the word teach on wooden dice on a desk with books in the background

Becoming a high school teacher is not an easy task. It requires years of dedication, classroom experience, and hard work, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Getting into this profession is not for everyone, and some aspiring high school teachers may find it to be quite tricky. However, for those who believe they can make a difference and want to be part of the educational system, then it will be something they look back on fondly at completing.

If you’re thinking about starting off your teaching career and learning how to become a high school teacher, here’s what you need to know to get that ball rolling on your new path.

pencils and books on a desk

Being passionate about what you do

First and foremost, you need to have a passion for teaching and starting a teaching career. High school teachers have the unique opportunity to shape the minds of young adults, and it’s a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. If you’re not passionate about teaching, it’s likely that you won’t be successful in the role.

Caring for your students

A high school teacher is someone who will come up against a lot during their years, they are dealing with students who are truly beginning their journey into young adulthood and there is a lot of pressure on them to get through this period in their lives, so sometimes the teacher can not only be their leader but their sounding board too.

How can they show this care?

There are ways that teachers can show they support and have concerns about what their students are doing, for example, greatergood.berkeley.edu offers four ways in which teachers can show they want what’s best for their students.

  1. Get to know the students individually
  2. Actively listen to students
  3. Ask for their feedback
  4. Reflect on your own experiences with caring

Thinking about these ways can help a teacher see the importance of connecting with their students. A passion for teaching can facilitate this in a proactive way. If grades are slipping or they are abnormally acting out, a good teacher will note this and see what they can do to get the student back on the right path.

student and teacher

Teaching qualifications

You need to have the appropriate educational qualifications to be a teacher. In most cases, this means completing a four-year bachelor’s degree in education from an accredited college/university. There are also alternative routes to becoming a high school teacher, such as completing a graduate degree in education or obtaining a teaching certification.

High school teacher or elementary school teacher?

When taking secondary education programs to become a high school teacher you need to, first of all, make sure this is the right teaching job you want to go for, as you may also want to look into what elementary school teachers and middle school teachers do just in case they suit your plans better.

Steps to becoming a high school teacher

There are a few ways to become a teacher, and it generally changes depending on the state you are in or which sector of education you are planning on going into, however, there are steps that will mostly be stuck to with informational websites such as Teacher Certification Degrees offering up the common steps taken –

  1. Earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach.
  2. Completing a teacher preparation program with your school (will normally be done alongside the bachelor’s degree).
  3. Complete one of the student teaching internships with the subject you want to teach, or subjects if you want to do multiple.
  4. Taking the teacher and subject area tests for teacher licensure in your state.
  5. Apply for your teaching license.
  6. Finally, apply for positions that are open within your chosen field.

Additional information

As mentioned above, it is important for aspiring high school teachers who want a teacher certification to take a teacher preparation program in addition to earning their major with their bachelor’s degree, as it is a state-approved course of study that will meet all the requirements and training necessary to teach. This is an important factor and must not be overlooked.

Prospective high school teachers will also need to go through a background check, so be aware that no matter where you teach, whether that is elementary education or high school, checks will need to be done to ensure you are safe to be around children.

Master’s degree

It is important that all teachers have a minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree to teach high school students or any level of student education, however, some states may ask for teachers to complete a master’s degree within a certain amount of time after they finish their bachelor’s degree and any other qualifications.

books and mortarboard hat in a library

How to prepare for your exams

Taking any exam can be a stressful experience, even more so when it is about your career. The most well-prepared people can even find it hard, so it is important to remember what to do before taking your exams.

Study

You know when your test will be so studying is your main priority here. Take out all of your textbooks and notes, and go over them again and again. Highlight key points that you know will come up. Ask friends and family to quiz you so you know the answers backward and forward.

Take practice tests

With every subject, there will be practice materials that can help aspiring teachers with their upcoming exams as well as understanding the layout of how it may be. You can time yourself in test conditions to see how you fare.

Knowing how the tests are scored

In every exam, some questions have more points than others, so it is worth knowing what type of questions those will be, especially as time is a factor. You do not want to run out of time and find out that you have not been able to do most of the high point questions. The test publisher should put out the scoring system for you to look at.

Take a moment

Your exams are important and you want to become a high school teacher. You have taken part in teacher training, built on your teaching skills, and you want to become a fully certified teacher. You can do this. Take a deep breath and think about why you are doing this in the first place.

exam room table with a test on

Classroom experience

It is essential to also note that many high school teachers begin their careers as substitute teachers or teaching assistants. This is a great way to get your feet wet and see if teaching is the right career for you. Experience is always needed in professions like this to see if being able to teach high school is the right fit.

You can dip your toes into multiple subjects and get a feel for what the job outlook is in different locations. You will be able to see how lesson planning is put together as well as gain a more in depth knowledge of your chosen subject area as you build on your experience. It all adds up to becoming a great and attentive teacher.

Dedication to the craft

Finally, you need to be dedicated to your students. High school teachers often work long hours outside of the classroom, preparing lessons and grading papers. They also need to be available to their students before and after school for extra help. If you’re not dedicated to your students, it’s likely that you won’t be successful in the role.

Developing your skills

As time goes on you will get into a pattern of doing things that will help develop your skills and potentially get you to think about the next steps in your career, whether that is going for advanced degrees to teach higher education, or changing from public school to private school.

As long as you show dedication to your career and you maintain quality in your teaching, you could have a beneficial and positive career as a teacher.

cork board with paper arrows on saying learn, new, and skills

Conclusion

If you have a passion for teaching and the appropriate qualifications, becoming a high school teacher can be a rewarding experience. It’s a challenging career, but worth it for those who really want to be a high school teacher.

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