There are few callings more noble than education. Teachers are entrusted with fostering the intellectual and social development of our future citizens and leaders. You might have been inspired to teach by a teacher, which is often the case, or you might be inspired by some inner desire to work with children. No matter your specific instigating motivation, your profession will be glad to have you as an active member. Furthermore, your community will be pleased to have a dedicated, passionate person involved with its children.
First, however, you need to find a teacher-preparation program, earn your teaching credentials, and take over your very own classroom. This article is dedicated to providing you with resources that can inform your college years and then your professional growth and development. Make sure to bookmark this page as it will come in handy over and over again.
Resources for Before and After College
Resources for Education Students
How a college or university is accredited should be a chief component of search for the best school. Accreditation should be a minimum qualifying factor. If a school is not at least regionally accredited, you should probably consider another program. This feature is particularly important when you are seeking a professional, state licensure after graduation.
Regional accrediting agencies such as the following provide credentials that are widely accepted:
One easy way to determine if an education program is worthy of consideration is if they are recognized by your state board as a valid teacher-preparation program. If not, then you will have a very difficult time earning your teaching credentials. In fact, you might have to re-take all your education courses over again.
Furthermore, if you attend an out-of-state institution and wish to become licensed in your home, or other, state, you should research that state board's requirements or pursue a program with a national accreditation which will be recognized coast-to-coast.
The top accrediting boards for education programs are:
Questions About Financial Aid
Paying for a college education is often a major concern for students and their families. Thus, you should be willing to spend a good deal of time considering your options and making plans to cover all of your needs while in pursuit of your educational goals. One of the first avenues to explore is that of scholarships and grants. These funds often come with few strings attached, and you usually don't have to repay any of the money.
Some state governments offer grants to education students who are on track to obtain their teaching credentials. These grants are often all-inclusive and if you qualify you can graduate with no financial debt whatsoever. However, these funds often come with a few strings attached. Namely, they ask that you repay the state by working in its schools, which you intend to do in any case. The terms might also include parameters such as working in at-risk schools or pursuing a specialty in a high-need area, such as Special Education, Science, or Mathematics. Note that you might be on the hook for all or some of the money, plus interest, if you leave the profession before your prescribed tenure is complete.
There are always other education scholarship opportunities from local and national foundations who have an interest in promoting teachers and schools. Some of these may only provide a small award, but even a $500 award can help pay for books or one class, and you'll never have to repay it. Try to make a regular practice of applying to scholarships.
Finally, most students will find that they need to apply for federal or private student loans to cover some of their education. While there are plenty of options available from private educational lenders, make sure that you check the repayment terms available from federal and private loans first. In many cases, federal student loans have more favorable interest rates and repayment plans, though if your parents or you have excellent credit, that may not be the case.
Associations for Students
Even though you may be fully engaged with your academic work, you can enhance that growth and development with membership in an association designed specifically for students. You can also join a professional association that offers memberships for college students. There are many benefits to such memberships.
For instance, many associations offer additional educational materials and more for members. You might be interested in the webinars they provide or the periodicals that you will have access to as a member. Members can often review a larger number of archived webinars, but there may also be a few available to non-members.
Most associations have a magazine available to members and newsletters that come to your email on a regular basis. These materials will enrich your professional life in numerous ways. You might find information geared directly to your classroom work which will inspire new projects or an independent study course.
Lastly, membership in an association will provide you with a larger community of professionals with whom you can compare notes, discuss new best practices, and discover how to address larger issues with students, such as public health concerns or disturbing news items.
- National Education Association:
This is probably the largest and most well-known education association in the nation. They offer teachers advocacy in the legislature, loads of periodicals, and national conferences, among other resources. They even provide grants for research and educational materials.
- Association of American Educators:
Students can reap many benefits from membership in the AAE, including insurance, newsletters, professional resources, and member discounts. There are also state chapters to help you engage at the local level. Check their website to see if there's a chapter in your state.
- American Association of School Administrators:
For those who aspire to work in the front office, the AASA is there during your student years. You can use your membership to find electronic journals, newsletters, books, and more resources that will inform you of current trends in your profession as well as news from the field.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals:
When you are focused on serving our younger students, you should initiate a membership in the NAESP in your student years. You can get a head start on your career with their resources including webinars, a career center, and even loads of discounts on things like travel and electronics.
- American Association of School Personnel Administrators:
Membership in the AASPA has plenty of benefits including an annual conference, a diversity summit, HCLE certification, and more. You'll also love their journals Best Practices and Perspectives, the HR Focus newsletter, and archived webinars that you can peruse between classroom assignments.
Student or Open Access Journals
Professional journals are a vital part of being an educator. When you subscribe to and read multiple periodicals, including electronic newsletters and blogs, you will have your finger on the pulse of your profession. Your commitment to learning will pay off in terms of added insights into your academic work and a sense of preparation that is hard to get otherwise.
Education and Teacher Study Resources
Online learning is also an increasingly vital part of becoming an educator. While your school courses will help you prepare for the classroom, your learning will only be enhanced when you plug into additional learning materials. These resources might provide added insights into your chosen profession and they can even help you master difficult concepts when they are approached in a slightly different manner.
- The ASCD on Classroom Management:
This handy run-down of classroom management will enhance your understanding of the concepts involved and may even help you manage your very first classroom.
- A Curriculum Development Guide from Connecticut:
This document will come in handy when you study curriculum development as part of your education. You might want to download and print the guide and even share it with any study group members.
- The Dept. of Health and Human Resources Guide to Child Development:
This guide is created for parents and providers, such as yourself. You'll need to take Human Development (or a similarly named course) to qualify for licensure, so this government resource will be invaluable.
- The National Center for Learning Disabilities:
If your specialty is Special Education, you'll want to learn more about this organization and how they can help you learn and grow as a SPED teacher.
- Exceptional Child:
This website provides supplemental coursework for students and active professionals alike. When you are in the classroom, their courses will count towards your much-needed CEUs and they will benefit the students you care for as well.
There's an app for everything, or so the saying goes. There are even apps for teachers that can make their lives easier and which will facilitate better learning for yourself and your future students. Since you can easily install these apps on your smartphone or tablet device, whether iOS or Android, they'll always be at your fingertips.
- Google Classroom:
Google is there to help you find, well, every sort of information in the world. Google is also there to help you track individual students and whole classrooms. You can access this app on a mobile device or even a desktop computer.
You'll want to stay in touch with both students and parents outside of classroom hours. This app facilitates discreet conversations and can even translate for non-English-speaking students or parents.
When you take classroom management, you might want to download this to see how it can help you manage the administrative aspects of CM such as attendance, grades, and more.
As a student and when doing general research on the internet, you likely come across many websites and articles that you don't have time to fully explore. Pocket is a convenient app that lets you save information and even tag it with relevant keywords for easy retrieval later. Your next term paper will thank you.
Before you become the teacher, you must first manage being a student. This app helps you organize assignments, tests, extra-curricular activities, and whatever else student life sends your way.
Education majors typically complete student teaching rather than internships, and this is a typical part of any teacher-preparation program. In fact, your Board of Education probably requires some form of experiential learning course before they bestow a license upon you. Thus, your program will probably have a list of schools or teachers who will be happy to have you come and take over a classroom for a few weeks.
The experience typically involves you finding a mentor in a school whose classroom is aligned with your specialty area, such as special education. You'll also have a campus instructor with whom you can confer and who will receive your assigned work. At the end of the course, you will typically end up with a portfolio of lessons, graded papers, and more.
You might also look into other opportunities to teach and lead youngsters. During your summer months you might be a camp counselor, coach a pee-wee soccer league, or even work in a preschool. The more experience you gain as a leader and an instructor will benefit you greatly in years to come.
Resources for Students and Professionals
When you decided to become a teacher you probably had an idea of what grades or age groups you wanted to work with. You also likely have some natural inclinations towards certain subjects, such as math or social studies. Those intuitions and proclivities will help you determine exactly what license you'd like to pursue.
While aspiring elementary school teachers will be tested across a range of subjects, middle and high school teachers will be tested based on specific academic subject areas. Special education teachers also have tests meant specifically for them. Some states have SPED tests that cover sign language, behavior disorders, and more. As you work through your college degree, your education department will surely have more specifics based on your state's requirements.
Once you are licensed and teaching, you may find that you would like to transition to a different subject. The transition is often a two-step process involving a subject area test and some practical classroom experience. However, some states may have additional requirements based on specific licenses. That means you might need additional coursework, if not a master's degree.
Some of your licensure options include, but are not limited to:
- English as a Second Language
- Special Education
- Language Arts Education
- Social Studies Education
- Science Education
- Mathematics Education
- Gifted Education
- Vocational Education
- Elementary Education
- Middle Grades Education
- Secondary Education
- Physical Education
- Music Education
Sometimes landing that first job fresh out of law school can be a challenge, especially if you’re in a smaller market or want to work in a specific area of law. For those struggling to land a job, temp agencies can be of assistance. There are several temp agencies that either specialize in law, or work with clients large enough to need people in a variety of areas including their legal departments. Here is a list of some of the more popular and successful temp agencies for those seeking positions in the legal field.
When you're just starting out as a teacher, it might be difficult to land a full-time classroom position. However, there are options available for educators. First and foremost, your local school district often has temporary positions available in the form of substitute teaching. Subbing is a great way to experience a wide range of schools and classrooms, discover how seasoned professionals manage their classrooms, and you may even form a network of teachers who may become lifelong friends and colleagues. Note that every school district has its own requirements for substitute teachers. Some go so far as to require a full teaching license. Most, however, require a college degree and perhaps an orientation or training course. Contact your local school district for their requirements.
Resources for Education Professionals
Professional associations are a vital part of any educator's life. And though they do require you pay for your membership, they can greatly enhance your professional life. You'll be exposed to an endless stream of vital information about education on the state and national level, classroom resources, and the association may even advocate for the profession in Washington, DC.
Since your teaching credentials must be maintained and developed over time, associations often provide webinars and even classroom opportunities to complete your required continuing education units. You might even find that their national conferences are packed with workshops and other CEU opportunities.
Associations also provide employment resources via proprietary job boards and you might find that their newsletters and journals inspire you to pursue a new form of teaching license. The association may even have a scholarship fund to help you achieve that goal.
Just as you advocate for your students to be a part of their learning community, so should you be a part of your educator community.
To keep your mind fresh regarding your profession's best practices, plus knowledge of cutting-edge research, you should make a habit of reading journals geared towards your field. Education journals will provide an abundance of information that you can apply in the classroom or which will be pertinent to your outlook as a professional in a public career. Many are available online and may even come as newsletters to your email address. There are surely others that still have a print component to give your eyes a rest from gazing at screens all day.
Industry Conferences for Educators
Conferences present a unique opportunity to get out of town and spend a few days, if not a week, learning and growing with fellow educators. Most conferences offer opportunities to earn CEUs for your license and they also put you in contact with educators from all over the nation. Conferences offer educators a chance to reflect on their profession and gain a new perspective. Peruse the list below or look online to find one or two that you'd like to attend. You can only become a better teacher as a result.
- Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference:
Here, you can mix and mingle with like-minded education professionals. These annual weekends include workshops, exhibitors, and keynote speakers.
- National Education Association (NEA) Leadership Summit:
This conference will inspire your professional life for years to come. The conference promotes a unified and interdisciplinary approach to leadership which you can pass on to future generations.
- National Education Association: (NEA) Conference on Racial and Social Justice:
Since these issues are still relevant, the NEA still has a conference to help educators develop solutions for the inequities rife throughout education and society at large.
- National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly:
You might become active with the NEA and attend this annual meeting as one of 8,000 delegates to the national body. This is another example of a benefit available when you join a national association.