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Teaching and Education

Education is the Most Powerful Weapon We Can Use to Change the World.
-Nelson Mandela

During the launch of the Mindset Network, a nonprofit organization based in South Africa that seeks to restore post-Apartheid education and heal a nation then destroyed by the impact of HIV/AIDS, Nelson Mandela spoke those words. Today, in the United States, the need for a positive change in education is just as palpable. We want better access to information. We want our children, teens, and young adults to have a clear understanding of how to be stewards of our planet, and we want everyone to live responsibly with agency and love towards one another. And like almost every industry, education is changing. We have a broader understanding of the developing mind thanks to fields like neuroscience. This is changing early childhood education. We have a clearer picture of how to embrace exceptional learners. This is changing special education. We have access to more information in more ways than ever before. This is changing how we use technology in schools. And we have a dire need for innovative minds to help lead us to a sustainable future. This is changing our values in education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024 we will likely see 1.9 million new education jobs. The question is do we have what it take to address the challenges of education in the 21st century climate? Do we have leaders like Nelson Mandela who can help us navigate our way forward?

What is a Day in the Life of a Teacher?

We have all heard that teachers are overworked and underpaid, but that doesn’t stop people from signing up for this rewarding and oh so important job. Yes, working in education can be a very challenging job. For many though, education is a calling and may even come naturally. Turnover is quite high in education fields, however. So, before signing up for this important job, let’s take a look at what make a successful teacher and try to ascertain if it’s the right career choice for you!

Teachers have to plan. During my years as a student at the Institute of Education in London, my professors emphasized the importance of planning. “Plan for good behavior.” Well, obviously that’s not all teachers have to plan for, but without one, the day rapidly falls apart. And when we say rapidly we mean probably within three minutes. Now imagine a day where your classroom fell apart three minutes in, and you still have 6 hours to go and none or not enough preparation. What would you do? Many teachers might not come back for a second day. Good teachers, will plan better next time.

What do I have to plan? The short answer is every minute you are in class with your pupils. The better answer is that it is essential that teachers look at the overall requirements of their unit or semester, the requirements of their month, the requirements of their week, and the requirements of their day. After ascertaining a clear picture, you’re ready to plan from the bottom up. Or top down, but most great teachers will have an understanding of trajectory and then plan for success one-step-at-a-time. All teachers must lesson plan for their classes. The age and subject will dictate this of course. All teacher must plan not only what they will teach but how they will teach it. Will you use technology? Does one of your students come to school with an aid? Is one of your students visually impaired? All of this becomes part of the planning process. The planning process sets you up for the next part: teaching the material.

Teachers have to teach. Well that may seem obvious, as that is the title of your job, but this isn’t always factored in. How you will teach and deliver the material comes with years of practice, and many “try try-again” moments. You will need to remember that teacher will often be on their feet for well over 5 hours. You may have to hold heavy or cumbersome items for demonstration, use technology, and physically model what you are teaching. Pedagogy or how you deliver information are important tools to have under one’s belt when delivering a lesson. Will you always be the person talking or will you allow a student volunteer the information? This is the fun part- how you will deliver your planned material. And of course your plan will inform your teaching, and your teaching and whether or not you had success will inform how you plan the next day.

So you’re done, right? Sorry. Not quite yet. In addition to preparation and teaching, many teachers will have after-school duties. Some teachers may be in charge of detention after school. All teachers will be required to grade assignments and most teachers will take the evenings to reflect and formulate the plan for the following day. If you are teaching a specialty are like music, expect to spend some days each week in rehearsals. Other teachers will teacher-parent meetings, emails to respond to, and administrators to appease. Oh, and of course you will need to design specialty curricula for your exceptional learners, and maybe even join IEP meetings, meetings with lawyers, and meetings with other staff.

Do you still want to teach? You do?! Ok, great! Well, in order to get paid a reasonable wage, you will need a higher education degree. Most teachers realize that a master’s degree gives them a boost in salary so many head back for an advanced degree. With that in mind, let’s look at the common educational paths of educators.

What Undergraduate Degrees Are There For Teachers?

If you’re here, you are likely interested in taking an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Education. These bachelor’s degrees in education prepare students for the foundations of teaching. You will learn how to manage a classroom, design curricula for all types of students, learn how to disseminate lessons specific to your area of interest, and gain a firm understanding of school ethics and law. Many bachelor’s degrees in education lead to a certification in education. Without a certification (or licensure), you won’t be able to teach in a public school. It is essential that you complete a bachelor’s in education, take your licensure exam, and then you will be ready to put the pedal to the metal and begin your career as a teacher.

What Are Some Graduate Degrees For Educators?

After a couple of years in the field, you might be ready to go a little bit deeper into your area of interest. An Online Master’s Degree in Education is a great way to get to the depth you’re looking for, and to get a little more compensation. Online course providers understand that teachers are busy and have to pinch pennies particularly in the early years of their career, which is why online education master’s degrees often work around the schedule of an already-employed teacher. Are you looking for to further your understanding of the developmental mind of young children? Try an online master’s degree in early childhood education. These programs examine neuroscience, developmental psychology and age appropriate instructional methods. Upon completion you’ll be rearing to try new techniques and classroom layout for your early learners. If special education is where your heart is, then dive into a online master’s in special education. Here you will learn how to reach students with autism, use adaptive technology for communication, prepare lessons for gifted students, and differentiate across ability levels. If you were ever in a pickle with some of your exceptional learners, a master’s degree will help you wiggle your way out. For natural-born leaders, or individuals who have blossomed in a leadership position, it may be time to take an online master’s in educational leadership.

Here you will learn how to empower not only pupils, but other fellow educators and the community to make education the powerful weapon it should be.

Okay so you’re equipped with a degree in education, but having a job is not enough if it doesn’t pay the bills, right? So, let’s do some real talk about teacher salary.

How Much Does a Teacher Make?

Many factors influence salary: years on the job, level of degree, position, location. Let’s examine a few different types of jobs for teachers and see if we can at least find a median salary for a few specific job titles.

High School Teachers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, High School Teachers on average made $50,030. This trend is expecting to rise pretty much with inflation rates.

Elementary School Teachers

Believe it or not the average salary is a bit higher for elementary school teachers. This could have something to do with the higher physical demands required of an elementary school teacher, or it could have something to do with classroom size. Whatever the case may be, on average, elementary school teachers made $56,534 annually in 2016.

Preschool Teachers/Early Childhood Educators

Preschool teachers generally are in school for far fewer hours than elementary and high school educators and that is certainly reflected in the price. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Preschool teachers make on average $28,570.

Here’s a Tip: If you earn your master’s degree, expect to start at about $5,000 higher than teachers who start with a bachelor’s degree.

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