are getting certified in elementary , secondary , or special education , or another area. Regardless of the type of certification you are pursuing, there are certain types of education classes that every prospective teacher can expect to take:.
Many teacher certification programs require students to get classroom experience as they work towards their degree. Student teaching is often completed during the final year of study. You will need to accumulate a certain number of hours of classroom experience, which may also include volunteering in schools or tutoring programs, observing classroom teachers, and actively participating in classrooms.
Most likely your education program will help you set up this experience, but you may be allowed to connect with schools on your own as well. Student Teaching Becoming a teacher involves several steps. The education and certification process culminates in a real-world teaching experience.
The specific requirements for your student teaching experience will depend on your university or college certification program.
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It may be just one semester at one school, it could be a full year at one school, or it might be split between two different classrooms. In most cases, your program will have an office dedicated to placement in student teaching positions. Colleges realize the importance of matching you with an experienced mentor who teaches a subject that is compatible with your certification area.
There will be certain requirements that you must meet in advance, such as completing certain courses before you can start a student teaching position. Be sure that you understand these requirements ahead of time and that you plan for your student teaching experience so that you do not miss an entire semester and delay graduation. Also be sure to submit all of your required forms and paperwork on time. Student teaching puts your learning into practice. The practical experience you will gain by student teaching in the classroom will help you develop your skills.
Work with your mentor teacher and allow him or her to guide you.
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Accept advice and constructive criticism and use it to improve. Another great way to take advantage of this experience is to record yourself as you student teach. When you can see and hear what you are doing, you can begin to understand the areas in which you need improvement. Your certification program may accept alternative experiences in the place of student teaching.
Contact someone in the department to find out what other experiences may be accepted. For instance, if you previously worked as an instructor in a charter or private school that did not require you to be certified, that may count towards your student teaching credits. Another possibility may be a teaching position you held with a volunteer organization such as the Peace Corps. Check with your school for more information how to become a teacher through alternative experiences. Public school teachers also must be certified or licensed by their state board of education. Once you have completed your education, you need to make sure that you meet the teacher licensing requirements specific to your state.
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Certification for teachers is left up to individual states, so it varies from one to the next. Make sure you find out exactly what you need to do in the state in which you are considering finding a teaching position. Once you have completed your program, you will need to pass some kind of test.
Most states require the Praxis Series , but even those which require their own tests will typically include both a general test and a section on the particular subject area for which you are seeking certification. Most states also require a period of student teaching. This may also be called mentored teaching or classroom experience. Typically, this is completed at the end of your teacher preparation program, before you graduate. Finally, in most states, you will need to pass a criminal background check at the state level and through the FBI. To find out the specific requirements for certification for your state, you can research online.
This site provides information on requirements for both traditional route teacher certification and alternative route teacher certification by state. If you become certified as a teacher in one state but want to move to another and still be able to work as a teacher, you must meet the requirements for teacher certification in that new state. For instance, if you received certification in Alabama and want to move to Georgia, you can immediately begin to seek work there under their interstate agreement. You will, however, need to meet certain additional requirements within a specified amount of time.
See our guide to reciprocity for further details on transferring teacher certification.
Adding Endorsements When you get your teaching certificate, you will see that it lists your endorsements. These are the subjects and grade levels you are qualified to teach. For instance, a high school teacher might have a secondary language arts endorsement and a secondary biology endorsement if she majored in English and biology while earning her secondary teaching certificate.