Nov 042013

Although I’ve wanted to be a teacher for a very long time, I wasn’t ever really drawn to the idea of being a classroom teacher. However, the president has been talking about becoming a more educated nation, which of course means we will need more teachers. Perhaps it’s time to consider classroom teaching after all.

I started looking for information on how to become a teacher. You know what I found? A lot of state by state breakdowns on getting a certification. Honestly, this frustrated me. Not knowing anything about being a teacher, I didn’t know where teacher certification fits in.

Maybe I’m being naive, but I can’t really be the only one out there who is confused by this as well.

What is teacher certification?

No matter where you want to teach, every school system has requirements they want their teachers to meet. When teachers meet these requirements, they can apply for certification.

Like a diploma or degree, a teaching certificate is evidence of having done all the preliminary work required to learn how to teach. However, also like a diploma or degree, it’s not the final step in becoming a teacher.

Why get certified?

If you want to teach in a classroom in a school in the United States, you will need some kind of certification. The exceptions to this are:

  1. Some private or parochial (religious) schools do not require their teachers to be certified.
  2. You may be able to get a substitute teacher position without a certificate. However, a certificate will certainly help.

Also, schools need to comply with the federal program: No Child Left Behind. Part of that program requires teachers to be highly qualified. One aspect of the “highly qualified” definition is teacher certification.

Ok, so certification is pretty much a given. No way around it if you want to be a classroom teacher. Well, then there must be a list somewhere of what you need right? Yes, but it’s state specific. See, it turns out that teacher certification is governed by state law, not federal law. At least that explains why my searches turned up state by state breakdowns.

BUT – don’t run off yet. When I went to look for information on my state, I quickly got overwhelmed. I was still trying to get a general idea of how to become a teacher and was already swimming in too much information. Through my research, I’ve been able to come up with a general list. If you are like me, and wondering just what you would be getting yourself into, the following information should provide a good overview of what you need.

The First Step To Getting Certified

It doesn’t matter where or at what level you want to teach, you’re going to need a Bachelor’s degree. A Master’s is even better.

From what I could find out, a Master’s isn’t required for certification most places, but even so, just about all school systems expect you to get one shortly after beginning to teach, if you don’t have one already.

But then other questions come to mind:

1. What major?
2. What if I already have a degree, but wasn’t planning on being a teacher when I earned it?
3. Would I have to go back to get a second degree? I went to college with a guy who was doing that. His first degree was in Political Science, but in order to take his career in the direction he wanted, he needed a (second) degree in Biology. Surely becoming a teacher wouldn’t require a second degree, would it?

These questions deserve an in depth review of their own. Please let me know in the comments if you would like to see an article about education requirements.

So, now you’ve got the education down, what next?

Student teacher experience. Also referred to as “Teacher Training”, “Teacher Education”, or “Teacher Preparation”, it all comes down to mandatory classroom experience.  Fortunately, this is built into getting your degree. There are also numerous programs specifically to help you get certified if for some reason (such as a career switcher) you didn’t do this part when you earned your degree originally.

Anything else?

Yes – one more general requirement. A test. This may be one specific to the state, or an exam called the Praxis Series™. From their website: The Praxis Series™ tests measure teacher candidates’ knowledge and skills.

At this point, it comes down to individual state requirements. Which raises the question:

Aare there major differences between the states in becoming a teacher?

The good news is that there aren’t major differences. You can wipe your brow now. However, there are important differences. One of these is that some states require a specific number of undergraduate credits in order to be certified. Following is a list of those that do:

  1. Alabama
  2. Connecticut
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Florida
  5. Idaho
  6. Illinois
  7. Iowa
  8. Kentucky
  9. Louisiana
  10. Missouri
  11. Montana
  12. Nevada
  13. New Jersey
  14. New Mexico
  15. New York
  16. North Carolina
  17. North Dakota
  18. Ohio
  19. Utah
  20. Virginia

As you can see, it really does matter which state you want to get your teaching certification in. In order to get the best information on getting certified in your state, you should go to the website for the department of education in your state.

So, now I know a little bit more about what’s involved in becoming a teacher. I have lots of work ahead of me if I decide to go this route. I hope the preceding information was helpful to you as well.

Nov 042013

The first thing you need to do to become a teacher? Don’t Panic! Ok, got your towel ready?1 Then, let’s proceed to the more nitty gritty details of becoming a teacher.

If you’ve done any research at all, then you know that the road to becoming at teacher usually starts in college. You also know that what degrees you need and what other requirements you have to meet vary from state to state. Not real helpful, huh? You just want the bottom line, right?

Well, the bottom line is that there are many ways to become a teacher that don’t involve tons of school. But…many of them don’t pay very much, or at all (in cold hard cash, anyway). So, if you want to get paid to be a teacher then put on your thinking cap because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in school as a student.

Maybe I’ve peaked you interest? Maybe I’ve got you worried again? Remember – don’t panic. You can get there.

Just as you must prepare lesson plans once you become a teacher, you must prepare a plan to get to being a teacher. This rest of this article will go into more details about that, as well as get back to those unpaid teaching jobs.

1. Before you look at colleges, accredidation programs, or the teaching requirements in your state, make sure that you really want to be a teacher. At one time, I really, really wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jacques Cousteau. I kept the image of the wind in my hair and the waves under the boat in my mind as I tackled four years of undergraduate studies. The further I got in my studies, the fainter that vision become. By the time I walked across the stage to recieve my Bachelors Degree, I was done with school. Yet, if I wanted to become a marine biologist – there was at least 5 more years of school ahead of me. Because I learned that to get to where I invisioned myself going, I needed a PhD. Yikes!

While most states don’t require a PhD to be a teacher, many require a Masters. And, if you want to teach at the graduate level – gear up for that PhD. Many, many people become teachers every year, but they really, really want it. And that desire stays firm no matter what hardships come their way.

If you are sure that you really, really want to be a teacher, make sure that you keep your reasons in mind. For inspiration on why you may want to be a teacher, please check out (my previous article).

2. So, you know that you want to be a teacher. What next? The next step is not to go looking at colleges. The next step is to get some experience teaching to be sure if you even like it in practice.

I know that sounds like the old merry-go-round: you can’t get the job because you don’t have experience, but you can’t get experience without the job. That’s where those low or no paying jobs come in.

Look around and see where you can get a job teaching at the level you want. Think outside the box and you’ll find lots of ideas. Here are some to get you started:

  1. Sunday/Bible School
  2. Summer camp
  3. Cub/Boy Scounts
  4. Girl Scouts
  5. Volunteer at your children’s school
  6. Create a one day program for kids (or adults) through a club you belong to; anyone who considers themselves a novice would enjoy a well taught introduction. This could be a gun club, classic car club, book club, etc.
  7. Volunteer to help with programs at your local library.
  8. Check out volunteer programs at museums, zoos, aquariums, theme parks.
  9. Do you know an area particularly well? Could you give tours? That’s also a kind of teaching.
  10. Tutor
  11. Coach a sports team

Not only will doing one or more of these activities get you a taste of what teaching is like, you’ll also be able to practice your passion while you’re doing all the other things that you need to do to become a teacher. Some of the suggestions above are certainly not in a traditional classroom, yet they still give you practice with leading groups of people in a structured environment (even a day hike has a structure). Many also give you experience creating lesson plans, even if minimal.

Now that you know for sure that you want to be a teacher, you’ve got your reasons, and you have some experience (or will get some soon) it’s time to talk about actually becoming a teacher. For which you will need a teaching certificate. Read more about that in this article: How To Become A Teacher – Teacher Certification

  1. Reference to: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Apr 052012

It’s difficult as an adult to stand by and watch any teenager suffer through the problem of acne. It can be a devastating condition that makes going to high school unbearable if it’s serious enough. Teenagers are already going through a variety of hardships and it certainly doesn’t help when they have such a notable problem on their face. The good news is there are more options in terms of acne treatment than ever, and you can play a big role in helping a student to figure out what to do.

It’s the job of a parent to guide a child towards proper treatment methods in addition to paying for them when necessary. They can also provide a great deal of emotional support which is an often neglected aspect of acne care. If left untreated, acne can lead to depression for teens who don’t have anyone to turn to for help.

So what can a teacher do to help?

You don’t necessarily need to educate yourself to the point where you become an expert on acne. While teens would certainly appreciate helpful tips and tricks, sometimes the situation needs a professional point of view. It’s far better for you talk with parents first to see if you can help. It can be a delicate situation so you need to gauge carefully whether it would be appropriate to get involved at all. But if a student approaches you directly, then it makes it a lot easier.

You can suggest to parents and teens the benefits of arranging an appointment with a dermatologist after getting a referral from a general physician. Seeing a dermatologist might seem like a drastic step, but sometimes it helps to cut right to the heart of the matter so that teens don’t waste any time or money. It’s also a better option than trying to recommend specific products because everybody’s skin is different and you never know what will actually work. Trying to put together an adequate acne treatment plan for a teenager can be hit or miss, so it’s better to leave it to the experts.

Some teenagers may feel a bit apprehensive since it can be intimidating to see a skin doctor, but you can rest assured that most teens feel comforted afterwards, and especially when they get access to effective prescription medications. Good dermatologists will be able to talk with teenagers and discuss the problem openly. A teen will be able to learn more about their condition, bad habits to avoid, and what to do from now on.

When dealing with how to get rid of acne, it’s important to keep an eye on your child’s mental state. Teens can get down on themselves for a variety of reasons, and bad skin certainly won’t help things. Teens have a tendency to blame themselves for blemishes, even though it might not have anything to do with hygiene habits in their particular case. Sometimes acne is a deeper genetic problem where hereditary and biological factors come into play. If you have experienced acne problems yourself, then one of the best things you can do is to share your personal story so that your teenager doesn’t feel alone. You can play an incredibly important role in helping a student to get clear skin and feel like a normal person again.

Mar 232012

There are ways to teach that don’t require formal education. Every parent knows they don’t need any kind of college degree to teach their children manners. However, the phrase “become a teacher” generally brings to mind a traditional school system.

If you want to become a teacher in a traditional school system, there is advanced education you will need. I will write about this topic in a future post. But, for now, I want to focus on reasons why you want to pursue this career. And, as you pursue that advanced education, you can keep these motivations in mind to help you get through the hard times.

So, why become a teacher?

1. Because…you want to share you passion for a topic. Good teachers have a passion for their topic that comes through. Even before they become teachers, they have immersed themselves in the topic. They may have books on it, taken classes for fun, have hobbies that deal with that topic. They may talk about it with their friends. In short, even if they don’t teach the topic, they would still have it as a significant part of their lives.

J is for Joy
Creative Commons License photo credit: susivinh

But, the second part of this is the desire to share that passion. This is important. There are three topics I consider a significant part of my life: Phantom of the Opera, tarot, and writing. However, I do not teach these topics in any way. For the most part, I consider these to be something I do on my own. Sure, I talk about them with my friends. When I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera I haven’t gone alone. My husband also enjoys reading tarot and we both write. Yet, that is the extent of my sharing. While these topics are passions for me, they aren’t passions that I want to share.

To be a good teacher you must love the subject you teach.

2. Because…you have a passion for sharing information to large groups of people. This is very closely related to number 1, but it’s slightly different. With the first reason, the emphasis is on a particular topic that you wish to share. With this second reason, the focus in on the sharing itself.

For example: You love math. You think math is cool and you want to tell all your friends about it. You try to get your kids involved in math. You talk you friends into going with you to a math exhibit at the science center. You’re sharing you passion.  But, do you want to get up in front of a group and talk about math? Maybe you do, or maybe you would rather keep it at the level of your friends.

To be a good teacher you must feel passion for sharing with large groups of people – whether this is to a class of children, or in a college class. You have to want to share on a large scale.

3. Because…you love that feeling of helping someone experience the wonder of learning something new. There’s nothing like the feeling of finally understanding something that you have struggled with. Or, reading something and saying “I didn’t know that,” and realizing you had been looking at a situation all wrong.

Better yet, is when you share that knowledge with someone else and they have the same “Ah-ha!” moment. Being a teacher means you get to see this on a regular basis. If you want to be a part of that, then you may want to be a teacher.

To be a good teacher, you must love helping others learn.

4. Because…you like your students. This can apply to individual students, but they will pass on when the class is over. This is more “I like children.” But, keep in mind that not all teachers teach children. You may be a college professor, or teach an adult literary class. You may be the instructor at the NRA safety class. This last example, while not in the traditional classroom setting, certainly qualifies as being a teacher. And, when I took that class, every student was an adult.

To be a good teacher, you must like people and spending significant time with them.

5. Because…you like connecting one on one with people. On the flip side, a teacher must spend time giving individual attention to students. Depending on the class, this time may be short. However, a good teacher spends time with each student – they don’t skip those they don’t like very well. While it’s impossible to like everyone equally, after all we are only human, it’s necessary to connect with everyone in your class.

To be a good teacher, you must like interacting one on one with all different types of people.

6. Because…you want to pay forward the thanks to a teacher from your past. Teachers gifts are ways to thank an important teacher in your life. And, teachers enjoy getting these gifts. But, by becoming a teacher yourself you spread that thanks further. You may never know which students consider you their best teacher. You may never know if you inspire any of them to become teachers. Ultimately, that’s not important.

To be a good teacher you must want to be part of a legacy of teaching. You can honor the teachers you admired and do your best to be the same kind of teacher to your students.

Which brings me to a reason many may be thinking: I want to make a difference in the world.

The problem with this reason is: it’s too general. How are you going to make a difference? Simply becoming a teacher won’t make a difference. If you are a lousy teacher, you’ll make a difference, but not the one you want. What I think people are expressing with this phrase are the following reasons:

7. Because…you want to be part of making education better. The best way to improve a system is by being part of the system. There are problems throughout school systems. Some are better than others, but even the good ones can be improved. From the outside you may have ideas on how things could be done better, but by becoming a teacher in your chosen school system, you have the chance to understand the problems better. You also have the chance to make your voice heard clearer, since you coming from the trenches, so’s to speak.

To be a good teacher, you must be willing to fight to improve education.

8. Because…you what to make education more accessible to more people. A more educated population comes from more people being educated. And, the more teachers there are to teach, the more people who can be taught. This may sound obvious, but it’s profound. If you believe that education is important and believe that if more people were educated your society would improve, then becoming a teacher is a good way to further that cause.

To be a good teacher, you must believe that it is important for everyone to get a chance at a good education.

9. Because…you want to improve the quality of knowledge that people have. This can also be stated: because…you want to spread correct information as well as clear up misconceptions and plain wrong thinking. (As much as possible, anyway.) There are two parts to this. First, there is a lot of facts that people don’t know and this lack of knowledge negatively affects the actions they take. Second, many people don’t understand how the world works because they didn’t get a good foundation of knowledge. Both of these states are ones that teachers help to solve. Teachers impart knowledge directly to their students, giving them the facts they need to make informed decisions. Teachers also provide knowledge on a broad range of subjects, giving people a general overview of how things works.

To be a good teacher, you must value providing accurate, and thorough information.

10. Because…you can’t not teach. I saved what may be the most important reason for last. There are many opportunities in our lives to be a teacher on a small scale. This may be showing a child how to do something, having an in depth discussion with a friend, or helping a coworker to use a new program. But, to be a teacher on a large scale, with structured classes, requires a large commitment. Some might even call teaching a vocation, similar to becoming a member of the clergy. All the reasons stated above contribute to an overall feeling of needing to be a teacher and not stopping until you find some way to be one.

In summary: To be a good teacher, you must have passion, desire, and belief in educating for the future. You may not have ALL the reasons above to be a teacher, but if you must have at least those three.

Mar 152012

This is a guest post by Nik @Career_Journey who is a coach who provides business and Career Coaching services. Nik has been laid off multiple times and now has his own coaching practice. He has a positive outlook on life and is always willing to help his next client on the way to a successful Career Change.

It is fair to say that the past 5 years have been extremely hard on the UK economy and as a result many people are struggling to cope, having either lost their jobs and are struggling to find new ones, or have had to take a significant decrease in salary.

With the downturn affecting many parents and teachers in this manner, it has been hard to keep inspiring students to go the extra mile and make sure that they do well at school. It is somewhat understandable to see the view from the children’s side of things, where they just feel that there’s no point in working hard, because their parents did – but now look what’s happened to them.

Advice for parents:

  • You must sit your child down and explain that the situation has not always been like this and things will improve and when they do, they need to be prepared.
  • You must enforce the idea that other students will continue to work hard and get better jobs as a result, meaning that your child will be left behind so they must try to outperform their peers.
  • Try and become more familiar with the latest work trends, in order to better connect with your child, for instance highlight exciting new areas that are up and coming, like Green jobs or mention places abroad that are attracting more UK citizens in order to fill exhilarating new roles.
  • Ensure that you know what your child enjoys and encourage them to continue studying those topics. Not only will this make their studying easier but they will appreciate it more and therefore work harder.
  • Offer to go into your child’s school and give talks about your experiences. Whilst your child may not be willing to sit down and listen to you, there will be other children who benefit from your experience and you will inspire them. You then need to try and get other parents in to school who might be able to inspire your child in return.

Advice for teachers:

  • Encourage new technology into the classroom. Not only will this encourage the students to take an interest in technology but you will find that they become more innovative and excited as they get to show you what they can do with the new technology.
  • Try and connect your subjects with the modern world. For instance, use relevant examples, such as in Math – “If you have 500 Facebook friends and 225 of those friends use twitter, what percentage of your friends do not use twitter?” In IT lessons, you could refer to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook business model, or ask your students to create an mobile App.
  • Try and have fun with your student, studying does not have to be serious, so find interesting but perhaps silly subjects that your students can have a laugh with.
  • Be passionate about what you are teaching, as your passion will rub off on your students. All students would agree that trying to learn from a teacher who obviously does not want to be there is the least inspiring thing in the world.
  • Teach and focus on their understanding of a subject. The majority of the time, when students are not inspired or interested, it is because they don’t actually understand the subject, but won’t say so because they are scared of looking stupid in front of friends.
  • Ensure you portray you kindness, trustworthiness and openness. You need to let your students feel that they can come to you for help about anything and act as a mentor as well as a teacher. Let them know that you will not let on to their peers that they are struggling and having extra help.

Whilst we can empathise with the views that many students express, we do not have to accept them. Instead we must just all try harder, in these difficult times, to ensure that we keep inspiring students to go the extra mile.

Mar 122012

From having fun at the playground to resuming outdoor sports, warmer weather leads to happier children. Outdoor settings make almost every activity more fun, and that is especially true when it comes to one topic that frequently makes children groan with disappointment: education. Kids tend to associate learning with textbooks and pop quizzes, and while standard educational materials are important, so are the games that make learning fun. How can you make children have fun while learning? Simply combine the age old love of picnics with educational games, and kids will not be able to resist having fun while they learn!

You can treat children to an outdoor lunch or plan a whole day outdoors. Educational picnic games can be long or short. You can tailor picnic activities to meet your schedule and your surroundings. Just pick your location, bring along some food, and gather any materials you may need for the games you choose to play. With the following suggestions, your students will learn how fun education can be.

Natural Art Collage

Complete Handbook of Indoor and Outdoor Games and Activities for Young Children
This is a fun and easy picnic activity that elementary children will enjoy. When you set off on your picnic, bring a large piece of poster board, glue, and tape. Have each child roam the surrounding area and bring back an item that interests them. Children may return with a pretty leaf, an acorn, a stick, a rock, or any other item that caught their eye. When all the students find their item, have them sit by the poster board. Have each child stand up and say why that item was interesting and then help secure the item to the poster board. At the end of your picnic you will have a memorable item to display in the class and students will gain an appreciation for nature.

Going on a Picnic

We’ve all played the traditional Going on a Picnic game. Why not play it while you’re actually at a picnic? Have your students sit in a large circle and explain the rules of the game. You can either choose a child to start or begin the game on a silly note. If you choose the latter option, stand in the center of the circle and spin around with your eyes shut while the children count down from ten. When they reach the final number, point your finger at the student in front of you. That child will start the game and the rest of the class will be in a playful mood from seeing their teacher act like one of the students.

The first child begins by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a _______.” Have the child fill in the blank with a word that begins with the letter ‘A.’ The next child repeats what the first child says and adds in an item that begins with the letter ‘B.’ Each student repeats what came before and adds a word that begins with the next letter. As the game goes on, it becomes harder and harder to remember all the items. When a child breaks the chain, the game restarts with that student beginning with a new word that starts with the letter ‘A.’

Scaventure Kids
For a fun, educational twist, you can try adding themes to each round. You could tell children to use words that pertain to their spelling lists, vocabulary words, or a particular subject. Not only will children improve their memories, but they will also remember important lessons you are trying to teach them in the classroom.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Before your picnic, come up with a list of adjectives that could describe items your students would find in their picnic area. You could use words like “pointy,” “crunchy,” or “unique” to ensure each description would fit a variety of objects. Use higher or lower levels of vocabulary based on students’ ages. Split the children into teams of four to five students and give them all a copy of your list. Set a time limit and tell your students when to go. When the time is up, yell for your students to return. Have each group show their items and explain why they chose them. At the end of this activity, your students will realize how versatile words can be and how there are a lot of ways to interpret their surroundings.

There are tons of ways to help children learn the fun way by playing educational games at a picnic. Kids should know that learning is fun and a picnic is the perfect setting for them to learn that lesson firsthand. You can transform any game into an educational picnic activity. The only limit is your imagination – and imagination is one resource that comes naturally to every educator.

Mar 012012

Teaching, whether as a parent, a mentor or a professional, is the oldest task known to human beings. While methods and materials change and evolve over time, the basic premise is always the same: imparting new knowledge to fresh, keen minds.

In an age where electronics and extreme connectivity have altered the very landscape upon which we live, the tools available to teachers are many and one of the more popular methods of instructing in the modern world is the use of online teaching courses. Giving your students the ability to access learning materials from anywhere in the world and at any time, an online teaching course offers the boon of technology with the ease of a relaxed schedule in order to get the best out of both you and your students.

1. Choose your platform.

If you’re proficient with the necessary coding languages and want absolute control over your online teaching course’s environment, consider crafting things from scratch. If, on the other hand, you want to devote less time to setup and more time to the teaching materials themselves, a professional online course building tool is the way to go.

While there are many online teaching course builders to choose from, one that stands above the rest in popularity and usability is program, a web service that will serve as a demonstration of the points discussed here; no matter the platform you choose, the general ability to manipulate materials is similar.

2. Build and add your material.

Once you’ve chosen an environment in which to deliver learning material to your students, the more enjoyable task of building those materials is at hand. With the same ideals and intentions in mind that would guide you in teaching in a more traditional manner, weave information and helpful teaching points together with ease-of-use and the learning ability of your students in mind. It is also worth noting that most online teaching course services allow for the inclusion in your course of existing documents and media, enabling you to utilize pre-existing files in order to save time.

When your material is perfected and organized you can begin adding them in an intuitive way via the interface provided by your online teaching course service, building your course step-by-step and experimenting with each element as you progress.

3. Test, analyze and tweak.

Course completed, it’s now time to have your students double as guinea pigs. Deploy your course and make a point to observe and interact in order to determine, on a human level, any changes in material or tactics that may need to be made.

For a less human and more statistical approach to analyzing your online teaching course, test your students thoroughly to help you to identify any problem areas and to capitalize on your course’s strengths. Thorough testing will allow you to intelligently adapt your textual information, media and teaching approach to better serve those you are teaching. The ability to create and deploy tests to your students via an online training course is built-in to most platforms.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3.

Feb 282012

Recent statistics suggest that teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the country and has one of the highest job dissatisfaction ratings according to a New York Times. A poll conducted by the Health and Safety executive found that over 40% of teachers found themselves to be highly stressed and unhappy at work.

Due to these statistics it will come as no surprise that teaching has one of the highest employment turnover rates in America. In fact, 41% of newly qualified teachers will leave their job within 5 years. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Stress and Depression – Classrooms can be a high stress environment, especially if you are teaching high school children. These children have high energy and require constant individual attention. With over 20 students per class, this can be overwhelming.

2. Increased Workload – Over the years, the increasing number of student uptake has caused a larger number of students per class. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for teachers to spend their weekends and holidays grading papers and preparing new lesson plans. Unlike other jobs, delays in these duties have serious educational consequences. On average, teachers work 50 hours per week.

3. Reduced Pay – Pay cuts are common place among schools due to the costs of education. Some teachers may be working longer hours for the same or even a reduced salary from previous years.

4. Bullying – Schools are a melting pot of ethnicities, cultures and socio-economic differences. This lends itself to bullying among students and sometimes teachers may also be targeted. Student-teacher bullying is a major issue in schools that is often overlooked.

5. Violence – In some cases, bullying can leave to high levels of violence. Fights and acts of violence are not uncommon in schools and teachers may find themselves caught in a violent attack from students. Many schools such as those in New York have installed metal detectors and hired security guards to check students for weapons such as knives to combat this growing problem.

With these reasons in mind, it is no surprise that teachers find themselves resigning within 5 years of starting their new job. However, it should also be noted that among those 41% who leave within a couple of years, there is still 59% that are happy to continue employment which proves that, despite the negatives, some teachers do find happiness in teaching students.

Nevertheless, to make the job resignation process easier, teachers looking to leave should plan out their resignation letter so that there will be no unanswered questions about your leave. Resignation letter examples can help you to write an effective letter to explain your situation.

Feb 122012

Thanks for its flexible hours, online teaching is becoming a more popular career choice for those graduating from teaching education programs. What’s more, with the ever increasing popularity of online university degree programs, the demand for online teachers has exploded in recent years, and is projected to continue growing at a parabolic rate in the near future.

Becoming a successful online teacher, however, can be just as challenging (if not more so) as being a great teacher in a traditional brick and mortar setting. The challenge faced by online teachers is huge: how can you maintain discipline and effectively educate your students without ever being able to meet face to face with them?

Here are 5 suggestions for being a successful online teacher:

Be Extra Organized

Any kind of teaching requires organization, but as an online teacher you need to be extra thorough. In your traditional classroom setting you may have sometimes made your lesson plan up as you went along, but for an online program you will need to have all of your lessons and assignments organized and lay out before your online class even begins. Students want to feel that they are getting as high a quality education as they would in an in-person classroom setting, so being extra organized is a great way to reassure them of this.

Enforce Strict Deadlines

Working late
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ruud Hein

As usually your only communication with your students is via online, there will likely be some students that will try and take advantage of this non-traditional form of teaching. They may hand in assignments late or ask for extensions more freely than if they were attending an in-person class. You will need to crack down on this early on, and let your students know that they must treat this class like any other. You may want to set up rules and penalties from the get go with regards to late work, such as deductions from students’ final grades. When it comes to online education, sometimes you need to be tough to be kind.

Provide a Challenging Syllabus

Many students first entering online education believe the workload and the work itself will be far easier than found at a regular in-person school. However, as an online teacher you will want to teach your course to the same standards as when you teach in a formal classroom setting. Some online teachers even make their tests slightly more difficult when they are given online, as they are aware that students can use their textbooks and search the internet for answers during the test. You don’t want to make your online course impossibly hard, but it should challenge and advance your students’ knowledge.

Offer a Clear and Concise Syllabus

Students often have many questions about their course syllabus and what is required of them. To avoid answering masses of these questions, make your syllabus clear and concise. Clearly outline all that is expected from your students and what they need to do to obtain a good grade. Having a clear syllabus is more important than ever when it comes to online education, as answering direct questions usually takes a lot longer than in a traditional classroom setting.

Grade Quickly and Efficiently

Very little irks online students more than waiting a long time for graded assignments and homework. Try and grade your students work and provide constructive feedback as soon as possible. It will help you assist your students in improving their work more efficiently and students will appreciate your clear commitment to the course. This goes the same for final grades, students are almost always anxious to receive these, so try and submit them promptly after the class has ended.

As you can see, there are a variety of things to consider when you teach online, some of which are entirely different than those you would face teaching in a traditional classroom scenario. It is only with careful planning and dedicated commitment to your craft that you can become a successful online educator.

Feb 112012

Teachers, as well as teachers in training, are probably aware that their profession is unlike any other. After all, in what other job are professionals responsible for not only the safety of other people’s children, but also their education, and by extension, their futures?

There are many unique issues that educators can face, including long hours, low pay, and growing public hostility towards government employees (including teachers). Everyone who is a teacher, or considering becoming one, needs to consider these very important practical issues.

However, there are some issues which can be very important, which many teachers don’t consider: legal issues.

These issues can come out of nowhere, and can also get pretty complicated, especially if you teach at a public school. These issues include the application of “search and seizure” laws and privacy rights to students at public schools, students’ rights to free expression, and bullying.

This article will provide a general overview of these legal issues, and others. It’s not a comprehensive guide to the law, of course, but it should still provide some good information about these issues, and how to resolve them without significant conflict.

Search and Seizure

The 4th Amendment provides everyone in the U.S. with a right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by government agents. This right applies to students in public schools, as well. However, what constitutes an “unreasonable” search and seizure varies, depending on the circumstances. Students in public schools have a reduced expectation of privacy than they do in most other settings.

In general, students have a reasonable expectation of privacy for items in their lockers, their own bags, and on their persons. A school official can only search a student if they have an objectively reasonable belief that the search is more likely than not to turn up evidence that the student is engaged in illegal activity.

Student Speech

The 1st Amendment provides all Americans with the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Like the 4th Amendment, the 1st Amendment applies to students in public schools, as well. However, just like other constitutional rights, it applies differently in public schools. In general, students at public schools are free to express their political, social, and religious opinions. However, these rights are far more limited in public schools than they are in other areas. Educators must balance their legitimate interest in providing an education free of disruption against the rights of students to freely express themselves.

Generally, speech can only be restricted if the administrators can show that allowing it would cause a serious disruption of the school’s educational mission.


Lincoln students Docs-4-a-Day 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: D.B. Blas

Over the last few years, the issue of bullying in schools has come to the forefront of public discussion. There have been a few tragic incidents where students have suffered severe injuries at the hands of bullies.

Even more tragic, some students have resorted to suicide, with persistent bullying being one of the main causes. This has led to significant legal issues for schools, and sometimes individual teachers. For example, parents of students who have committed suicide because of bullying at school have filed major lawsuits against schools and school administrators.

In order to avoid this, it’s absolutely essential that teachers take all reports of bullying seriously. This means taking time to speak with the student who’s reporting the bullying, and reporting it to an administrator. Teachers should also, following their best judgment, contact the parents of the alleged victim as well as the alleged bully.


This article is just a basic overview of some of the legal issues that teachers can face, and it is not meant to be a step-by-step guide to dealing with every possible legal issue that can come up in the educational setting. However, knowing a little about the law that most affects your field should prove useful in spotting and dealing with these issues before they become major problems.

John Richards is a writer for and the Law Blog. The above article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed in any way as legal advice relevant to your particular situation. The only person qualified to give you legal advice is an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction, who has been apprised of all the relevant facts of your situation.