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Career Information: Teacher

— U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Updated on Mar 13, 2010

What is this job like? 

Teachers teach children to read, write, do math, and much more. They use games, videos, computers, and other tools to teach children different subjects.

Teachers show students skills. They also explain information. Teachers plan their lessons before they teach. Planning takes a lot of time.

Teachers try to make their lessons easy to understand. They teach things in different ways so that different students can learn in the way that is easiest for them. Teachers might use a chalkboard, a projector, or a computer. They make posters or worksheets before class starts. Teachers plan the schedule for the day. Most teachers have to teach what the principal tells them.

Teachers also assign homework and class projects. They often have students work together to do projects. When students are not doing as well as they should, teachers help them.

After class, teachers grade papers and projects. They also make tests. They write students' report cards. And they meet with parents to try to help their children do better in school. Teachers sometimes go to workshops to learn how to teach better. Some teachers also help with sports or other after-school activities.

Most kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach several subjects to one class of children. In some schools, two or more teachers work as a team. Other teachers teach one special subject, such as art, music, reading, or gym.

Most middle school and high school teachers focus on one subject. They might teach English, science, or history, for example. Some teach students how to do a job. High school teachers spend more time explaining a subject and less time with activities like games.

Teachers work with students of many different cultures. Some students were born in the United States, and some were not. Teachers learn about different cultures so that they can help students better.

Teachers like to see children learn. But sometimes teaching lots of students can be stressful. Teachers also have to deal with children who misbehave.

Many teachers work more than 40 hours a week. Most go on vacation during the summer. Sometimes, they teach in summer school. Some take another job. Some go to college to learn more about teaching.

How do you get ready?  

All teachers in public schools must have a teaching certificate, which is a license to teach. Some teachers are licensed to teach preschool through grade 3. Others are licensed to teach grades 1 through 6 or 8. Some are licensed to teach middle school or high school. Some have a license to teach a special subject.

You must have a college degree to be a teacher, unless you are teaching a job skill like how to fix cars. You must take classes in education and practice teaching with the help of an experienced teacher.

To be a teacher, you must pass tests in reading, writing, and other subjects. And you have to keep learning. In some States, you have to get a master's degree. You also need computer training in some States.

Teachers must be able to talk to children and be good leaders. The students must trust them. Teachers must be able to make students want to learn. They also should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative.

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