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A teacher’s role and job will vary depending on the material being taught and the environment in which they teach. In general, as a teacher, you will prepare lesson plans according to curricula, deliver those lessons, and assess the student’s progress.

Normal teaching duties may extend beyond the classroom. Teaching may involve taking field trips, supervising study sessions, helping with organizational functions, and delivering extracurricular activities.

Teachers who work in K-12 settings in the US will often develop lessons and curricula according to rules set by the state and will oversee the delivery of standardized tests.
Teaching is ultimately a social activity. It requires a keen knowledge of the subject and an ability to deliver lessons that will be taken in by students. Doing this requires an understanding of your context and the types of people you are teaching.

Most teachers in the public and private school systems in the US will need to deal with large classrooms of children of varying ages. They need to have great communication and organizational skills, along with stamina and an ability to adapt to new situations.

In the K-12 context, you can choose from a variety of specializations, including:

  • Preschool
  • Elementary school
  • Middle school
  • High school
  • Special education
  • Post-secondary
  • Technical education
  • Literacy
  • Self-enrichment
  • Vocational education
  • Fitness studies

The requirements for teaching certifications can vary by state. Teaching employers for K-12 in the US require:

  • A bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent)
  • Completion of accredited teacher preparation program
  • Those looking to teach in secondary education must complete certain credentials in specific areas
  • The completion of state teacher certification exams

Teach.com provides a list of all the certification requirements by state, along with information like salary and where you can get your certifications.

There are many possible career paths open to people who want to be a teacher. Teaching can be a very stable career. People who go into teaching can also move into education administration, school counseling, social work, teaching English as a second language, or some other dimension of education. Those who take on higher level degrees can teach at universities and conduct research. If you have the skills and inclination, you may be able to set up your own educational consultancy, or tutor privately.

For many, teaching young people and helping them to develop their intellectual, personal, and emotional capacities is incredibly rewarding. You are constantly put in new and challenging situations, whether that is from a pedagogical, administrative, or social perspective. Many teachers also work based on the school year and get summers off (unless they decide to teach in summer school).

While the salaries for teachers in the US are not bad, they are not great either. The national average teacher salary stands at around $61,000. The workload and stress of being responsible for the education and development of dozens of young people can be very challenging. Much of the educational system is based around standardized testing. This results in a ‘teach to the test’ mentality, which does not allow much room for true understanding of a subject. There is also a massive amount of professional development and extra-curricular activities involved in teaching.

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