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Things to Consider Before You Decide to Become a Teacher

written by: S.A. Coggins • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/17/2012

To teach or not to teach? If that's the question that you're still trying to answer, then you must be in the first stages of your career planning. Here are some tips to help you to find some answers.

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    So, Who Wants to Be a Teacher?

    If you're reading this article, then it's probably safe to assume that you might be interested in pursuing a teaching career. And, you might be looking for some guidance or feedback on the process of making this choice.

    So, where are you in the decision-making process? Have you already decided that you wish to become a teacher - or are you still wondering if it's the right career for you or not? Have you already made the choices on degrees, specialty areas, and practicum placements?

    Wherever you might be in your path, it is always good to evaluate the choices that you're making accordingly.

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    8 Things to Think About Making the Teaching Career Decision

    1. Identify why you want to become a teacher.

    Is it really your choice to enter the teaching profession - or is it something that someone else is trying to impose on you? Have you always wanted to become a teacher - or is it a new interest? How did you develop an interest in it?

    Understanding your motivation in entering the teaching profession will help you to make the right choices. It will also help to manage your expectations and to guide you when you're feeling discouraged or overwhelmed.

    2. List the pluses, minuses and opportunities of becoming a teacher.

    Taking a sheet of paper or your trusted journal out, go through some decision-making exercises. Even though making use of techniques like Cost/Benefit Analysis and Starbursting may seem too regimented and business-like, it helps to come up with some kind of brainstorming list when you're making major decisions like a career path. If you want some more guidance on this type of approach, check out MindTools' Decision Making Tools and Techniques.

    3. Talk to trusted friends and family about this plan.

    Sometimes, even if you do not want to hear about what people might say about your career choices, it still can help to listen to what they have to say. This way, you're also able to articulate your personal views about why you're considering teaching as a career. Also, you can use your personal reaction to people's questions, praise, or challenges whenever you raise the subject.

    4. Seek the help of a career advisor.

    If you've got access to a career counselor or advisor, getting their input will help a lot. Who knows? You might even find clearer answers if you take some career and aptitude tests like the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

    5. Create and execute a research plan.

    List questions that you wish to ask - or topics that you wish to find out more about. For example, what are the demands for teachers in your area? What kind of schools will you be teaching in? What are the salaries and benefits? What about licensing requirements? What do you need to do and/or study to become a teacher? Do you have easy access to a learning institution for teacher education? What about costs? Can you afford to obtain qualifications? If not, are there scholarships available? These are just some things that you might want to know about before you make the final decision.

    6. Get a teaching mentor or two.

    If you can get a hold of experienced teachers, then you might like to set aside some time to interview them either by email, phone, or in person. Prepare for your interview and try not to take too much of their time. Also, make sure to let them know that you're happy to hear about both the good and the challenging sides to teaching. And, be open to what they have to say. This is definitely one good way to get some insights in to the teaching profession.

    7. Try your hand at becoming a teacher or a teacher's aide.

    You can volunteer in teaching-type jobs like Sunday school teaching, tutoring a friend or family member, or visiting a classroom and helping out. This way, you get the feel of what it's like to become a teacher and see if it suits you. You can also try to use this Be a Teacher tool to give you some basic insights on a teacher's job.

    8. Read some books on teaching and other resources.

    Gathering as much information as you can about the teaching profession from books, magazines, journals, newspapers, websites, and blogs can help you in your decision-making process.

    As you can see, you can have as much preparation and planning as you can before making the decision to become a teacher. And hopefully, armed with knowledge, sound advice, and candid assessments of your strengths and interests, you will find the best career path for you.

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