Becoming a Mathematics Teacher
Teaching pupils interested me from childhood, because it is not just job but also special lifestyle. Moreover, it involves a big chance to influence the lives of other people. Besides, I adore children, because workings with them is rewarding and challenging at the same time.
A person who wants to become a teacher needs to get at least bachelor’s degree. Then, the future teacher has to pass tests (Praxis I and Praxis II) that check candidate’s basic academic skills, teaching skill and knowledge of the content area (e.g. elementary education or mathematics). If the person passes the texts successfully, he or she can apply for a teaching certificate from the state. After receiving this certificate, the person can start working (Dalasta). As all other kinds of jobs, working as a teacher has its advantages and disadvantages. However, I think that this profession is worth of dealing with several drawbacks.
Requirements for teachers may vary in different states of the US. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers need to have a bachelor’s degree and possess a state issued license to teach or have a certification exam passed. In addition, teachers can be fingerprinted and have a background check performed in some states (see Table 1) (“How to Become an Elementary School Teacher”).
The average annual wage of elementary school teachers was $51,660 in 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,390, and the top 10 percent earned more than $80,140 (“Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers”). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public teachers are actually paid about 11 percent more than the average professional worker. Teaching careers also offer opportunities for advancement and increased pay over time” (Halstead). In addition, private schools usually have higher wages than state schools, and they may vary from state to state (Krall).
Teachers perform different duties in elementary school. First of all, teachers plan lessons that teach kids mathematics. Besides, they constantly evaluate pupils’ achievements to monitor their progress. In addition, teachers discuss children’s results with their parents. Another responsibility is preparing class to tests required by the state. In addition, teachers should be able to work not only with groups but also with individual students in order to deal with their weaknesses. Finally, the teacher of elementary school is responsible for students’ proper behaviour during classes and breaks (“Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers”).
Therefore, teaching of young learners is concerned not only with giving knowledge, but it also presupposes forming of children’s personality. Moreover, they sometimes should play a role of parents and punish children for bad behaviour (Krall).
Teachers enjoy a wide range of benefits. To begin with, teachers have favourable retirement packages and a medical insurance. In addition, their schedule gives them an opportunity to spend time on hobbies, rest and further development. By the way, development is one of the biggest advantages of being a teacher, because it allows learning something new during the whole career. Another benefit is long summer vacations. Lastly, teaching young learners presupposes much fun, because teachers of elementary school use such methods as playing various games, singing songs, painting etc. Therefore, teachers reduce stress and stay in good mood most of the time (Krall).
The demand for elementary teachers is stable and even growing, because people always want to give education to their children. This fact does not depend on any economical factors. However, parents have two options today: state school and private, and economical conditions affect this choice. Therefore, teachers who work in private schools may suffer from difficulties during financial crisis. Besides, employees who want to get better paying package may consider such states as New York or Massachusetts (Krall).
Education for a teacher does not end after getting bachelor’s degree. Firstly, some schools demand master’s degree. Secondly, teachers must participate in ongoing professional development. For example, they are required to take continuing education or professional development courses that take place regularly. These courses improve teachers’ abilities to facilitate studying process though applying research-based methods. Besides, each state demands a minimum number of professional development hours for renewing teaching license. In addition, teachers can join professional organizations to receive such benefits as educational materials, books and collaborative opportunities (“How to Become an Elementary School Teacher”).
The person who wants to become a teacher must possess certain skills as well. Firstly, this candidate is supposed to have communicational skills. For example, he/she should be able to collaborate with teacher assistants and special education teachers. Besides, he/she needs to discuss pupils’ performance with children. Secondly, a teacher of the elementary school must be creative, because he/she is required to plan the lessons in such a way that would be interesting for children (“Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers”). In addition, teachers should change activities, add new games and be able to apply different kinds of tasks during a lesson, because kids lose their attention and interest very easily (Krall). Thirdly, a teacher must be a good instructor. For example, a mathematics teacher should have abilities to explain difficult theory in the way that is both fascinating and informative for children. Last, young learners require patience from a teacher. For example, it takes a long time to teach pupils even simple concepts. Besides, some children can break discipline and not listen to the orders. Nevertheless, a teacher must stay confident and quiet in any situation (Krall).
Mathematics teachers can start working in elementary school without previous experience (Dalasta). However, candidates with longer career history have more chances to get position in well-respected private school (interview).
Despite many advantages, this job has several drawbacks. Firstly, teachers spend time on checking homework and grading tests. In addition, they have to prepare activities for their lessons. This can be especially challenging for young teachers without experience. Secondly, modern education has much bureaucracy. Besides, teachers are required to organize different parent meetings, follow various guidelines and educational programs. Therefore, they are not able to act independently. Finally, all children are different. That is why a teacher should find individual approach to all of them (Krall).
The demand for qualified teachers is strong nowadays. However, the government is planning to increase requirements for mathematics teachers due to a bit lower knowledge of American students in comparison with children from the other countries (Krall). Therefore, a person who wants to become a teacher needs to get qualitative education. Despite several drawbacks, this job has many attractive advantages such as long summer vacations, favourable health insurance and competitive salary. In addition, teaching can be interesting for those who seek opportunity to use creativity skills. Besides, teaching is something more than work, because teachers of elementary schools have a unique opportunity to become creators of pupils’ personalities. In addition, their workdays are always different and never boring, because small children require continuous changing of activities and methods.