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Any tips on how to decide what subject to teach?

I want to know what the steps are to become a teacher. Im kind of at a wall right now because Im not sure what grade or subject I would like to teach. I spoke with my counselors and they said I could get enrolled on classes so I can switch between grades as I want later on in the future. Has anyone gone about this path? Was the workload doable? Was it worth it to get double credentialed?

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Ollie’s Answer

Hi Kristen! My advice would be to get certified in a discipline that you love. If you are passionate about a particular subject area, you should go for it! In most states, you are going to have to go to graduate school, get a Masters in Education & pass your state's certification & licensing exam in your subject area to teach. In graduate school, you will be required to do a year-long internship/practicum during your second year. This will help you decide what grade level(s) you want to teach. This internship/practicum experience is very important because it will give you the exposure & insight you will need to make your decision. As a school guidance counseling graduate student, I knew from Day 1 that I wanted to counsel at the high school level because I had a passion for college advising, post-secondary options & career paths. In Massachusetts, a high school educator is required to have a license for Grades 5 thru 12, so that license gave me the certification for both high school & middle school simultaneously. Later in my career, I decided to become certified in PreK thru 8, just to increase my career options. All I needed to do for this additional certification was to take a certain number of online courses that targeted elementary school topics & apply to the state licensing board for the additional license. This only required passing the courses with a B or better & paying the $100 application fee to the State. These requirements are the same for classroom teachers here in Massachusetts, as guidance counselors are considered educators, not administrators. Hope this helps!
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Tess’s Answer

Firstly I would focus on deciding what age you feel most excited/passionate about teaching-- little kids (K-2)? bigger kids (3-5?) adolescents/highschoolers? Subjects and requirements of your day to day will be drastically different in each setting. In high school you will be more focused on delivering content and helping them reach college-readiness. In elementary school there will be much more of teaching students how to learn (how to read/how to think/study) and in the youngest grades, much more teaching kids to reach developmental behavioral goals too. If you are animated person that is outgoing and wants to do many different activities every day and loves little kids, you may prefer K-1. If you want to focus on being a specialist in one area and are more passionate about academics, maybe consider teaching an older grade such as middle school or high school.

Then think about subjects--schools vary but typically in lower grades you will cover many subjects in one day, but in middle school and high school you will cover just one main topic (perhaps slightly varied in your day if you teach a few types of classes [e.g., if you teach science you may teach one class of biology and one class of chemistry]). Are you passionate about one area? this is key as you'll have more fun and be more confident/energized if you love what you teach. and your students will love your teaching more if you truly have a passion for your subject.

In terms of your education, you'll need to check requirements of each state for certifications (and which states have teaching certificates/degrees that can transfer to other states). Degrees allow you to teach a variation of grade spans. Some elementary degrees will certify you to teach any subject from K-5. Some special education degrees will allow you to be a learning specialist for K-12th grade. Many middle school and high school degrees will limit you to either of those ages (6-8th grade of 9th-12th grade).

Talk to teachers, see if you can visit classrooms (and remember every school, district, charter school organization...etc is different and will affect your teaching experience significantly). This is such an exciting place to be in your life!
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Laurie’s Answer

I was a teacher for 24 years and I always suggest getting certified in the subject areas that you are passionate about, because you get to share that energy with your students. I always loved reading and writing as a student, and I majored in English Language Arts (ELA).
The great thing about teaching is you don't have to spend your entire career teaching one subject. You can move around and teach different grade levels and subject areas. You have unlimited opportunities, and you can earn other certifications if you find that you are interested in teaching different subject areas. I did that and I loved teaching grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 throughout my career.
Each state has a different way of certifying teachers. Some have PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and some are a little different. Your university will be able to help you understand what your specific certification will be. 
Teachers who are certified in math, science, and special education are in high demand right now, so that is something to consider too.
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Lavonda’s Answer

You have the opportunity to specialize in education, with the choice between elementary or secondary education. In your second year, it's crucial to direct your focus toward either K-5 education or a specific subject area within secondary education. Opting for elementary education (K-5) will equip you to teach across all grades within the elementary level (K-5).
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