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How does a teacher progress in his or her field?

I am a high school student thinking of becoming a teacher. In my 16 years of life, I have figured out many of my own qualities. One of my qualities is the fact that I like moving up ranks. I don't like staying in one field while watching others move up to become more successful individuals. I understand that as a teacher, I will have to be doing the same thing for years and years, but it is up to me to change up the way I will teach the curriculum. Does a teacher ever advance in a school? How so? #career #teacher #education #student #progress

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Caleb Reid’s Answer


I'm certainly not a teacher, but my mother works in for the public schools system back home. From what I've experienced second-hand, what you put in is what you get out. If you truly invest in your students and peers around you, you can certainly advance and reach your full potential. Now if you're hoping to obtain an administrative role, you should look into earning your master's degree after undergraduate. Personally, I've looked into doing this because I think I would love to maybe teach one day in my life much further down the road. I recommend finding a college or university that has a five-year program, where you do four years of undergrad and then get your master's after the fifth year. Hope this helps!

Hello Caleb! This definitely helps me in my ongoing career search. I will start looking into the five-year programs at different colleges. Thanks so much! Karen P.

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Karen,

I assume by teaching you mean the more traditional K-12 experience. I know many teachers and it can be rewarding for some of them to do the same thing over and over for years. My brother has been in Education for over 25 years. He started out as a high school history teacher. He would go on to teach a variety of topics such as World History, Political Science, Government, etc. He has taught regular and accelerated classes which provided some variety for him. His favorite work was a yearly school trip to visit Washington, DC. which he did about 10 times. He eventually earned a masters degree in Education. After a while, he found that he wanted a bigger voice. So he got another master's degree, this time in Administration. He is now an Assistant Principal. His knowledge of being a teacher allows him to be a bigger advocate for teachers.

I am a learning and development professional in the corporate arena. I was and am still an instructor in many global businesses (although it is not my occupation 100% of each day). There are many differences between this type of work and the work that my brother did as a teacher. First of all, all of your students are adults and many are older than you at some points in your life. In addition, you rarely focus on a single subject. You have to be able to teach anything from 30-minute training classes to 7-week new hire onboarding programs. And your classroom locations can change a lot. I actually did quite a bit of traveling both in the US and around the world in my role as a trainer. That can be exciting and exhausting. I liked the variety of the work that I did as well. I taught in banks, for hospitality businesses, and now a large technology organizations. I liked the variety and the opportunity to see the world. Some of my peers today started out in K-12 education. So you can transition between public school and corporate training.

Teaching is such a wonderful professional. Whatever path you choose, do what makes you happy and you will do it for your whole life.


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Rachel’s Answer

It really depends what type of teacher you would like to be. However the main pathways are generally the same and the options vary but go along the same lines.

  1. You need to graduate high school.
  2. You need to attend a college/university and earn a four- year B.A. degree. You will want to get a bachelors degree in the subject-matter that you want to teach, this makes certification in your state and subject-area feasible. You may opt to minor or double-major in education. You do not need to have a bachelors in education to be a teacher. I would suggest getting a bachelors degree in the subject you would like to teach. (for example: I am an English teacher, I majored in English literature and now have a bachelors in English).
  3. Once you graduate college with your bachelors degree you have a few options:

A. Go directly to Graduate school and obtain your masters in the area of teaching/education you want to teach (ie. Masters of Education, Masters of Teaching, Masters of Secondary English, Masters of Teaching in Secondary English, Masters of Teaching in Elementary, Masters of Special Education etc.). You may also opt to get a masters degree in the subject-are you wish to teach. However, while in graduate school you must obtain a masters degree in some variation of teaching/education. So you will have either a MAT (Masters of Teaching) or MED (Masters of Education). Most graduate schools have one of the two programs and offer a variation depending on the subject (ie. Masters of Teaching in Secondary English or Masters of Education in Secondary English). This option is ussually a fifth year pathway that allows you to student teach at a school while earning your masters degree.

B. You can apply to an Alternative Route to Certification (if you state has options/offers this). This would look like a program like TeachForAmerica, AmeriCorps TutorCorps, or other Teacher Residency Programs (ie. KIPP Teaching Fellows, MATCH Schools, or charter schools that offer Teacher Resident positions. Look up the options in your state or the options available if state is not a boundary for you. During the year or two-year commitment of these programs you would typically also have classes or being earning a masters degree. This option is for teachers who want to start working directly after they graduate college. Some programs lead to Certification in your state and others lead to BOTH Certification and a Masters Degree. The ARC programs lead to 90 day certifications, which then lead to Initial Educator Certification OR Resident Teacher Certification (ALL are pathways to FULL certification in your state).

  1. Regardless of which route you take you will need to take the certification exams in your state. MOST states, including CT (which is the information I know because it is my state) require the PRAXIS exams. You will need to research certification requirements within your own state for more information. However, while you are earning your masters (or after you have earned your bachelors) you will want to also prepare for and take the PRAXIS Core (which can be waived if your SAT/ACT scores are high enough) and the PRAXIS II which cannot be waived and MUST be passed for certification.
  2. Once you have obtained your Bachelors degree AND Masters degree AND Passed your state certification exams AND done some form of students teaching (whether that is during college or in a residency program) you can then:
  3. Go to your state board of education website and complete your certification information.
  4. Then, you can APPLY as a LEAD teacher in the area you are certified.

MOST pathways take 4-6 years. You will be able to start your first year of teaching as a lead teacher generally in year 5 or 6.

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Earn a bachelors degree in the subject area you would like to teach in AND or a bachelors in Education.
  • Decide if you want to do a teaching Residency program like Teach For America or if you would like to go straight to graduate school to earn your masters degree.
  • Apply to Graduate schools and Teaching Residency programs. During your senior year of college.
  • Begin your first year of grad school or teaching residency.
  • Earn your Masters degree in Education or Teaching, in the area you would like to teach in.

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Karen’s Answer

Another option could be to go into corporate training.  As a corporate trainer, I had the opportunity to teach quite a variety of skills such as leadership, communication, meeting management, etc.  to employees. At one point I suggested we launch a corporate university and that idea was accepted which was fun to do.  Each year we expanded our offerings.  I also initiated a monthly corporate training newsletter.  Each of these experiences allowed me to do additional things in related fields in the future.

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Rachel’s Answer

Many colleges provide incredible teaching programs. A few of the best in the nation are Johns Hopkins University, NYU, and UConn

Teaching involves a number of different skills and qualities. I would say the most important are:

  1. People skills - being friendly and working well with others. You will need to be personable, caring, kind, friendly, compassionate, and understanding. These qualities make a great teacher. But you also need to be stern and firm in your directions, rules, and discipline
  2. Public speaking - every day in your class you will need to be able to speak and present information to your students, practice speech, and practice fluency of language and talking in front of others
  3. The subject you plan to teach - become a master of the subject you plan to teach, make sure you know as much as possible and learn as much as you can about the subject you plan to teach. Take as many classes as possible in this subject and learn everything you can about it.
  4. Psychology & Human Development - start reading books and research articles on human development and psych. It will be helpful for you to know how people learn at different stages and the best ways to teach them at these stages (depending on stage of development and schema).