Becoming a teacher is a calling first, and a process second. Teaching may not be for everyone, but if you are dedicated to learning, you, too can become an excellent teacher - the kind of classroom teacher that our children deserve.
Like any profession, there are those who are best suited in skills and temperament to be successful in the classroom. How do you know if you are suited to becoming an elementary teacher? That you are called to the profession? Well...you just know...which usually boils down to one realization: You love to work with kids. You'd rather become a teacher than do anything else because working around children energizes you rather than wears you out.
But teaching is not just "being around kids"...that's babysitting or being a nanny (both of which take their own set of skills for success). If you've passed the first self-test of loving being in the presence of children every day, you need to move to the second step in self-assessment: What exactly do you like about your relationship with kids? If you are interested in becoming a teacher, particularly in becoming an elementary teacher, this is a very important question.
If your greatest joy comes from influencing children as students - young people whose primary needs are to learn from you rather than just like you - then you know that you are on the right track to a rewarding career. What makes a good teacher is important to consider. Remember, you are not in the classroom to fulfill your needs, you are there to fulfill the kids' needs...even if, in a few cases, they don't end up really liking you.
It is best if you can base your decision on some real-world experience. Nearly every school system is open to volunteers in a variety of roles, from reading with kids to after-school programs. You may have to pass a background screening, or you may have to volunteer through a separate, non-school service organization, but if you want some hands-on experience with teacher jobs - and the opportunity to ask current teachers questions - you can get it with just a little effort.
TIP: Many schools or districts have a volunteer coordinator who can assist in matching you with a classroom or specific elementary school.
Your next step is to select the teaching degree program that best fits your personal objectives. This information on selecting a teaching college will get you started in the right direction.
Need some motivation along the way? Take a look at these teaching quotes for inspiration.
How did I go from a full-time mom with a knack for working with kids to a full-time elementary teacher? My story shows that there is no set path - if teaching is your destiny, it's never too late to learn more about it and make it your career.
I earned undergraduate credits at two different universities before graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in Child Development.
The birth of my first son followed shortly after and I embarked on the career of full-time mom. Within three years I had my second son and within five years I was volunteering in the classroom...my first real taste of teaching as a career.
A few years later, I began working part-time in an elementary school office, learning the behind-the-scenes work that goes into supporting the education process. Finally, when my kids were old enough, I earned my teaching certificate and Masters of Education from Eastern Washington University. I was on my way to becoming a teacher!
After a few years of substitute teaching and temporary positions for my local district, I obtained full-time teaching employment at age 37. The path I followed in life has provided a substantial benefit that I bring to the classroom, as well as preparing me for success in the National Board Certification process. Becoming a teacher - especially becoming an elementary teacher - has been the most-rewarding career move I could have ever made.
See my About Me page for more information.
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What Makes a Good Teacher - Part 1
Are good teachers born or made?
What Makes a Good Teacher - Part 2
Tenacity, flexibility, patience...and more. Do you have what it takes?
Becoming an Elementary Teacher
Choosing an elementary school system
Options for Teaching Colleges
Choosing the best college for your teaching degree
Becoming an Elementary Teacher
Obtaining and maintaining your teaching certificate
Overseas Teaching Jobs
Worldwide opportunities for teachers
Teaching Quotes: Everyday Inspiration
What's your favorite teaching quote?
Amazing Teachers: Stories from Readers
Share your story about a teacher who made a difference