A teaching degree is often earned right out of high school. An individual might teach for two, three…maybe even ten or more years-then life intervenes. Perhaps a teacher has children and decides to stay home with them. Maybe an illness causes absence from the classroom. Some teachers take time off to pursue graduate degrees.
Occasionally, the confidence required to tackle the job simply might not yet have been developed. But now it’s time to go back to school. Are you in this boat? If so, stay confident. Some of my most competent colleagues in education were those who re-entered the teaching profession after a hiatus. Keep the following tips in mind if you plan to cross the threshold back into the teaching force.
1. Don’t underestimate your worth to the profession. Your work experience and skills are valuable. You will not be viewed as a ‘beginning teacher’. On the contrary, your peers will welcome your know-how.
2. Investigate the licensing and certification requirements in your state. Contact your state’s Department of Education. Things may have changed since you were last in the classroom. Find out whether you will be required to take skill assessment exams designed for teachers.
3. Talk to current teachers. Inquire about the latest educational ‘buzz words’. You may feel more self-assured when you get back into teaching if you take a couple refresher courses in those areas.
4. Visit some local classrooms. Ask the teachers to show you the computer programs they’re required to use for such items as attendance, progress reports, and grading. Ask if they integrate technology, such as ‘smart boards’ into their program. Just being exposed to the latest inventions will give you a boost of confidence.
5. Update your resume. Be sure to let your professional references know that you are going back to work as a teacher. Casually mention-just to jog their memories-some of the accomplishments you experienced while working for them.
6. Put together a portfolio delineating highlights of your career. Click here for portfolio ideas from Duquesne University. Keep in mind that being without a portfolio isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
7. Prepare for interviews. Look at the school’s website. Peruse their demographics, policies, and handbook. Download the curriculum standards for your desired subject and grade level. This information is generally easily accessible online to anyone since schools want to keep parents in the loop.
8. Substitute-teach or volunteer at various schools, if possible, before you get back into teaching. You will get to know the faculty and the administration. This will ensure that you have the inside scoop on positions that are opening.
9. Plan on how you will organize your routine once you’re hired. If you have children, it’s a little trickier. Discuss needs with your family. Perhaps you will decide to get to school early or stay late. Use your time at school wisely.
10. Give yourself a pat on the back for deciding to become a teacher once again. You might just find that this fulfillment carries over to other aspects of your life. You might even have a happier, more relaxed family life.
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